From the minute I stepped onto the boardwalk loop at Congaree National Park I was spellbound. It’s a short hike that could be simply described as a stroll through a forested floodplain. To me, though, it felt like entering the gates to heaven.
Trees as tall as the sky, their reflections mirrored in still waters the color of fine English tea. Cypress knees scattered throughout, some hollowed, waiting for fairies and gnomes to make themselves at home. Footprints of tiny woodland creatures faintly guide the way. It is the magic that makes you feel so big and yet so small.
Even though you might not understand it, I’m not afraid to tell you the memory of that experience, to this day, has been known to make me cry. You see, I’m what they call too sensitive. Everything, the good and the bad, seems to hit me a little too hard and, for some, that seems to make me a little too much.
I’ve been called a lot of things in my day. Emotional, dramatic, snowflake, crybaby, weak. My father told me the problem with me is that I cry too much. My high school psych teacher once called me hypersensitive in front of the entire class. Adding, as if I didn’t already know, that’s not a good thing.
I’ve been told I can make a person feel as though they’re walking on eggshells. I need a thicker skin, a tougher exterior, a harder shell. This world is going to eat me up. Obviously, that’s yet to happen.
I’ve always had a feeling of being less than because a lot of people have let me know they think I’m more than enough. I feel, at times, like an emotional burden to those around me. I mean, how exactly does one deal with a person overcome by the beauty of a glorified swamp? Or a song they’ve heard a thousand times before.
A certain smell may not necessarily evoke a memory for me, but can sometimes bring forth overwhelming emotions. A sad news story can linger in my head for weeks. When I close my eyes and remember back, I can experience the exact feeling I had in my childhood when I finished reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory the first time. It can best be described as joy and contentment muddled with a few sprigs of calm sorrow.
If you’re anxious, I absorb it. If you’re sad, my heart aches. When you’re happy, I’m bounding with delight. If you’re angry, I feel that heat. When I’m feeling all these things it might be hard to tell because I’ve grown used to masking it and squashing it down so I don’t get called any names. But inside me is a churning cauldron of viscous emotional goo. I never know where one feeling ends and the other starts.
It’s awful sometimes, overwhelming really. And, as I’ve learned through the course of my 40-something years, it’s also quite delightful. Because what I’ve come to know is that being too sensitive is anything but weak. It’s sort of become my superpower. That churning cauldron of goo is the birthplace of my fire.
Everything that I am, from mother to wife to woman to writer, is born from being sensitive. It is the place from where my creativity is born. It fuels my passions. It feeds my soul and my mind. At times, I felt it might be the thing that would kill me, but now I know it’s the only way I’ve survived. My sensitivity keeps me humble, teaches me empathy, and allows simple things to seem sublime.
I know sometimes I’m a mystery and a handful. It used to be something that bothered me, something for which I always had to apologize. It’s fine that, to you, I’m too much. I get it. For me, I sometimes am too. But I refuse to see it as a problem anymore. I will no longer say I’m sorry.
If you’re someone who is too much, I just wanted to remind you it’s okay to be you. And tell you you’re not alone. There’s a lot of us who are more than enough. We feel it all too much too. It’s difficult. I know. But I’m here to tell you that, like you, it’s more so magical and divine.
*Featured image courtesy of Pixabay