When I tell people that I’m an introvert, I always get the same response, “You? No.”
First off, introvert is not synonymous with shy. Because we have difficulty in some kinds of social situations, we often appear shy. Most introverts are gregarious and friendly. They enjoy going out and having fun with other people. However, introversion does tend to make one a bit more sensitive to external stimulus.
Years ago I read a book called “The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You” by Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D. The headline attracted me but it was this question on the back that made me purchase and read it.
Do you have a keen imagination and vivid dreams? Is time alone each day as essential to you as food and water? Are you “too shy” or “too sensitive” according to others? Do noise and confusion quickly overwhelm you? If your answers are yes, you may be a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP).
I can answer yes to all of that and more. It was such a relief to learn that I was not alone. And that I wasn’t a freak.
I’ve always been a bit different from my family. I learned to read at an early age and had more intellectual curiosity than most. I was the only one cursed with motion sickness. No one ever really got how miserable it could get for me until I actually threw up all over the back seat of the car.
Certain sights and sounds throw me off to the extent that I have trouble functioning until they end. I HATE perfume so much that sometimes I want to flee its very presence (or punch the person in the throat who’s wearing it). I have to prepare myself for events that will involve crowds and noise. And I’m one of the lucky ones. I’ve met people who’ve had it a lot worse than me.
I don’t remember it being this loud, bright and anxious when I was kid. Everything seems to be ramping up and I don’t know when it will stop.
You can’t go anywhere that plays music because it always seems to be at eardrum bleeding levels (even at weddings). Can’t the music be loud without having to be painful? Is everyone else deaf? I’ve had high levels of bass actually affect my breathing in dance clubs.
And don’t get me started on flashing lights and strobe effects. I saw a movie this weekend and the end credits were done in a most annoying flashing style. I had to close my eyes until they were over.
I’m trying to be greener and more responsible with my carbon footprint but a simple ride on public transportation can be an absolute assault on my senses.
How about this — Next time you go out in public, try and actually be present to the fact that there are other people around you, and you are having an impact on them whether you want to or not. You don’t need to make other people deaf with the volume of your car stereo. You don’t need to be smelled in a ten foot radius. And for gods’ sake, don’t let your child just screech away in small spaces. That’s like daggers in my brain!
And I’ve been guilty of being an asshole too, in case you think I’ve spent too much time on my soapbox. I used to be a smoker and now that I’ve quit, I get what a jerk I was with that nasty habit. I sincerely apologize to all of my non-smoking friends who ever had to endure me. I can say from experience, payback is a bitch.