I want to talk about my feelings.
Actually, they’re so twisted that even shrinks don’t want to talk about them, so let’s talk about yours.
There’s a phrase I’ve heard over and over again — often when meeting people for the first time.
“I’m a really sensitive person.”
The minute this is said, my stomach tends to turn toward one of the poles and makes a troubled journey.
Several possibilities follow the bile juices on their jagged route.
First: This person may be easily hurt.
Second: This person may have a vast ego.
Third: This person may not share humor as easily as others.
Fourth: This person may be a raving drama queen.
I have done enormous research on this subject.
Every time someone volunteers this phrase, it’s clearly not a piece of casual conversation.
This is something they need to say. This is a billboard, not a classified ad.
Can it really be that some people are sensitive and some just aren’t?
Can it really be that there are people who know how sensitive they are and prefer to warn others of it?
She might be in the 1%. She might.
And can it be that there are people who have no idea how sensitive (or not) they are and have never bothered to measure themselves on the Sensitivity Exchange?
Or might the people who claim to be really sensitive merely be raving egotistical loons, desperate only to hear what they want to hear, because they’re incapable of disregarding the rest?
If there is this Sensitive Tribe wandering through the world, offering that its members are more emotionally attuned to the wavelengths of humanity, what makes them so different?
My expansive research has offered this result: There are two sorts of sensitive people.
There are those who are sensitive only about themselves.
Then there are those who are sensitive about you as well.
With a perfect level of (my) statistical significance, I can reveal that the first category comprises 99% of all “sensitive” people.
The full translation of “I’m a really sensitive person” is: “Look, I tend to hear every word you say in reference to me as a real-time referendum of who I am. Given that I am the product of a highly individualistic world, you’d better not say anything that I might misinterpret, or I will immediately get pissed. By the way, I am so busy thinking about myself that I just don’t have time to give a shit about you.”
The people who are extremely sensitive about themselves and about you are the rare human beings.
When it comes to dancers, there’s a delight in watching a marvelous solo.
But the truly uplifting performances are when two or more dancers create something that involves paying attention to their partner(s).
You don’t see that very often in human relationships. It’s odd that in a world that is supposed to be madly and socially networking, mutual sensitivity is not terribly fashionable.
When people are taking selfies and posting them, you’re supposed to tell them they’re lovely. If you don’t, you’re being insensitive.
When your supposed friends are posting ten pictures a day to Facebook and Instagram, you know what the “like” button is there for, don’t you?
If you don’t press it, you’ll hurt their feelings. You’ll send them into a spiritless depression from which they might not emerge for weeks.
They don’t stop to think that by posting so many lifeless, miserable, ill-composed examples of visual windbaggery, they’re actually hurting your feelings.
They don’t actually care.
Telling someone you’re really sensitive is, in this ego-pulsed world, an attempt to control their behavior.
It’s a warning to behave or else a hurricane of mood and offense will hurtle toward you at great speed.
I worry, though, whether it actually works.
In the end, when a person announces that they’re really sensitive, they immediately cut off vast tranches of possibility in their relationships.
These vast tranches might be summated in one small phrase: True caring.
By declaring your supposed “sensitivity,” you’re limiting your interactions with others because they know to tread carefully.
What often happens is that they don’t bother taking many steps at all, before realizing that your world is a modern one-way mirror.
I’m sorry if that sounded insensitive. I didn’t mean it to.
Image: Sarah Lorrai/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk