Sensitivity Is Not Weak
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Sensitivity And Empathy Do Not Make You Weak

I now understand why I always cry in art museums.

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Sensitivity And Empathy Do Not Make You Weak
Jana Gabrielle

During my senior year, my painting class took a trip to the Reynolda House, an art museum and historic property in Winston Salem, North Carolina. My professor already told us that the Frederic Edwin Church exhibit was the reason we were even going, but walking into that dimly lit, red-walled room only to directly face Church's pieces still caught me off-guard. I walked around with my friends to scout for our most and least favorite pieces, but it just wasn't possible. All of them brought me to tears from how powerful and intense they were.

Jana Gabrielle

I'm often teased about how easy it is to make me cry, and it's not even just beautiful art that triggers me. Mildly sad plots in stories, documentaries in history class, violence in the news, loud noises, the weight of everyday responsibilities, and even that scene in the 2017 remake of "It" where Pennywise suddenly became gigantic are all enough to stress me out and get the tears flowing. When people witness this, I'm often told to "toughen up a little," something I've worked on but to no avail.

Throughout sophomore year, it was common for my friends to baby me. I don't know if it was because I was among the youngest in our class or because I'm so sensitive about everything, but there was a point when I was done with it. We were sitting at the fountain in the middle of our campus and my friends were joking around. They told stories while using profanities, which never bothered me at all, but they thought that Little Jana just wasn't ready for it. After one or two more vulgar jokes and my continued silence, one of them said something like, "Guys, we have a child in our presence, watch your language." This person then rushed to my side, covered my ears jokingly, and then gave everyone permission to continue.

I actually blew up then and told them to quit treating me like a babysitting mission. It was confusing why they found entertainment in labeling my sensitivity as something adorable or childish, but I needed them to stop. By the time I was done ranting, I had already began crying (as expected), and I received looks from everyone that made me feel like I was insane.

Truthfully, all of this does make me sound totally mad. Who even cries this much and by such little stimulation? I finally found my answer about a week ago when I was scrolling through podcasts on my phone. I found a series called "The Highly Sensitive Person Podcast" which talks about the life of a highly sensitive person (HSP). HSP's are people who feel and sense everything more than normal. Although this mainly revolves around environmental and sensory stimulation like bright lights or loud sounds, being an HSP could also lead to being super empathetic of others' emotions and moods, so it becomes difficult distinguishing your emotions from emotions that you seem to just absorb.

Jana Gabrielle

No, this is not a disorder and is not the same as emotional fragility (a totally different topic to be discussed another time), but it is something that many are born with. Learning that I was probably made a little more sensitive to what's happening around me actually eased my distress about it. I guess I just needed an explanation and some sort of confirmation that I'm not weak for being sensitive – it's who I am. Of course, this was what I needed, but you do not need to be an HSP to believe that sensitivity is not a sign of weakness.

I'll say it again: Sensitivity does not equate to weakness. If anything, it's a strength. Being sensitive comes with the patience and empathy one needs to understand internal and external problems, and understanding these problems makes it easier to create productive solutions for yourself, those around you, and eventually for the world. Maybe sensitivity is just what humanity needs right now to understand and solve issues like poverty, worldwide social injustices, violence, mental health, and the list goes on.

At the end of the day, your sensitivity to different things could just be a measure of how much you care and wish to understand. It may be overwhelming sometimes, but in the end, it should be embraced. This could all be a measurement of how much you care, so draw strength from it, and use it to change your community and our world for the better.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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