It’s taken me a lot of years to be able to admit, even to myself, that I’m a sensitive person. Because I’ve always associated sensitivity with weakness.
I feel things deeply, I take things personally, I care a whole awful lot about a whole awful lot. Sometimes the best way I can describe this is “exhausting”. It’s exhausting to feel so much, to think about so much.
I pour myself into the people and hobbies I’m passionate about. And as a result, when something isn’t well-received, my feelings are hurt.
Don’t bother lecturing me with the “you can’t take everything so personally” speech. I’m self-aware and logical-minded enough to know that already and know that my emotional reactions don’t always make sense. I also feel like I do a good job at not expecting other people to understand or get on board with my emotional craziness. It’s okay, just let me feel my feelings for a little while.
I’m learning that being sensitive is not a sign of weakness and I’m hopeful I can instill this knowledge in my future kids so it doesn’t take them 28-ish years to learn. Being sensitive does not mean you are weak. Likewise, being stoic does not mean you are strong. In fact, I would argue that the more you hide your feelings and fail to express them, the more weak you are because you are probably afraid of being real, of being vulnerable.
The first time I remember my ‘stoic facade’ failing me was about seven years ago. My parents were recently divorced and my brother and I had road tripped to visit my family on my Mom’s side. We were all visiting and looking at old pictures and I’m not sure how the topic of conversation got where it did, but it ended up shedding a less than favorable light on my Dad. And it continued on this path for some time while I sat there, behind my stoic mask, feeling every word like a knife in my gut. Because I dearly love both of my parents and despite whatever anyone else was saying, this man was still my dearly loved Father. And when my stoic mask broke, a family member apologized saying something along the lines of, “we’re sorry honey, we didn’t know it bothered you, you never show that it bothers you.”
And that was on me. I was too afraid, for whatever reason, to share my feelings with my family, with the people I know will love me no matter what.
It’s probably obvious that this wasn’t a turning point in my life, that I didn’t take this life lesson and run with it. It’s taken some time, quite a bit of time, and self-reflection. And more life lessons.
But it’s my dream that any children of mine learn from their parents that vulnerability is one of the greatest gifts they can give to the world. It’s my dream that any children of mine learn from their parents that sharing their hearts, expressing their feelings, allowing themselves to have those feelings is a beautiful and powerful mark of courage, of strength.
Never apologize for being sensitive or emotional. Let this be a sign that you’ve got a big heart and aren’t afraid to let others see it. Showing your emotions is a sign of strength.”