Accepting My Sensory Sensitivities

For as long as I can remember my body and mind have been a conundrum of confusion. I am what is known by many as “sensory sensitive.” But the truth is I experience heightened sensitivities in most areas of my life. My sensitivities impact how I think and how I feel. My sensitivities shape how I experience my world and how I relate to other people.

In my world lights are bright, sounds are loud and I love, laugh and cry in exaggerated abundance. I am sensitive to change, so I like to know what is happening throughout my day.

I am sensitive to quiet and find bringing my body to a place of rest difficult. Equally and previously rather confusingly (because I would regard myself as outgoing), I am also sensitive to busy environments and find the bustle of crowds overwhelming. These sensitivities make pursuing a balanced middle ground something I have always worked towards but never experienced.

Because of these sensitivities, my body likes to move in ways that are outside of my conscious control. These movements can be big and bouncy at times, and at other times they can be more subtle such as little finger flicks or toe taps. Many people that regularly experience the world from the perspective of the middle ground misinterpret these movements as signs of anxiety or discomfort. But my movements bring me feelings of comfort.

I move to concentrate, I move to listen and I move to relax.

My sensitivities shape how I process my world and influence how I socialise with the people in it. My emotions can be immensely overwhelming due to how sensitive I am to bodily changes. My body can flood with a happiness that few in the middle ground seem to display. Happiness that elevates me to a place of elation. Emotion felt with such intensity that at times my own happiness can become too much. “Happy” can propel me to a place of tears, not because they are tears of happiness but because I do not have the ability to regulate even the most pleasant of emotions. They are just too big for me.

My sensitivities impact how I relate to other people. That is not to say I cannot relate to other people, but I am better able to relate to others who are like me — those of us who sit on the parameter of extremes. I gravitate towards the exuberant or the withdrawn. I feel comfortable in these realms as I know them both equally. I have repeatedly tried to find the middle ground, but I just do not see the world in the same way as they do.

In writing this, I am trying to process how I relate to myself. I want to find acceptance in my sensitivities because I am fed up with battling against them. I no longer want the middle ground I once longed for because I realised when you have sensitivities like mine, the middle ground is not an option. Instead I want to feel comfortable with who I am. I want to accept that these sensitivities make me who I am. I want to find acceptance in the notion that those who view from the middle ground may not understand me — not because there is something wrong with me but because we experience the world in two different ways.

Difference doesn’t have to be judged, degraded or “fixed.” Difference should be accepted for the unique strengths each viewpoint holds. Whether you experience the world from the middle ground or the peripheries, we must work together to create an inclusive society where differing experiences are respected, supported and given equal chance to develop and grow.