When Opportunity Knocks, but it Isn’t Looking for You

How about those women’s marches? I feel better about my country than I have in months.
View of the January 21, 2017 women's march in a major city with protestors filling the street between tall buildings and holding signs
As it happens, I didn’t attend one. Pop-up protests over the past few years have been a major source of stress in my life, and I’m pretty angry about that. The same few demonstrators show up to anyone’s march, looting, breaking windows, vandalizing random cars, and stoning police. Not a constructive way to espouse a cause. I depend on public transit, and a few dozen demonstrators can close it down for hours. As I result, I have often been stranded far from home, in the middle of a very tense situation, lugging 30 pounds of perishable groceries.

Because of this, I am on alert lists for the bus company and police department. Which is how I heard about the women’s march – the bus company sent out an advance email about expected service disruptions. Other than that, I saw only a TV commercial, which surprised me. Protest marches advertise? That’s new. But given aforementioned experiences with protests, I wasn’t intrigued enough to find out more.

But on the day of the march, when texts from the police department started coming in with massive numbers, I realized something different and historical was happening. I briefly considered going, until I got a text from the bus company saying they had completely closed down bus service to the downtown core. I texted back “completely unacceptable!,” but I was relieved from the decision of whether to enter an intensely crowded, noisy situation where my ability to retreat would’ve been severely limited.

Maybe I would’ve risen above the limits of sensitivity on the group high. Then again, I tend towards disturbed-hibernating-bear syndrome in January, so maybe not.

But even from my armchair, it was pretty cool. And the more I learned about it, the more amazing it got. It wasn’t just the massive turnouts in major cities. There were also hundreds (not an exaggeration) of marches in smaller towns, and even tiny villages, some of them in very bad weather and/or unfriendly environments.

I’m something of a coward about putting myself physically and visibly on the line. I’ve found some peace with this reluctance, now that I understand it’s a pretty natural reaction for an HSP introvert. There’s more than one way to be an activist. Still, I respect people who expose themselves in that way, even if it feels less risky to them than it would to me. If you participated, thank you. A lot. Thank you for showing me I wasn’t alone.

But this post isn’t about that. The rest of it isn’t, anyway :)

What’s New – or Not – with Me

My self-employed career isn’t going well. It turns out there is a fatal flaw in my business plan (this is a figure of speech. If you happen to be comparing yourself with me, I don’t want to deceive you into thinking I have anything as organized as a written plan). I’ve done a really excellent job at finding people I emotionally resonate with as clients. Over and over, they tell me they chose to work with me because they felt I understood them.

And I do. They are people who are going it alone, carving out their own career niche, plus a few passionate bloggers who just have to write. Like me. Most of them are struggling financially, also like me, with a very limited budget for things like… my services. I have done an excellent job of finding my peers. At creating myself an income, not so much.
Continue reading

SensitiveType on Facebook

My brain is abuzz with all of the things I read and see that I want to share with you. The backlog is getting too huge to ever catch up, though, so I set up a Facebook page where I can post things that don’t make it into a SensitiveType blog post. Check it out (there’s also a link in the right sidebar).
A screenshot of the SensitiveType Facebook page

Finish Lines

I ran two races at once to win lives that were precious to me. My opponent was Death.

Death had a head start.

Sometimes I ran strong, hopeful and determined. Other times I faltered, exhausted, confused about where to go, feeling I had already lost. Always, whichever race I was running, I felt myself falling behind in the other.

In the end, Death won them both.

An animated calico cat runs across the screen

HSP Videos

Here are a few of my favorite HSP-related videos for your viewing enjoyment, or to share with people in your life who may not be ready for the whole movie yet.

Signs You Might be a Highly Sensitive Person

Signs You Might Be Highly Sensitive video- Ane Axford
Ane Axford & friends act out traits of HSPs. This list has some things I hadn’t heard elsewhere – it was the first place I heard that HSPs are often perceived as flirting when they’re not, which explained a lot. I think my favorite is #7. Or maybe it’s #9. Or is it #8?

I most enjoy this video for the list (from 1:50 to 6:00), which is bookended by text that won’t be news to anyone who already identifies as HSP. However, the opening and closing verbiage and humor of this video makes it a good one to gently introduce someone to the sensitive trait. Continue reading

Sensitive Movie Released

A screenshot from the website and trailer of Sensitive - The Untold Story showing two people standing together in a natural settings watching a sunsetSensitive – The Untold Story is now available on demand at the very affordable rate of $4.99 for 3 days of unlimited viewing, or for purchase as a digital download ($9.99). Here’s the link.

DVDs (with subtitles for several as-yet-unspecified languages) should be available before the holidays.

Here is an in-depth review of the film on HuffPost by Sezin Koehler, whose reactions were so similar to my own that I probably don’t need to write one. Like her, I felt some discomfort with random images of children of color in developing nations interposed among interviews with predominantly white HSPs and researchers from the U.S. and Europe, and with a somewhat bizarre enactment of a disagreement between a couple on how to respond to their son’s sensitivity.

It should perhaps be noted that the whole project was initiated by Elaine Aron’s African-American neighbor, Will Harper, who read one of her books and realized he was an HSP.

In any event, as Ms. Koehler says, while the film’s flaws must be acknowledged, we can choose to focus on the interesting and instructive aspects of the film, which are many. It’s definitely worth seeing, whether you are an HSP or not. If we make up 20% of the population, you probably know someone who is.

A Sensitive Subject

That would be me. Sensitive: The Untold Story was fine. I would buy it and show it to people, which I think is what it’s for. I am still processing it (naturally!) and will have more to say about it later.

Photo of an inspirational wall plaque with the message "Don't let anyone EVER dull your sparkle."As for the premiere, nobody paid any attention to the dress code, as far as I could see. Guests arrived in everything from jeans to red carpet attire. I dressed for comfort more than display, and was glad I did. Several times during the discussion that followed the film, Elaine Aron advised HSPs to “do what you need to do” to take care of yourself, regardless of what people say, so that’s all good.

I’m still disgruntled that we were told how to dress. A reminder not to wear scents would’ve been a lot more useful. I had to change my seat due to a woman doused in so much perfume that it gave me an instant headache from 4 rows away. And then I felt bad about doing so, because she was also there alone, looking uncomfortable, and I didn’t want her to feel rejected!

I surveyed the crowd and tried to determine if there was anything different about it. This was hampered by the fact that I don’t have much basis for comparison, as I avoid crowds assiduously. Maybe there was a little more automatic consideration of others. Conversations were animated, but not loud. And only a very small handful of people came alone. Other than that, I couldn’t really tell I was in a roomful of HSPs. I’ll have to work on my sensitividar.

I recognize my fear was exacerbated by being an HSP. I knew it while I was I writing my last post, but that didn’t reduce my anxiety one iota!

As someone who has benefited so greatly from Elaine Aron’s work, I felt I was not being entirely nice to raise class issues in that post. I wouldn’t want to hurt her feelings. Yet, the issue is a valid one, so would it be fair to myself not to raise it, out of fear of offending or swimming against the tide? Fair vs. nice, always a challenge!

Ultimately, I let the critique stand, along with the fear, as an example of HSP thinking. Aron knows this thinking all too well, so I think she will understand. She is, after all, a psychologist!

There are a couple of other things going on with me lately that I haven’t written about yet due to the impending premiere. I’ll talk about them in upcoming posts.

HSPersona non grata

I am troubled by the dress code for attendance at the premiere of Sensitive: The Untold Story tonight. Yes, you read right, there’s a “business casual” dress code to attend a movie. We were informed in the same email that audience members might be filmed for the live stream.

Regular readers will remember what a revelation it was when I realized I could dress like myself at a new job. “Business casual” is exactly the standard that had kept my best-loved clothes in the closet (literally). We’re not talking studded g-strings and nipple pasties* here, just a little more color and individuality than “business casual” generally encompasses.

I made something I was particularly proud of recently, and was planning to wear it in celebration as I attended a film about my kind. I still plan to wear it, and being in San Francisco, it will probably be fine, despite the creeping Marinism**. But the unlooked for transformation of my act of self-sharing into an act of defiance takes all the joy out of it.
peacock at the gate 350x230
Coupled with the location that is not friendly to public transit, I am feeling less and less welcome at this event, and am really wondering if it is meant for me at all. I can understand the desire to put the best face on high sensory processing sensitivity at its coming out party. But how are HSPs who don’t fit the definition of “professional” supposed to feel when they are asked to put on a false front for the livestream-viewing public, as if their real selves are somehow too undesireable to be associated with the film? Wasn’t the whole point of this film to promote HSPs being who they are? Or was it?

This will be my first experience in a room full of mostly HSPs. In fact, this will be my first experience interacting in person with anyone who self-identifies as an HSP. Regular readers will know that a previous attempt at virtual interaction with other HSPs did not go so well. I have no idea what to expect, and I’m attending alone. Frankly, I’m scared.


* Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but scanty outfits would obviously be inconsiderate attire for an HSP event, as they would cause everyone else in the room to feel cold.

** Marin County, home to Elaine Aron, is known for being one of the most affluent and least racially diverse counties in the greater San Francisco Bay area.