Craig: Has anyone ever told you that you’re a bit… weird?

The Doctor: They never really stop.

Doctor Who, “The Lodger” (Season 5, Episode 11)

Signs that you are a highly sensitive introvert:

  1. You hear, “Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you,” at least once per day.
  2. People are always trying to “get you out of your shell” at a big party, but the sounds and crowd make you feel too overwhelmed.
  3. In fact, you feel quite content within the rich inner life of your shell. No breaking out needed, thank you very much.
  4. You say that you have other plans when friends want to go out somewhere loud. Those plans involve ice cream and a new book. You do not regret it.
  5. Quiet time is not optional. It is a necessity for keeping you functioning properly.

Elaine Aron outlines more specifically what it means to be a highly sensitive person, including a test and reassurance that this is a perfectly normal personality trait, though it is not common enough to be well understood and appreciated.

Thanks to the magic of the internet, it is no longer necessary to feel alone or like an outsider because of your personality. There are enough resources to become self-aware, to understand what is going on inside, and to find more like-minded people who get you much better, sometimes, than those who think they know you well.

I have been fighting, for a while, the idea of categorizing myself, but sometimes it is necessary to stop myself from trying to fit into majority boxes like extrovert or into no boxes at all. Putting the components of yourself into neat little spaces is sometimes difficult, and, as a highly sensitive person, I become easily overwhelmed by the sheer amount of data available. And it is readily available. A quick search for “highly sensitive person” turns up over ten million results. Perhaps overwhelming is an understatement. It is an avalanche of information that buries me before I have time to begin processing it.

Some days, I wish life was as easy as jumping into the TARDIS with The Doctor. Instant adventure and personal growth, facilitated by someone wise, someone who has seen the future. But how can you really know that there aren’t Daleks on the other side of the jump? You can’t, of course, and that is part of being an adult. I can’t remember where I read it, but someone once said, “Only children think that grown-ups stop growing.” Sometimes, you have to move forward, even when you are afraid of what the future holds.

I am getting used to the idea of forcing myself to take a break. I am fine now with being occasionally overwhelmed, of needing to escape to a dark, quiet room after a party. I know this is what I need to do for myself.

So much of life becomes about self-care. As much as some of us (such as INFP me) want to dedicate our lives to the greater good, to help others, there has to remain a space for taking care of oneself. I can’t fully dedicate myself to anything unless I do things to make my mind as clear and capable as I can.