Being highly sensitive in the big city is its own special kind of hell.
I was born and raised in Stockholm, the capital city of Sweden. Probably not a big city by international standards, but nevertheless a big, noisy and crowded city.
For years, I have been miserable without really doing anything about it. I guess I got used to it:
Never feeling like going out and doing stuff.
Turning down freelance assignments because they would have required too many meetings.
Wanting to see my friends and visit my family, but refusing to go on the packed subway to get there.
Some days even dreading having to go to the grocery store.
I’ve told myself “I’m good. I don’t need that much social interaction anyway. I’m an indoor person”.
But deep down, I have known this wasn’t right. It comes to a point where it’s no longer about preferences, but an actual handicap.
I felt disabled in the big city. Like I was suffocating. There where too many people rushing around, standing too close to me, talking to loudly, running into me, honking at me for not walking across a road fast enough. I always felt in the way. I always felt irritated.
After a day of meetings I would come home and collapse on the floor, sobbing. At times, I would even need to self-medicate with junk food or alcohol to numb myself.
I knew I could never be happy there. I couldn’t see myself having kids, being one of those moms struggling to squeeze their stroller into a packed bus.
And so I did something about it. I moved to a small town. And the difference is night and day.
During the month since I moved here, I have surprised myself in several ways:
- I have met new people, and enjoyed it.
- I have taken relaxing strolls in the parks
- We have invited friends over on a moment’s notice, or gone out to spontaneously hang out with them.
- I have taken frequent breaks during the day to scout around, window shop or visit the library.
It feels amazing. I guess I'm much more social than I gave myself credit for.
Life in a small town is so much more easygoing. People are more relaxed. The streets and cafés are less crowded. Time seems to move at a slower pace.
Just knowing that I can walk everywhere, and that I can be home in just a few minutes if I want to, makes all the difference. Being social and doing stuff outside of the comfort of my home doesn't feel like a project.
I should have done this years ago.
And I seriously urge my fellow sensitive souls who feel trapped, overwhelmed and miserable in the big city: Reconsider.
Yes, there are more opportunities in bigger cities. There is more to do, see, try, buy. You might have you entire family and circle of friends there, as I have.
But how are you feeling? When you go outside, when you get around? How many of these opportunities are you making use of? And are you maybe shying away from social activities because leaving your home just exhausts you?
Then what use is it?
I miss living close to my family and friends. But I don't live very far away from them now either. The energy I conserve by living in a smaller town, I can spend on traveling to see them every once in a while. Maybe even more often than I used to before.
And there are opportunities in smaller towns as well. Not just for work and play, but for living a life without rush hour, loud noises, crowded streets, over-consumption and stress.
There is opportunity for peace of mind.