That shouldn’t be so difficult, right?
I overheard her on the phone saying to a friend, “You’re so lucky that your mom likes to shop. My mom HATES the mall.”
It’s true. Malls, like carnivals and amusement parks, give me anxiety. They always have. When I was my daughter’s age (11), adults and peers thought there was something seriously wrong with me because I relaxed under a tree at Kings Island amusement park in Mason, Ohio while my sisters and friends headed to The Beast, the tallest, fastest, and longest wooden rollercoaster in the world in 1979 when it was built.
I was managing my anxiety just fine at the mall until we hit the main drag when the kiosk people come at you like spider monkeys with their hair straighteners and phone cases and perfumes.
“Ma’am, here you go,” one says spraying a potent perfume in your face.
“Ma’am, take this!” other one says, right as you dodge the two in back of you.
By the time I got to Forever 21, I was having heart palpitations, my breath was shallow, and I was sweating all over.
My daughter rolls her eyes. Here we go again.
I am a highly sensitive person (HSP) as defined by Elaine Aron, Ph.D. in her bestseller The Highly Sensitive Person. I am among the 15 to 20 percent of the population that is easily overwhelmed by loud noises, crowds, smells, bright lights, and other stimulation. There is a lot going on inside my noggin at any given moment—HSPs have rich interior lives. I feel things very deeply and tend to absorb people’s emotions. I have a low tolerance for stress and don’t like to be rushed by deadlines. I am also aware of subtleties in many different situations that others miss.