Turn your sensitivity into your superpower

By Kalena Reynolds | Staff Writer

For as long as I can remember, sensitivity has poured through my veins like molasses on a hot summer day. I’ve always felt like my emotions were a glass ball that I balanced on top of my head, having to work my hardest not to trip and shatter accidentally.

It took me a multitude of years to understand the basis of my sensitivity and just how much of it I had. I was born an only child to older parents who both worked, which was a recipe for isolation.

Although I spent a lot of time alone as a child, I never disliked it. Ultimately, isolation created my inner awareness. On the one hand, I’m incredibly grateful for the intimate relationship I have with my happiness and sadness, but before I understood the topic, I hated my feelings.

Grief, specifically, has always been the most complicated emotion to digest. The feelings that occurred from losing pets as a child felt like a death sentence. Even at 6 years old, I lay on the pink flower carpet in my bedroom, clenching my stuffed cat and bawling for days after receiving the news that my parents would have to put down one of our family horses.

Grief still feels the same at 20 years old. Engulfed in a cocoon of sadness, I suddenly find myself curled back up on my pink flower carpet, feeling like I can’t breathe again.

While it may be a mystery to others, I know exactly where I acquired the melody of sensitivity that arranged itself through my bones, and it all relates to one instance as a child. I got it from my mother.

I was probably 7 or 8, and my mom was driving through hills that, at the bottom, would have flooded if there had been recent rain. Once we arrived at the bottom of one of the hills, my mom came to a screeching stop, leaving me utterly confused.

Eventually, she got out of her truck, walked a few feet forward, and bent down so she was out of sight from my back row car seat view. Anticipation rising, she stood up again with a turtle in her hands.

She had stopped in the middle of the road, at the bottom of a hill, just to move a turtle out of the way of traffic. It was such a measly creature, but my mom insisted on saving it.

I think that is when I truly learned what it means to feel, to inhale and exhale the atoms of emotions and to truly be human. I quickly learned that I could not get rid of all my feelings. Ignoring them led to even more sorrow. While I can’t say it’s been easy, learning to open up to my emotions and welcome them in like a friend has helped me improve my life.

The strongest tool we have as humans is our ability to connect, which requires emotional vulnerability and openness, not just with ourselves but also with others. And just like my mom’s impulse to save a turtle in danger, her emotions always connected her to the world and gave her strength.

If emotions made you weak, people wouldn’t be so drawn to things that connect with our feelings, like music, movies and books. Stories wouldn’t be a central component of our world.

Open up. Connect. Let your emotions break you. Learn to act from your heart. And, most importantly, feel.