Alissa sitting on a ledge looking our onto a body of water.

Sensitivity is a Strength (My Story)

highly sensitive inspiration wellness Jan 25, 2019

Being a sensitive human is a large part of my identity. It’s a big one for me. And if you’re a person who feels e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g on a deep, visceral level, you feel me. Naturally. It’s not easy to be so deeply affected by the world around you, but it’s one of the most beautiful gifts a person can have.

Sensitivity has been the cause of the most joy and the most pain in my life.

When I was a kid, I would get so excited for our annual spring break family vacation. I grew up in Minnesota, so by the time March rolled around, I couldn’t wait to get out of the cold. The night before a trip, I would lay in bed in anticipation for the early wake up call to go to the airport. I imagined myself sitting in the airport shuttle going to get our rental car in the warm, sunny weather. I looked forward to getting bronzed (see: burnt) in the sun and getting my hair braided to show off to all of my friends that I went on vacation. You get the idea, I was pumped. However, I would get so excited that I gave myself the worst stomach aches. It was a known thing! My mom would have to tell me before bed, “don’t get too excited that you make yourself sick!”.

That was the cute, endearing side of it. But I was, and if I’m not careful, am, someone who can be completely yanked around by her emotions. In my teenage years to early twenties, I was internally an anxious mess much of the time. I honestly didn’t realize there was any other way to feel. If a friend was a little short with me in a text message, I would wonder if she was mad at me and overthink it until I was convinced I’d done something wrong. Unless I was with my close friends, I never felt fully comfortable in social situations and was sure that people were thinking I was uncool or awkward. And let me get this straight, unless you were a really close person in my life, you likely had no idea I felt this way. I was always pretty good at appearing calm and collected. But I totally struggled inside. I had difficulty allowing myself to have a healthy relationship because I was so annoyed by my own sensitivity. It absolutely determined my self-worth.

 I’m difficult to deal with. This is what I deserve.

 What this manifested into, in my early twenties, was major stomach problems. I’ll save the details for another post, but, long story short, I spent years going to different GI doctors without any luck. Until I found a holistic doctor through a desperate Yelp search who completely changed my life. What I learned from my doctor was that I was making myself sick not only through a poor diet, but through a poor mindset. I hadn’t figured out how to love and accept myself. Negative emotions, stress, and anxiety ruled my body.

 This is when my life started to shift in the most beautiful way it possibly could have. It catapulted me into a quest of self discovery and healing.  One of the biggest learnings about myself came from a book called The Highly Sensitive Person by Dr. Elaine Aron.  It felt like it was written for me. I learned that people who are highly sensitive have the amazing gift of being extra intuitive to the feelings of others. I’d always known I was a really empathetic person – I’ll cry at the drop of a hat at a sad commercial; I can’t even look at the face of the girl who doesn’t receive a rose on The Bachelor. I’m often the one my friends go to when they need advice and I’ve experienced quite a few strangers divulging their deepest secrets to me. I can’t help but feel and care for humans on a deep level.  When you’re a sensitive human, you have a harder time filtering out the world around you, so you feel everything. You notice everything. Everything feels like a really big deal.

Learning this about myself and learning to love this about myself has been the biggest catalyst for my personal growth. I’ve always loved quotes and getting inspired because inside I felt like there was a tornado of feelings happening; I just wanted to read something that gave me security and hope. And I’m thankful, because I realize now that those inspiring words stuck with me and became my internal mantra. They reminded me that there is beauty in every part of life and, through practice, I’m retraining my eye to look for the lesson in every situation.

This story is the underlying driver of every post I’ll write. It fuels my desire to connect with and to help others; it encourages me to use my creativity. That which causes you the most pain is often what brings you the most beauty.

What fuels you?

With love,