Not too long ago, I stumbled onto a video that changed my life. Julia (of Julia Kristina Counselling on YouTube) described the symptoms of being a “highly sensitive person” — for short, just HSP.
I already knew that my sensitivity meter was dialed up high (in all possible ways) so this video caught my attention. I’ve even heard about this “highly sensitive person” concept years ago and felt it was probably “my label”. Then I didn’t give it any more thought.
But as I started to watch the video, I couldn’t believe how accurate Julia is. The way that she describes the effects of being an HSP – it’s almost like she’s living in that skin. I wondered how this counselling graduate had such deep insights about the subject. This was no clinical talk, it seemed personal because she’s really fired up about this information! My curiosity was satisfied when Julia shared that she’s also an HSP herself. That explained why she knew so much about the subject. Considering the fact that she’s also a Registered Clinical Therapist and Researcher, this duality of insights – both personal and professional – makes her the perfect spokesperson for the HSP genetic trait.
That’s right. From what I’ve learned in studying this subject… it’s not a medical condition or psychological disorder. Nope. It’s a genetic trait. Much like people who are born with blue eyes or brown hair. Those are personal traits — and that’s exactly what being an HSP is. It’s a trio of genetic markers that are dealt out before birth, the same way that our eye color or balding patterns are determined. It’s just a crap shoot in the genetics department.
However, unlike blue eyes, this cluster of “sensitivity genes” can cause havoc on your life. It can make for a very uncomfortable existence in your body and mind. Those tiny little genetic differences can change the entire experience of life — from how you think, to how you feel (emotionally as well as physically). Everything is kind of an intense experience — whether it’s temperature, sounds, lights, tastes, smells, hyper reactions to bites and stings, getting a song stuck in your head and it won’t leave, feeling slighted when something happens that others say “it doesn’t matter”. But it does matter… to the HSP! In fact, everything is a big freaking deal because if we make the wrong choice, we can experience nasty side effects, or pure pleasure, depending on the choices we make. Everything feels magnified if you’re an HSP.
The world at large is built for neurotypicals (people without these sensitivity genes). They make up 80 to 85% of the population. Whereas, the HSPs make up 15-20% of the population. That’s a fairly high percentage. 15-20% of the population is not a tiny group. And yet, their needs and preferences are generally disregarded by those who design and organize life’s amenities and social constructs.
I’m not here to gripe about that. My goal is just to share the video. Watching this changed my life. The video was fascinating because it explained my quiet struggles over the past forty years. It helped me to make sense of all my weird quirks and eccentricities. Apparently, I’m not so weird after all – just wired differently!
Since there is such a high population of HSPs out there, I hope that someone might catch this article and “discover themselves” as a result. It changed my life for the better to discover that I am part of such a large group of similar people. I mean, 15-20% of the population is a large group considering I thought I was completely alone in this struggle! Even though I had great connections with people throughout life, I was still alone in the issues that I grappled with. I was forever looking for the secret answer to why I was so “different” from my peers.
Now I feel like I’ve found “my people” as if I’ve been wandering through a desert of confusion and they are like an oasis where I can get some relief. I just hope that someone else can find that same joy!