No offense, but...

Offense taken. So much more offense than you ever anticipated. Being sensitive isn't a one and done thing; instead, sensitivity is a way of life that can both open you up and shut you down, oftentimes doing both within three minutes of each other.

I am sensitive. 

Those three words are so difficult to type. I fear backlash, reproach, insults, criticisms, negative opinions, and cruel jokes. Few people admit that they get their feelings hurt easily and often - it's not trendy. We're all supposed to be confident and brave. But I've spent the better part of my life fighting against my natural, sensitive nature and I don't want to anymore.

I can dish it out, but I can't take it. I love praise and hate blame. I run from conflict. I greatly dislike criticism, constructive or otherwise. I don't play well with others who don't play nicely. Everything being fair is very important to me. Just thinking someone is talking about me behind my back is equivalent to that person actually doing it. My mind is incredible at making a Hell out of Heaven and all that.

Being sensitive means that you don't just remember every slight against you, you remember every time you think someone else's feeling might have been or should have been hurt. Every embarrassing moment, offhand comment, and "laughing but serious" joke made in your presence.

I remember being behind Danielle in the lunch line when I was in fifth grade. The lunch lady tried to charge her the requisite $1.25 for her paltry pizza and tangy chocolate milk and Danielle looked visibly struck. The other kids around me began laughing immediately when Danielle had to say, "I get free lunch," in a hushed, country whisper. I stood behind her, silent. This was over 15 years ago and I can still see her face, her unwashed hair that would later cause a lice outbreak, and still hear her embarrassed voice as she confirmed for the line that she was well below the poverty line.

My mom has always said that I'm like a puppy. When other people are sad, I'm sad. If I see someone crying, I start to cry. Oh, someone's laughing now? A smile is on my face and a laugh on my lips before I can help myself. I'm very empathetic and I feel very deeply.

My heightened sensitivity and empathetic nature both make me an introvert. I recharge when I'm alone because there's no one to please, no one's thoughts for me to obsess over, and no one's emotions for me to plagiarize. I can just be.

In life, I fear saying the wrong thing to the wrong person and looking like the idiot I often believe myself to be. I fear failing at anything because all I really want in life is to be great at something. I fear flying insects being around my ears, nose or mouth; I fear making an irreversible mistake; I fear the debt I've accumulated and not being able to dig myself out of it; I simultaneously fear never getting married and having children and doing just that.

But I can't stay alone forever, and honestly, I wouldn't want to. So here I am, living in China in an effort to find myself, have an adventure, and see more of the world. On the bright side, I am getting to know myself better, which is really just accepting myself for who I am. On the dark side, I worry that I'm not really changing or growing, instead just becoming more stuck in my sensitive, easily offended ways.