A Love Letter to Introverted, Sensitive, Introspective, Smart, Empathetic, Overthinking Perfectionists.
Some of my best friends are introverted, sensitive, introspective, smart, and empathetic.
I also love overthinking perfectionists who obsess about creating a better world through raising the consciousness of humans, healing the dysfunction in their families and communities, parenting compassionate children, or finding loving-kindness in the chaos.
And let’s face it. If you’re reading this, you are an introverted, sensitive, introspective, smart, empathetic, overthinking, perfectionist. Am I right?
And, even though you could be one of my best friends, well, you may still be anxious, lonely, overwhelmed, or in despair.
For many reasons.
Are you an introvert? Chances are that you’re not the life of the party. In fact, you avoid parties. Why do people go to those things anyway? What could they possibly enjoy? Small talk? Please. You may be pressuring yourself to socialize more because that’s what normal people do. But that pile of 15 half-read books by your bed? Now, that makes you giddy.
It’s not that you don’t like people. It’s just that more than one at a time is such a bad idea. On so many levels.
Are you highly sensitive? You may be easily overwhelmed by things that other people do not even notice. This can be embarrassing, as in, you have to leave the room because the sound of George chewing drives you bonkers, or the smell of Chanel makes you sick, or you’ve painted your living room 12 times and it’s still not right.
You also have deep and wide-ranging emotions, so you’re often seen as a drama queen or a sissy. Not only that, you’re deeply moved by a starry sky or by a well-crafted TV commercial for auto insurance.
Are you introspective? You may be seen as self-indulgent, self-absorbed, or even narcissistic. This is frustrating because, in reality, you’re determined to understand the nature of humanity and, in particular, your own inner demons. All of this courageous inner exploration is the generous gift you give your ancestors and future generations.
Your willingness to face the dark night of your soul is the opposite of narcissism. Perhaps you’ve been told to be less serious. Have more fun. Don’t they know that introspection is rather fun? And, hey, you’re saving them from your demons, for heaven’s sake. Where is their gratitude?
Are you super smart? I would have used the word gifted here, but then you may have stopped reading. Right? But you are gifted. Your capacity for learning and understanding is vast. There are many thoughts going on in your brain, and often several at one time.
Even if your schooling experiences didn’t result in high grades or spelling bee championships, even if you aren’t a rocket scientist, your thirst for knowledge is unmistakable. You make connections, seek relationships, and adore libraries and bookstores. You’re the intellectual fire hose to everyone else’s garden hose.
Are you empathetic? You have intuition and compassion that is extraordinary. You experience others’ emotions and burdens, and you want to be of service. You might even have psychic talents. Clairvoyance, for example. Dreams that provide answers to your questions. Connections with the metaphysical or shamanic realms.
This particular trait may be the one that you hide from the most. Especially if there are misdiagnoses, religious zealots, or judgmental relatives in your lives past.
Are you an overthinker? I’m sure that you’ve been told that you think too much. What’s really happening is that you’re doing what comes naturally. I might even suggest that everyone else is underthinking. You’re just thinking. Of course, we need to distinguish this from rumination, which you might also do.
You may worry excessively because you have a creative mind that can generate many thoughts — worries, anxieties, and fears among them. But rumination is not the same as your natural capacity for deep, analytical, creative, fabulous overthinking.
Are you a perfectionist? You can be persnickety to a fault. You may be terrified of mediocrity and failure. You might be a carefully honed procrastinator. Not ideal. You might need therapy to grapple with all of it. Lucky for you, you’re introspective. But, that’s not the whole story. You were born with a healthy perfectionism.
You’re passionate about beauty, balance, harmony, precision, and justice. And that is ideal. And needed. Now. In these times. Most definitely.
So, my darlings, if you’re anxious, lonely, overwhelmed, or in despair, and if you’re an introverted, sensitive, introspective, smart, empathetic, overthinking perfectionist, there is hope. Because what you may not know is that all of these traits mean that you actually have a powerful, effervescent, radiant, multidimensional rainforest mind. You can read all about it here.
So thanks, bestie. Good to meet you.
Paula Prober is a psychotherapist, blogger, author, consultant and tango dancer living in Eugene, Oregon. She blogs at Your Rainforest Mind, a blog in support of the excessively curious, creative, smart and sensitive. She writes aboutmental, emotional, intellectual, social, and spiritual health for know-it-alls, geeks, dropouts, perfectionists, wonderers and empaths in her book Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth.