By: Nabilah Safa (@nabilahs88)
They were laughing at me. Again. I didn’t understand why.
“Oh stop being so sensitive, Nabilah, we’re just kidding.”
I felt my cheeks warm up as I tried to hold back tears. I wasn’t stupid. I knew they were making fun of me.
Sensitive. That word would follow me around my whole life.
I always felt like it was a bad thing to be sensitive and was continuously told that I needed to “toughen up.”
I would realize later that all my years through school I was not just being picked on, but bullied by the popular kids. I had a few friends who were like me: quiet, smart, and loved books.
Books saved my life. I was able to escape into different worlds, learn about different people, and sometimes find characters who were just like me: shy and sensitive.
I think another thing that made me an easy target to be picked on is I was nice. I simply couldn’t understand why people were unkind to one another (I still don’t understand), so even when people said mean things to me I’d simply stay quiet and ignore. One time in high school I finally confronted the girl who always felt the need to say some sort of cruel remark and simply asked her why she felt the need to say those things to me. She didn’t answer. Later my uncle picked me up from school and I pointed her out and he told me it was probably because she felt insecure about herself, and to not be angry with her but rather to try and understand that she was probably going through her own issues. Looking back I feel bad for her really, realizing now that must have been the way she coped, being mean to others because she felt bad about herself.
College was easier though, I found more like-minded people there and most people were there because they were excited to learn. I had great professors who encouraged me to come out of my shell a little bit and I realized that being a sensitive person was not necessarily a bad thing. Being sensitive meant that I understood people a lot better than most. I’d always been able to sense when someone felt sad or upset and now that I wasn’t so afraid to approach people, I was able to make friends more easily.
I never knew there was a term and what it meant until much later. Being able to research 'Highly Sensitive Person' and realizing I’m not the only one out there, and then later taking a personality test online and finding out I’m an INFP put everything into perspective. Did you know that only 4% of the population is an INFP? It made me realize that there weren’t very many people that had my same personality and that was why I had trouble understanding other people’s actions, and why they had trouble understanding me. It also made sense being “the mediator” of the population why I respond to situations the way I do, like trying to help people.
I’ve started to understand more and more why being sensitive is a strength, not a weakness. Why it makes me unique, and how I can use it to fuel my passions in life and not be ashamed or feel bad if someone calls me “too sensitive.” Instead, I’ll take that as a compliment.
When Nabilah is not writing, she is probably watching Netflix, or wanting to bake cookies. She loves her job helping people as a caregiver during the day. You can read more of her writings about living with bipolar disorder and anxiety on her blog: livingwithmybipolarlife.blogspot.com. You can also follow her on Instagram @nabilahs88