Do strangers sit next to you on the bus and share their secrets? Does art make you cry? Do you feel other people’s feelings? On the other hand, are you prone to being overwhelmed by crowds, bright lights or strong perfume? Bad news – or maybe good. You could be an HSP, a Highly Sensitive Person. The emerging category affects between 15 and 30% of the population, which has some researchers calling it “the missing personality type”.
When I encountered the concept on an Instagram post, I felt both irritated and seen. The checklist was a mirror. I am paralysed by overthinking! Beset by self-doubt! A feelings magnet! Sometimes absurdly so: I once found a chewed-up corn cob on the street, took it home and drew a smile on it. Corny sat on my desk for years and whenever I looked at his brave little face – the face I had drawn – I was moved to tears. When I broke up with my girlfriend, we both cried buckets over custody. I’m thinking she was one, too.