Sometimes I wonder if I was born in the wrong time. Or maybe the wrong place. This modern life is not the ideal environment for an introverted HSP like myself. All the information overload. The packed schedules. The social media. Advertising. Piles of possessions. Constant noise and light.
As the book Quiet emphasized, we live in a society where loud, outgoing, fearless extroverts are the ideal.
Introversion- along with its cousins sensitivity, seriousness, and shyness- is now a second-class personality trait, somewhere between a disappointment and a pathology.
― Susan Cain,
It makes sense- who can best survive and thrive in this kind of world? Who can handle all the noise and information? Who can compete with the chaos and clutter? The loud, outgoing, fearless.
It sucks when who I am at my core- sensitive, observant, cautious, slow to speak- is not what our society values most. I’ve learned to embrace my HSP qualities even though they are often misunderstood or devalued. The trait of sensory processing sensitivity exists because it was once very useful to our ancestors. Imagine a time when being an HSP was seen as awesome, the ideal.
I think of Ma from the Little House on the Prairie TV series. I haven’t seen the show in decades (I’m dating myself here), but from what I remember, Mrs. Ingalls was soft-spoken, gentle yet resilient, industrious, and tuned in to the needs of her family and townspeople. She was respected and admired by all, unlike that chatty, fire-tongued busybody Mrs. Oleson.
I think I’d do quite well in back then (aside from the spiders and cholera and whatnot). I think I’d like the quiet and the stillness. The forced relaxation at night (not much of a night life on the prairie). I’d like reading by candlelight or having quiet conversations by the fire. I’d like socializing with the neighbors at church or at the occasional town fair, but would probably be immersed in my family duties and my tiny house most of the time. Some things I’d be good at as an HSP:
- Foraging mushrooms.
- Remembering which mushrooms are poisonous.
- Distinguishing bird calls.
- Spotting poison oak.
- Tending to a garden.
- Preparing for the winter.
- Mending stockings or embroidering by the fire and not getting bored.
- Singing lullabies to my children.
- Perfecting my apple pie for the fair.
So what’s an HSP to do? I have two options.
A. I can move somewhere off the grid and buy some land and actually live this slower paced, old fashioned lifestyle. Believe me, I’ve thought of it. It’s not totally out of the question for us to buy some acreage in the wilderness someday.
B. I can try to carve out calmer, slower, more peaceful life right here where I am.
The more practical option for me is B. Forming a little cocoon around me. That’s the tagline of this blog: Longing for a calm heart and home. It’s the only way I’ll have the energy and drive to go out into this crazy world and accomplish things and be part of the community. This book has helped me craft that more peaceful lifestyle for myself and my HSC. I highly recommend it if you’re feeling like you don’t belong here, either.
P.S. There are cultures where HSPs are still the ideal. Japan is one of those places. I’m not moving to Japan though.