By John Hughes
Why can’t I just be normal?
That question resonated with me. Deeply.
It came from one of the men attending the first highly sensitive men’s conference this past March in Scotts Valley, California. I wrote it down. And I’ve thought about it since then. A lot.
It truly describes how I feel about lugging around this thing called high sensitivity.
Those of us drowning in HSP-ness experience life so very differently from everyone else. It shows in how we come across to others, and it shows in our career and relationship struggles.
I’ve had a hard time finding my way and place in this world. Some may say that I’ve succeeded, but inside the struggles linger. It just doesn’t feel like success.
I no longer want this burden. I no longer want the weight of soaking in everything I hear and see and feel. And then having to process all of that input without any say in the matter.
But it gets worse. That dreaded sense of responsibility soon arrives telling me that I have to do something about all of those thoughts spinning around inside my head. It’s a mental and emotional burden that wears me out and, quite frankly, makes me mad at times.
The trait is tiring.
I just want to be normal.
(Yes, Dr. Aron reminds us that the trait is normal, that we’re normal, and I’m certainly not in a position to disagree with her, but I don’t feel normal.)
A Zombie Apocalypse
What would happen if I woke up one day and discovered that I’d been “healed?” That I was now, finally, “normal?”
And not just me, but you too would be free of your own burden of always over-thinking and over-feeling and soaking in every subtle (and not-so-subtle) stimuli to the point of being so over-whelmed that you just want to run screaming out the door and down the street and off a cliff.
What would happen if we were in fact healed en masse, as if a zombie apocalypse swept the earth and sucked the high sensitivity right out of us?
Ahhh… Now wouldn’t that be nice?
I already feel the stress and burden falling away…
We could then just sit back, relax, and let the winds of life blow hard against us, against the world, and, like the in cognizant around us, those without the trait, not care one whit about it. We could leave it to others to feel deeply the responsibility to ponder and wonder and worry and care and serve and innovate and create. We’ll be in our beds eating ice cream and watching reality TV.
Who’s with me?!
Of course it wouldn’t be nice.
Well, maybe it would be nice, but it wouldn’t be fair. Not fair to the world and those who inhabit it, both now and tomorrow. And it especially wouldn’t be fair to those closest to us.
We certainly wouldn’t be laughed at anymore, or given odd looks as if we’re a couple characters short of a full tweet, or asked thirty times a day if everything’s okay. But our contributions would be missed.
So, surrender the idea of being “healed.” Let go the thought of ever feeling normal.
I honestly don’t think we’d like the result anyway. The world certainly wouldn’t. It would miss us. It would miss our uniqueness. Our contributions to all that is good.
Yeah, I get it. We’re taken for granted. It sure would be nice if the multitude of those around us who do not have this trait would look past our peculiar natures and truly see our value and talents and care and heart. Unfortunately, though, our oddities shine, not our hearts, as if the oddities defined us, as if we are the beast to the rest of the world’s beauty.
This sucks, I know. But that’s just another burden that we carry.
A Higher Calling
I really believe that we have a higher calling. And with any higher calling comes a related call to set our own selves aside and use the gift that’s been wonderfully woven into us, even if on the outside we look like a Picasso in the flesh—an oddly angled and contorted being that incontrovertibly justifies the need for a permanent six-foot social distancing rule.
Yes, we are different.
But let’s accept this as a higher calling. Welcome it. Embrace it. Pursue it as if it’s part of who we are. As if we wouldn’t be able to breathe if we denied the fact and purpose of our high sensitivity.
The world needs us. Even if it can’t utter those words.
The world needs you.
It needs your unique way of thinking. Your heartfelt emotionality. Your creativity. Your ability to connect deeply with others. Your ability to care beyond what even seems humanly possible.
And it needs you to continually show up, to actually risk becoming overwhelmed—which strangely produces the raw material of our creativity—the creativity that moves the world to new, unique, and more worthy heights.
No, you’re not normal. So stop trying to be.
And let the gift of you flood the world.