A letter from a highly sensitive child
Dear Mom, Dad, Teacher, Neighbor, Friend, Random Passer-by… Dear World,
I want you to know, I am highly sensitive. You may not fully understand what that means, and I don’t blame you because I myself don’t quite get it yet, and I may never fully comprehend why I am the way I am. But I also want you to know that I’m okay. I see the way you look at me; I hear you whisper things about me, things that I insist are not true; I know you worry about me and wonder if there may be something wrong; I know you secretly wish I could be different, perhaps because you think it might be better for me.
But World, here’s the thing. There’s nothing wrong with me. I am highly sensitive, and that is not something that needs to be remedied. And please don’t assume that I am weak as a result, because I can assure you I am not. I realize that I don’t behave like many of the children you’ve seen, and I may not meet the expectations so many books have reinforced.
I know it would make your life easier if I just went with the flow and did things the “right” way, because then you wouldn’t have to try and understand me; because then, you wouldn’t have to go out of your way to accommodate me and my needs. Because then, you wouldn’t have to worry about me.
Well, I feel like I need to tell you, World, I’m highly sensitive. Stop worrying about me.
Some things don’t bother you, but that doesn’t make it wrong for them to bother me. I just see, hear and think about things differently.
Just because I’m sitting alone under a tree while everyone runs around at the playground doesn’t mean I’m not having fun. I quite enjoy the quiet and the time to think and observe. It teaches me a lot about you.
I may not put up my hand to answer your questions in class, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know the answers. Most of the time, I do. I just don’t like being in the spotlight.
I may refuse to go down a long, slippery slide or run across a wobbly rope bridge, but that doesn’t make me a coward. I just like to make sure things are safe before I jump in, which some people might say is pretty clever.
You might think I cry often, and that may be so. But that’s because I care a lot, and things hurt me a lot, and my emotions can be so big that they fill me up like an overflowing bucket. It may be hard to believe, but those big feelings may come in handy one day.
If I don’t respond right away, it doesn’t mean I’m not listening to you. I am. And I’ve registered what you’ve said, and I’m thinking about it thoroughly, from a hundred different angles.
Which brings me to my daydreaming. You think it’s a problem because I seem absent. But while you see nothing but a blank face, I am fighting dragons and building castles, flying to space and swimming with sharks. I just can’t be in your world and mine at the same time. (Plus, mine is so much more fun!)
So, World, all I ask of you is to try and understand what it’s like to be me and trust that I am okay, even if I don’t fit your definition of okay. Just show me you’ll love me anyway, and will be there for me even when things get difficult and unpleasant, and have faith that with time, I will learn to process everything you have to offer without becoming overwhelmed.
It will happen, in good time, when I’m ready. So stop worrying.
A highly sensitive child