I'm easily overwhelmed by, well, everything.

I’m a Highly Sensitive Person, or HSP. Knowing this one thing explains a lot about my past, present and (like it or not) my future. HSPism is as fixed into one’s genetic code as eye color or where one’s body stores excess fat. (Aron)

But what does it mean to be a HSP? Take the following quiz.

Score Key:
0 = Me? Not in a million years!
1 = I’ve been known to think/feel this way.
2 = Yup, that pretty much describes me most days.
3 = That’s scary, I didn’t think anyone knew I’m like that–am I being secretly filmed?

How true are these statements for you?

1. I prefer being alone. There are way too many raving lunatics out there.

2. I avoid watching the news. It’s too depressing. No wonder the commercials advertize medications for impotence, insomnia, and indigestion.

3. No matter what the emotion, I cry. I even cry when other people are emotional. Sometimes I cry when I watch those commercials for impotence, insomnia, or incontinence.

4. I startle easily. Loud noises, especially of the cannon or semi-automatic gun variety, make me jump.

5. I have neither a “fight” nor “flight” response. I have the unfortunate “suck-in-a-deep-breath-and-freeze” response. Since I am rarely dressed in camouflage, this reaction to a perceived danger is one that would get me killed in the wild. I stay away from the wild.

5. I hate surprises. People jumping out at me from around the corner scare me. My heart races and my head explodes. Fun for you; torture for me.

6. I avoid conflict at all costs. If saying “I’m sorry” will avoid a fight, I’ll say it–even if the other person started it.

7. Angry people make me nervous, but not angry.

8. I don’t do well under stress. Okay, I freak out when I’m stressed. Where are my meds?

9. I can handle only one conversation at a time. Dinner parties, picnics, keggers, you name it–anywhere large groups of people (6+) gather together and cross-talk, I zone out. Conversations scramble in my head. My eyes glaze over. People wonder, am I meditating or medicating?

10. I’m a “pick up” artist. It’s not what you’re thinking. I have really good intuition about people or situations. My gut is a gut you can trust.

Score Interpretation:

0-5: HIP. You are one cool customer as a Highly Insensitive Person. Don’t take this the wrong way! Well, you wouldn’t, would you? It means that you meet the world head on and you aren’t at all phased by what or whom you encounter. Good for you. The world needs fearless warriors. I’m afraid of people like you.

6-15: SIP. You are a Semi-Insensitive Person–someone who isn’t bothered by the world at large, but has moments of human vulnerability, which probably annoy you.

16-24: SSP. While it may sound like you are a member of an elite foreign law enforcement squad, you are really a Semi-Sensitive Person. You are someone who is definitely affected by the world, but is able to manage fairly well in the midst of the chaos.

25-30: HSP. Just as the world needs warriors, it needs shut-ins like us to watch from a safe distance and gently alert the public to the dangers we see…if we’re not too overwhelmed.

NOTE: I’m reading a book by Elaine Aron, The Highly Sensitive Person: How to thrive when the world overwhelms you. I made up most of this, but got the idea from her book.