Alissa smiling, wearing a shirt that says

As An HSP, I Used To Be Afraid Of Being Seen As Dramatic

highly sensitive Dec 07, 2020

Along with always being told I was “sensitive”, my family used to describe me as passionate, emotional, and sometimes quite dramatic. They said it lovingly, most of the time, and I couldn’t help but agree with them, most of the time.

There’s this home video of my brother when he was like, 6-months old. He was sweet and adorable, rolling around on the floor, while I screamed in the background. “There’s Liss, yelling about somethin’ again…” my dad says with a laugh.

The video later pans to me after I’ve finished having my tantrum. I’m smiling with a chocolate-covered face while I lick brownie batter from a spoon, clearly feeling pleased with myself.

I remember feeling so much all of the time as a kid — both good and bad. I used to get so excited about our family vacations that I’d give myself a stomach ache the night before we went. I felt overwhelming joy and unbearable sadness. I was accustomed to feeling the full spectrum of emotions, sometimes all in one day.

As a teenager, it was especially challenging. Hormones, insecurity, plus high sensitivity. Yikes.

“You’re just so intense sometimes!” my frustrated parents would say to me as I ran up to my bedroom and slammed the door for the fifth time that week.

I’d lock myself in my room with my diary, writing furiously for hours with angry tears streaming down my cheeks. I wrote about how confused I was to be me. I wrote about how I just wanted to feel happy and normal like the other girls in my grade. I wondered why everyone else seemed to have the answers to life except for me.

High-strung, emotional, sensitive, dramatic. I felt like I had issues compared to every other human I knew. I didn’t understand why everyone seemed so cool, calm, and collected while I was this messy tornado of feelings all of the time.

Sensitive People Often Feel Like They’re Dramatic, So They Learn To Suppress It

As many highly sensitive kids do, I learned how to hide my sensitivity quite well around my friends and in school. Most people who knew me would describe me as easygoing, kind, and shy. They didn’t know I had the capacity to be so passionate and dramatic and angry at times. I felt like the high-strung part of me was this bad, undesirable thing that I needed to keep hidden.

Highly sensitive people have rich, complex inner worlds. The way we are, outwardly facing, is often quite different than the way we actually feel inside. Many of us determined early on that our “extreme” emotions were a lot to handle, so we became masters of hiding them in order to be liked and accepted by others.

However, our true nature will always find a way to peek through and make itself known. Any time I was feeling tired or stressed, the “dramatic” side of me threatened to rear its ugly head. I’d uncharacteristically snap at a friend, cause a fuss over a sleeping situation at a sleepover, or make a face at a teacher I didn’t care for. Seriously, I was once taken out into the hallway by my high school Spanish teacher because she saw me roll my eyes at her!

I’d act this way, then feel completely embarrassed and guilty afterward. ‘No one is going to like me if they know I’m actually like this…’

A desire to be accepted by others is the reason why so many HSPs get caught up in the cycle of people-pleasing, codependency, and perfectionism. Being liked by everyone, all of the time is comfortable. It’s a way to avoid the added stress and overstimulation of confrontation. It’s safer than potentially putting ourselves in the line of fire.

Except trying to be perfect; trying to avoid ever making anyone upset with us… is impossible. It’s an uphill battle that always ends in our own exhaustion. Fighting our true nature, eventually, physically hurts. It’s often at the root of digestive issues, skin problems, and chronic illness. When we’re always pushing ourselves to be someone we’re not, it’s unnatural and our body fights that.

Learning To Embrace Our Sensitivity Gives Us Freedom To Be Ourselves

Freedom, health, and alignment come when we stop running from ourselves, stop suppressing ourselves, and start embracing who we are at our core. The day I learned that I was a highly sensitive person and learned that’s why I reacted so strongly to everything, was the day I started accepting myself.

Being real and honest about our sensitivity opens up the lines of communication. It gives us context to share with others in our lives that, “See, I’m not dramatic… I just feel much deeper because of the way I’m wired.” Our nervous systems are incredibly sensitive, so yes, hearing someone snore while we’re trying to sleep does feel like the end of the world at that moment.

When we understand our sensitivity, we become empowered to advocate for ourselves. We get better with our boundaries and bolder in our yes’s and no’s. We understand the way our bodies work, we know what’s best for us, and we aren’t afraid to ask for it.

For me, sleep is everything. I’m extremely sensitive about it and I’m growing comfortable asking for what I need. The night before my wedding, I was planning to stay in a hotel room with a few of my bridesmaids. I was totally fine with this, so long as I didn’t have to share my bed. But, because of my need to sleep alone, the girls had to rent a second hotel room to accommodate everyone. I remember feeling guilty about this for a moment and second-guessing myself.

‘Do I really need my own bed? Maybe I’m just being dramatic. I should be more accomodating.’ I’d thought to myself.

I quickly reminded myself that it was the night before my wedding, one of the most important days of my life. I knew how precious sleep was to me, and I knew how crucial it would be to get a good night’s rest. I’d teetered on the edge of my old people-pleasing ways and caught myself before going there again. I knew the importance of my sensitive needs.

When we stop denying our true nature and start embracing it for what it is, we can simply live better lives. We can get better sleep, experience more joy, feel more creative, and have deeper, more meaningful relationships because we’re keeping it real with ourselves and others.

You’re not dramatic. You’re just a highly sensitive person. There’s a difference.

With love,