I was just featured in a column in Positive Health by Handan Satiroglu about Highly Sensitive People (HSP).
A few years ago I learned this term meant people who are sensitive to extremes of light and sound, and I finally understood that I wasn't alone in this feeling.
The term was coined by Dr Elaine Aron in her book, The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You. In it, she provides questions to help determine if you are a HSP—from whether you were called introverted or shy as a child, to if you need to withdraw after a busy day to a quiet, dark place to refuel. I remember being surprised that other people actually avoided scary movies and overwhelming situations. I thought it was just me!
I fully realize that this group is in the minority and living in a major city I can't do a lot about street noise. However, knowing what I require to perform at my best helps me make better decisions. Avoiding back-to-back parties, choosing muted colors for my bedroom or even turning off the bing! sound my computer makes when I receive a new email or IM. To me, this little things make a huge difference.
In fact, I think this sensitivity gives me a unique perspective on life. Why else would my photos tend toward the tiny, rarely seen moments that happen in the natural world. Tree bark, the veins on a leaf. I think my sensitivity to subtle changes helps make me a good coach, a good friend and a good neighbor.
Taking it one step further....having highly sensitive people in the world ensures balance. People who are go-getters and stage stealers, and people who see what's really happening below the surface.