Life is hard for everyone, period. But if you’re a highly sensitive introvert, sometimes it feels like you suffer from your own unique version of crazy. Changes in your routine throw you off. You feel like you’re whining when you try to explain to your loved ones that the loud TV really, really bothers you. Conflict and tension in a relationship isn’t something you shrug off like everyone else—instead, a feeling of nervousness burrows into your gut and makes you feel skittish long after the fight is over.
Lately, my life has been scattered, to say the least. About two weeks ago I returned to the U.S. from my summer-long trip to Mexico. I had an apartment lined up to move into right away, but at the last minute, it fell through. That left me “homeless” and having to crash with family. I’ve been hopping from couch to guest room as I hunt for another apartment. The stability-loving, security-needing sensitive introvert in me is not comfortable (and isn’t getting enough alone time). I have that anxious, drained feeling of overstimulation that I’m sure other sensitive introverts can relate to.
I’m sure things will work out in a week or two. I have some good leads. Pretty soon I’ll be comfortably settled in an apartment and back in my routine. I won’t have to hunt for a coffee shop every morning to get WiFi and the uninterrupted space I need to work on Introvert, Dear and my book, The Secret Lives of Introverts.
Earlier this week, as I was writing an article for Introvert, Dear about inspirational quotes for highly sensitive people (HSPs), I came across a quote from Elaine N. Aron that really spoke to me. Her words seemed like a downer at first, but the more I sat with them, the more they started to work magic on my tension:
“A teacher of meditation once told the story of a man who wanted nothing to do with the stress of life, so he retreated to a cave to meditate day and night for the rest of his life. But soon he came out again, driven to overwhelming distress by the sound of the dripping of water in his cave. The moral is that, at least to some extent, the stresses will always be there, for we bring our sensitivity with us. What we need is a new way of living with the stressors.”
The stresses will always be there. Sounds depressing, right? It seemed that way at first. Then I started to think about my tendency to unconsciously say to myself, “Things will be better when ____.” When I finish this project. When the weekend comes. When I move into an apartment.
But I realized that this isn’t a healthy mindset. It means I’m putting off my happiness. I’m hoping peace will come in some distant future. As Aron writes, I need a way of living with the stressors.
So, as I visit coffee shop after coffee shop and bed after bed—and I’m uncertain about where I’ll be resting my head in a few days—I’m trying to live with the chaos. To embrace it. To find ways to manage that feeling of overwhelm. It’s not easy, but I’m trying.
Deep breaths. Walking in nature. Good music. A “Calming Moments” coloring book. Aerobic exercise. All these things will get me through.
If you’re a sensitive introvert and you’re in a tough situation right now, I get it. Know that I’m sending love and support your way. Find the things that will get you through, and join me in learning to live with the stressors.
P.S. You can find that HSP quotes article later this week.
Jenn Granneman, creator of Introvert, Dear
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