In my spare moments lately, I’ve been reading a Danish book that my mother-in-law recommended to me called “Highly Sensitive: Guide to the good life”. It’s a book written after Elaine N. Aron’s work on Highly Sensitive People, which is basically, people that are…well…highly sensitive. Being highly sensitive isn’t a diagnosis, but just a type of person, (like “introvert” or “extrovert”) who tend to experience things more intensely than most. I relate to almost everything in the book, and definitely identify as someone who is especially sensitive.
The book is sort of a collection of strategies, ideas, and tips on how, as a highly sensitive person, to thrive in a world that generally is overwhelming and can make things difficult. It’s a good read, although I do feel like I have a level of anxiety that isn’t just the result of overstimulation.
Anyway, reading this book right now is especially helpful, as I am going through the most stressful time since Theo was a tiny screaming human (okay, tinier, screamier human). Not only am I going to Danish classes, which means a rush in the morning, a long commute, and the sudden infringement of homework on my ever-so-treasured free time, but I have been working really hard on figuring out what I am going to do next, when these exams are over. I’ve explored countless career paths, and educations, and although I think I have finally gotten it narrowed down, there’s still choosing between schools, the application processes, and the ever-nagging feeling that the choices I am making aren’t quite the right ones.
All this combines to make an exquisite Stress Cocktail which I feel like would make anyone fall off their barstool, but I’ve been hit particularly hard, and I can’t count the number of breakdowns, mini- and major that I’ve endured over the past few months. It makes sense that I am feeling these things more intensely than some might
Some days, I feel like I am Good At Everything. My class goes well, my commute goes well, delicious dinner is on the table by six, and our family time is full of giggles and fun activities. And then there are days when I can hardly abide the thought of having to bike amongst the school rush-hour bike traffic (which is absolutely terrifying, by the way), much less having to make it through the rest of my day.
Some days, I can’t believe how awesome it is that I can cook, bake, knit, read books in Danish effortlessly, and be a great mom. And some days, I wonder if that time I raised my voice will make Theo think of me as a scary mom, and feel like I must be a huge flop since no one ever wants to give me even an interview. I feel both of these feelings so intensely when I do feel them, that almost every day is either a great day, or breakdown-bad day, and although I understand why, now more than ever, it is still quite frustrating.
But until life (hopefully) gets less stressful, and my plans get more concrete, I’m just doing my best to understand myself and ask for what I need from others to help me make it through this phase. Because there’s as much to enjoy right now as there is to stress me out. There are so many opportunities with school, I have met really wonderful people in my Danish class, Theo is, as usual, learning so many incredible new things every day, and spending the darker fall evenings cuddled up with Andreas is nothing short of a little bit of heaven in the corner of the couch.