On Being Sensitive

A few weeks ago I was told that I need to grow a thicker skin. I was battling a cold, a slow to creep up, sore throat, icky headache cold. I was scheduled to teach a workshop. The workshop was low in registration. I called to cancel the morning of. I was told that I should suck it up. And for a moment, I almost did.

The thing is, I have heard this type of thing my entire life. I have been called “too sensitive” from the time I was a child. I have been teased and ridiculed for my tenderness, laughed at for my lack of “strength”, and isolated because the world does not cater to sensitive people. In many ways, I have been told not to listen to my truest feelings, but instead to wear a mask and pretend to be something I am not, because that’s the only way I would “make it” in life.

I look at my son now, 18 months just around the corner. People already say that he is a “sensitive soul”. It’s true. He is gentle. He is slow to warm up to people. His voice is softer than most, unless he knows his audience well. He clings. He needs reassurance and the comfort of mom in many situations. My son, is a sensitive boy.

I worry for him. It was hard enough to grow up as a highly sensitive person, and be female. Boys… Men are not typically applauded for their sensitivity. They are all to often shamed, bullied, put-down, told to “toughen up”. I don’t want for my son to feel that his beautiful, sensitive heart, is anything to be ashamed of. I don’t want for him to feel the isolation that I felt, and often feel, from a world that does not value quiet, introspective, sensitive people. I do not want for him to learn that he shouldn’t listen to his body, his heart, that he shouldn’t follow what he knows to be best for him, even if it is different from everyone else.

I want for my son to show his strength, by standing up for his sensitivity.

So I stood up for mine. I made a decision that perhaps was “bad” for my business, because it was right for my body, and my heart. I am my son’s model, his teacher. I want him to value himself over any amount of money in the world. I want him to appreciate the gift of his tenderness, his gentle soul.

This world is harsh. This world can be unkind. This world is competitive, fast, demanding, loud, intrusive, and challenging. But who are we, and what are we creating, if we change ourselves to fit the mold the world wants us to fit? Do we not all love and proclaim Gandhi’s words “be the change”? And yet if we can not allow ourselves to be who we are, despite all pressures, what change will there be?

I want to teach my son that he can “be the change”, that he can love, and work, and be however he chooses. Choice. It all comes down to choice. I am choosing kindness, towards myself, towards my family, towards my neighbor. I am choosing to believe that this will make a difference. I am choosing my to stand up for my sensitivity, and his.

reading at table

4 thoughts on “On Being Sensitive

  1. Jozie, I have always admired your sensitive soul, maybe because I am one myself (the curmudgeonly demeanor is really only a protective shell, as I think you know). In a world that is filled with clangor, it’s the quiet ones that really make a difference, if only by being a calm, still center. You are the change; just keep on keepin’ on… Love, Dad

  2. I signed up for your class. You did not cancel one class due to illness. That may have been understandable. You cancelled multiple classes over an extended period. If you know you’re “too sensitive” to work in those conditions then why continue to schedule classes? You hurt other peoples schedules and waste their time and money. You should count yourself lucky that you have the luxury of not working due to a cold. Most people do push through. You know there are people that work with much more serious illnesses right? You can teach your son to be a sensitive individual without quitting at every bump in the road.

  3. I’d also like to add that if you want to portray yourself as a “working mom” who just needed one day of “me time” you should at least portray yourself accurately. Instead of playing to your readers sympathies why don’t you acknowledge that you have no respect for other peoples time, and a poor work ethic. You made yourself look like a flake. Regardless of if your reasons for missing your first classes were legitimate, a person who cared about their business and the time of their clients would have “sucked it up” when they had a cold to avoid making them self look like a poor worker, do you really expect anyone to go to you for their business when there are many other qualified individuals who can be relied upon not to cancel? Don’t inaccurately portray yourself, you aren’t fooling anyone.

    1. Hi Jackie,

      I want to take a moment to say thank you for your comments on my blog. And to apologize that you were affected in a negative way by my choice to cancel my classes. It was not my intent to waste your time or money, only to protect you and your child from my germs. I do know that many other moms have to work through illnesses, and I do understand that I “have the luxury” to cancel when I am sick. This luxury is the result of many choices I have made in my life, to work in a way that is consistent with my values. But once again, I am sorry that it affected you negatively.

      My blog is not intending to fool anyone, it is simply a place where I express myself. I realize that my choice to cancel class negatively affected my business. Of course, that stinks, and I have obviously lost out on customers, like yourself. Running a business is hard work. Balancing it with being a new mom is even harder. There are many people who do it, and do it well. I am simply doing the best that I can.

      I wish you well, and thank you for your honesty.

      Sincerely,
      Jozie

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