Just Because I’m Strong Doesn’t Mean I’m Not Sensitive

My strength and my sensitivity go hand in hand. If I have sensitivity without strength, I break. If I have strength without sensitivity, I harden. As corny as it sounds, the two need to balance each other out to keep my heart protected and bare simultaneously. Don’t mistake me for weak, though — that combination makes me a better friend, lover, and person.

  1. My outsides are tough and my insides are soft. A seashell has a tough exterior to protect itself from the world’s legitimate dangers. I too use my strength to keep myself safe. I set boundaries, ask for what I need, and cut people out of  my life if they become toxic. On the other side of that strong exterior, the shell holds its life in the softness. I’m always open to love and try to be sympathetic, empathetic, and caring towards everyone I meet.
  2. I have a heart of gold, but I also know how to protect myself. Not only am I soft, but I’m an empath, or highly sensitive person. I feel everything deeply as if my senses, thoughts, and feelings multiply in intensity. Feeling so much is a beautiful gift, but can also be very dangerous because there are inevitably people in the world who take advantage of me. To protect myself, I’ve learned to have a shield, holding my energy at arm’s length before I know someone is worthy of enjoying it.
  3. I’m resilient AF. Because of my strength and sensitivity, I may be knocked down, but you can always count on me getting back up. Resiliency is my middle name. I’m tough as nails to take on what life throws at me and I have a heart of gold that helps me heal. When someone breaks my heart, it hurts like hell but it doesn’t break my spirit. Instead, I bounce back even stronger.
  4. I can’t see the goodness without also holding space for the pain. There’s a popular misconception that if we’re positive enough, we can selectively feel joy but not pain. I know that I need to open myself up to the entire spectrum of feelings in order to truly experience life. Both my strength and sensitivity enable me to move through discomfort around talking to my partner about something that bothers me. They also allow me to snort in laughter when that same partner does something totally silly. My toughness and softness help me feel the fullness of being a human.
  5. Don’t mistake my sensitivity for weakness. It’s common for me to cry. My friends see my tears regularly and always have tissues at the ready. My tears don’t mean my strength is failing or falling away, though. They’re an indication of my willingness to face life head-on. I recently quit a job that I love in order to care for health troubles that have recently arisen. You’d better believe that I’m grieving over losing a job that I adored. These tears don’t mean I’m unstable or made a mistake, though — they’re just showing that I’m in touch with my feelings.
  6. Despite being sensitive, I’m still discerning. Sure, I’m sensitive. You’ll see me shed tears, express concern, and squeal in excitement at passing dogs. Still, this openness to love the world doesn’t mean I allow myself to be trampled by it. I’m selective when deciding what to welcome into my life. I’ll give you the boot if you’re a toxic friend or a player. I know my worth and expect you to as well.
  7. I have a ton of empathy. My strength allows me to be out in the world and to witness difficult experiences that friends, relatives, and strangers are struggling with. If I was just strong, I wouldn’t be all that useful except for maybe a shoulder to cry on. Since my softness goes along with my strength, I’m able to offer non-judgment, understanding, and even my own experience if the person wants to hear it.
  8. I definitely need time alone to recharge. Often people assume I have an endless supply of strength and softness to offer. I’m even struck by that same delusion sometimes, but then I’m quickly reminded when the exhaustion in my mind and body whispers to me to get some rest. Having alone time to recharge my batteries is tremendously important.
  9. Sometimes I break and I won’t apologize for it. Being both sensitive and strong simultaneously takes a ton of energy and practice. At the end of the day, I’m a human being and I have my breaking point. I recently had a family member tell me that my mental illness was my own fault. I usually don’t react with shouting through teary eyes, but that’s what she got. I had a visceral reaction because she went too far. I wasn’t in a place to pause before reacting. In this instance and many others, I’m not sorry.
  10. I’m tough and strong, but I am not hard. Strength and toughness is one thing, but hardness is another thing that can actually be fatal. The author Kurt Vonnegut said “Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.” I can rest in the knowledge that there’s difficulty amongst beauty and softness amongst toughness.
Ginelle has been writing professionally for more than six years and has a bachelor’s degree in digital marketing & design. Her writing has appeared on Birdie, Thought Catalog, Tiny Buddha and more. You can follow her on Instagram @ginelletesta, via her Facebook page, or through her website at ginelletesta.com.