When I first decided to start my own website, I used to have debilitating fears about being seen and found by people. "Put yourself out there"- a phrase I often heard but every cell in my body seemed to resist despite knowing it was probably the logical thing to do. I made one but ensured my name was nowhere to be found and shyly kept it a secret for no one to see for a while.
I often wondered:
What am I so afraid of?
Why does it feel so impossible?
But somehow, I am here (on my second website ) to talk about something that feels so vulnerable that I, a few years ago, wouldn't even be able to fathom it. This will be an account of my journey of living as my very neurotic self every day.
Firstly, definitions. According to Wikipedia, individuals with high scores for neuroticism are more likely than average to be moody and to experience such feelings as anxiety, worry, fear, anger, frustration, envy, jealousy, guilt, depressed mood, and loneliness. Such people are thought to respond worse to stressors and are more likely to interpret ordinary situations, such as minor frustrations, as appearing hopelessly difficult.
Doesn't sound pleasant, does it? I had always known that I experience emotions intensely, both good and bad. But my awareness of it solidified when I took a Big Five personality test, and I lie in the 97th percentile for neuroticism. When I saw the results, it was a combination of both shock and relief.
But this was my first step into emotionally regulating myself, which is one of the most essential skills in today's world and in having healthy long-term relationships. I dove into self-soothing tools that include eating a high-protein breakfast at a predictable time every day, regular exercise, specifically weight lifting, box breathing and other meditation techniques, proper sleeping habits, journaling, and channeling it into making myself more self-aware. It is often chaotic, emotional, and deeply stirring and makes me wonder how some people are naturally so stoic. I also feel physically sick at the thought of hurting someone, creating a sense of conflict avoidance. But that, combined with my insistence to always do the right thing and put myself outside of my comfort zone, often makes life feel like I'm crashing through endless waves instead of riding them. This blog post feels like one of those waves.
However, it isn't all bad. This sensitivity has also allowed me to appreciate life's dark aspects in all of its glory. Highly neurotic people are also very good at risk detection. So, in an ever-changing world, my chances of becoming a billionaire improve if I ever want to become an investor.
Jokes aside, neuroticism makes me appreciate art better, unleash my creativity and attune to the world's suffering, ultimately increasing my empathy toward those in need. Even some of my engineering projects have been motivated by deep emotions instead of linear logic. And as someone who enjoys leadership roles, I can also be much more familiar with other people's emotional states. I am hoping that will pay dividends in the long term.
So, is it a blessing or a curse? For me, it is a struggle to manage on a day-to-day basis, but on a macro scale, I can usually appreciate its role retrospectively. I already feel better writing this blog post since we live in a world where logic triumphs over everything else. I am here to say that logic and emotions are not mutually exclusive and equally important.
So, this post is for everyone who gets told they are too sensitive. That you feel too much and too deeply. Choose to see it as a gift and utilize it as a tool. And because it sits at the core of who we are, learn to embrace it. And just like my friend once told me, "You tend to overthink with your heart"; what an honour to let both the heart and the head be fully heard.
To end, I want to insert a quote by Sylvia Plath and a note by Carl Jung that I believe appropriately encompasses living with my neurotic self,
"I do not know what it is like not to have deep emotions,
even when I feel nothing, I feel it completely."
Thank you for reading.