On Being Sensitive

In my fantasy life, I am less sensitive. Things roll off me.

* * *

TO BE SENSITIVE can be such a burden, especially early in life when all one wants to do is fit in. Some never get over the isolation that sets in at that time.

“You’re sensitive.”
“You’re so sensitive.”
“Don’t be so sensitive.”
Translation: There’s something wrong with you.

Screen Shot 2015-12-31 at 6.43.44 AM

I’ve spent years trying to pass as a less-sensitive person. I don’t recommend it. It’s exhausting. Everything gets turned inward – the sight of a shivering child, the joke made at someone else’s expense, deafening silences between people. Could you two PLEASE have the conversation you need to have so I could be in less pain?

It’s stressful, walking through the world, picking up all this input. Turns out it can also be wonderful. It took me a long time to discover this.

TO BE SENSITIVE is to go through the world with highly tuned antennae. It’s like having a Bose Sound System as opposed to a transistor radio. Now a Bose is a fine piece of equipment. I would not be ashamed to own it. I would not treat it with the same casual disregard as a transistor radio, tossing it on a table or taking it to the beach. And I certainly wouldn’t throw a blanket over it so nobody knew I had it. No. I would find a place for it. I would put it where it could best be used and heard. I would care for it.

The problem with being sensitive isn’t so much that we are inundated with input, but that we can’t figure out what to do with it. We are at a loss for a response, so we carry it all around. We don’t know how to turn around the notes we receive and translate them back out into our world with clarity and purpose.

There’s a reason you notice things others don’t, a reason you pick up the signals you do and it isn’t to break your heart. All that input you feel inundated by, it’s telling you something. Pay attention. It’s a key to where you need to apply your gifts.

What gets your attention?
What catches your eye?
What is the common thread?
If you pay attention long enough, you might see something important.

Over six years ago, I wrote a post about having read four very different books about four very different situations, only later realizing they had something in common. They all had to do with marginalized people. I was not aware I had an interest. Now I work with refugees and really enjoy it. Makes perfect sense.

SENSITIVITY can be a tremendous asset if you see it as a gift to be stewarded, if you stop trying not to be and start paying attention to where it may be leading you, which is rarely to a Facebook rant and almost always to some type of hands-on work. (Ok, ok, that was a personal opinion.)

SENSITIVITY is a gift, which, like all gifts, needs to be stewarded. Also, like all other gifts, there’s a certain amount of burden to carry….but, don’t forget, you have friends to help you carry it.

* * *

Big thanks to Jolene Underwood for posting the graphic that prompted this post.


About Marilyn

Reading, thinking, listening, writing and talking about faith, creativity, ESL for refugees, grief and finding the story in a story. Student of Spanish. Foe of procrastination. Cheez-it fan. People person with hermit tendencies or vice-versa. Thank you so much for reading.
This entry was posted in discoveries, finding your voice, most excellent gifts. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to On Being Sensitive

  1. elizabethfstewart says:

    This is me, too! I’ve known it forever, but you helped it make sense.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Margaret says:

    My mother uses to use the word “touchy” and often called me “touch-ess” (I guess like a form of tempermental princess) as I was growing up. I had not thought about that in many years. As I read this today that word popped into my head. I enjoy your posts. The “take away” for me is always something to think and pray about. Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jacki Tanner says:

    Marilyn, thanks for the gift of your words. So grateful to to have the steady stream of them again because I always get something good out of them. Sensitivity is a gift that we share. I love how you equate it to a Bose sound system…an analogy that has great meaning to me:)


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