My mother is a dear, sweet, sensitive soul. She is always looking out for others sensitivity – partly from her own experience, and partly because she sincerely does not want to offend or hurt anyone. When I was younger, I often felt like she was over-sensitive, stifling potential fun we could have had in an effort to be painfully considerate of those around us.
I, her daughter, am not a sensitive soul. Growing up, I did things the way I wanted to do them because I thought that was right. I was not sensitive, and I had very little patience for others’ sensitivities. I viewed the virtue of sensitivity as a weakness that hindered moving forward in life.
You can imagine my surprise, then, when a few years ago I started saying things like, “Wait – shouldn’t we consider how this might affect so-and-so?” and “Hold on – how do you think [insert name here] will respond to this decision?” In response, sometimes people would actually stop and think about their plans and how they might affect others. Sometimes, my friends would look at me quizzically and quickly move on. The worst is when people would say, “Don’t you think you’re being a little too sensitive?” I started to realize, much to my chagrin, that I was, in this particular way, becoming my mother. And (even worse) that my friends were treating me the same way I was treating my mother.
What I didn’t realize back then was that my mother was cultivating in me a sensitivity to others’ sensitivities. She was teaching me to be considerate of others and thoughtful towards their needs. In the timeless words of Atticus Finch, she was teaching me that “you never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view – […] until you climb into his skin and walk around in it” (To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee). She challenged my inconsiderate and selfish views time and again.
As I have reflected on this over the past year, I have become increasingly thankful for my mother’s influence. I am thankful that she both put up with my insensitivity and taught me something that was so foreign to my nature. Without her, I would not have the same kind of appreciation for other people’s feelings. My world has grown from my one small perspective to include perspectives of all the people around me. I’m learning life in the real world.
I still do not consider myself a sensitive person, but I am slowly moving towards becoming a sensitivity-conscious individual. I feel blessed by my mother and her training – I am thankful she is a part of my life.
I wrote this post in response to this week’s Daily Press writing challenge. Although I usually don’t prefer a jump-start to my “creative process,” this prompt hit me like a ton of bricks and I couldn’t let it go.