16 Small Difficult Things About Being a Highly Sensitive Introvert

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It’s not easy being a highly sensitive introvert. Little things that don’t bother other people can be too much for you, like bright lights, big crowds, and changes to your routine. That’s because highly sensitive people (HSPs) have a more reactive nervous system than people who are not HSPs, which makes them more easily overwhelmed by things in their environment. But being highly sensitive is perfectly normal; according to researcher Elaine Aron, author of The Highly Sensitive Person, 15-20 percent of the population are HSPs. And many introverts are highly sensitive — about 70 percent of HSPs are introverted.

Are you a highly sensitive introvert? If so, you can probably relate to these 16 small difficult things. I can’t speak for every HSP, but I believe these are generally true.

Difficult Things About Being a Highly Sensitive Introvert

1. When the volume of something is too loud, but you don’t want to ask the other person to turn it down, because they don’t seem bothered by it at all.

2. When you don’t get a good night’s sleep so everything is awful the next day.

3. When other people don’t understand why going to the club, bar, party, or concert will be too much for you. So much noise and so many people.

4. When you have to skip watching a movie or TV show that everyone says is really good because you know it will be too violent and gory for you.

5. When you have a strong emotional reaction to a TV show, movie, book, song, or piece of art, and no one else around you seems to be as into it as you are.

6. When you notice that someone’s tone of voice doesn’t match their words, and you find yourself analyzing their comment well afterward, trying to figure out what they really meant. If the comment was about you, it’s 100x worse.

7. When someone tells a disturbing or violent joke and you can’t laugh. Other people say, “It’s just a joke,” but you have a hard time brushing it off.

8. When someone says or does something that hurts your feelings, but you don’t bring it up because you don’t want to upset them. So you try to forget about it but the tiny resentment you now feel toward them never completely goes away.

9. When you go on vacation and it’s supposed to be fun/relaxing, but little things, like sleeping in a different bed and being in a new environment, make you wish you were back home relaxing.

10. When your routine changes and you feel discombobulated; then you feel embarrassed for feeling discombobulated, because you think other people would probably just deal with it.

11. When you forget to eat and suddenly you feel really, really cranky and out of it.

12. When you have to do something quickly and you get flustered because there isn’t enough time to process what you’re doing.

13. When you have to do something while someone is watching you. Even though you normally can do it, the added pressure is too much and makes you mess up.

14. When you just want to spend the night alone doing nothing, but you say yes to socializing because you don’t want to let anyone down.

15. When a good change happens in your life, like dating someone wonderful or getting a promotion at work, and on top of the happy feelings, you feel a little overwhelmed just because things are different.

16. When you notice something beautiful in the world and you want to tell everyone about it, but you don’t because you know they won’t see it the same way you do.

What would you add to this list?

Check out Highly Sensitive Refuge, our website just for highly sensitive people. 

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Jenn Granneman is the founder of IntrovertDear.com and the author of The Secret Lives of Introverts: Inside Our Hidden World. She also cohosts The Introvert, Dear Podcast and blogs for Psychology Today. For most of her life, Jenn felt weird, different, and out of place because of her quiet ways. She writes about introversion because she doesn’t want other introverts to feel the way she did.