It’s Hard to be Real

As much as I want to be authentic, I fall short.

It’s not usually intentional, trying to be someone I’m not. It’s subconscious.

Sometimes, I glimpse those fake personas in my heart. Like floaters that come and go, they drift into my line of sight when I’m not looking for them. The more I try to focus on them, the more they elude me.

“Many poets are not poets for the same reason that many religious men are not saints: they never succeed in being themselves. They never get around to being the particular poet or the particular monk they are intended to be by God. They never become the man or the artist who is called for by all the circumstances of their individual lives. They waste their years in vain efforts to be some other poet, some other saint…They wear out their minds and bodies in a hopeless endeavor to have somebody else’s experiences or write somebody else’s poems.”

from New Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton

 

1950's velveteen rabbit

I spent years trying not to be an introvert. Years pushing myself to be extroverted and to run as fast as the next person. But I couldn’t keep up. And I undervalued my true nature.

I spent years denying my high sensitivity. Years pretending I could do ANYTHING by  relying on my own strength. By pushing. Turns out it wasn’t enough. When I gave up, I discovered I only needed strength to do what God had called ME to do. Not what everyone else was called to do. It was freeing. And humbling.

Worse yet, I’ve refused to admit to myself my darker feelings — envy, insecurity, bitterness — even as I plastered on a sweet-as-pie smile. Whew. (Of course, that’s not an exhaustive list of my faults.)

Why is it so hard to be real? Any thoughts?

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Life as an HSP

What is Wrong with Me?

I stand before the metal door and grit my teeth. A woman’s scream comes from the other side. Then an explosion. I take a deep breath and release it slowly. I can do this, I tell myself. I’ve come armed.
I reach into my jacket pocket and pull out my gummy, orange earplugs, stick them in my ears, and open the door. . .

If you’ve ever taken earplugs to a movie theatre, you also might be an HSP–a Highly Sensitive Person.

If perfume gives you a headache, if those bright fluorescent lights in the grocery store make you squint, if flashing images and crowds drain you, you might be an HSP.pexels-photo-196652.jpeg

Why Am I Different?

Since I was a child, I’ve known I was more sensitive to external stimuli than most people. My mother says that even when I was a baby, she couldn’t take me out to restaurants or stores because I would cry inconsolably.
Now, I manage to buy my groceries without weeping, though I avoid busy shopping times. And I love to eat out, though I prefer quiet restaurants.
I still can’t keep up with my amazing friends who work full-time, run marathons, chair committees, volunteer, all while rearing five children. This used to bother me. Actually, it depressed me. I felt like I was “less than,” or “not enough.” Deficient. Why was I so tired and overwhelmed when I did half the activities of my energetic friends?

A Revelation

Then, when I was thirty-something, I read Elaine Aron’s book The Highly Sensitive Person, and the light dawned: I had Sensory Processing Sensitivity.
Now I know that as I go through my day, I am more affected by the noise and lights and crowds than the majority of people. I am well aware of a change in the weather, which, unfortunately, gives me a migraine.
On the flip side, I pick up on micro expressions and slight gestures. I can often read friends’ and strangers’ moods. I’m the first to smell smoke when green beans are burning on the stove.
I notice the beauty of small things.IMG_1132 (1)
Any other HSP’s out there? How has it affected your life? What little (or big) changes have you made to cope?