College is commonly marked with new academic challenges, separation from old friends and family, and facing new people in new surroundings. Anyone can face a tough time in college, but when you are a highly sensitive person (HSP), things can get tougher.
As someone who is extremely observant of everything that surrounds you, you can find college to be an endless source of overstimulation. Navigating all those new, intense situations can easily leave you emotionally distraught and extremely stressed. That is if you don’t prepare for it.
Being aware of potential difficulties and challenges can help you battle overstimulation and truly enjoy college. Here are some difficulties that you might encounter as a college student.
1. Sharing a Dorm Room
Just the thought of spending each day of your college life with someone who’s currently a stranger can make an HSP extremely anxious.
Every feeling they will have, every gesture that shows irritation, every argument, or every loud activity (such as your roommate blasting music) can affect you.
Should you simply accept all the agonies that come with living with noisy roommates as an HSP? Of course, not! Your needs and emotions are important.
Do your best to create a roomy life that doesn’t leave you drained. Start with strictly stating in your roommate application what you don’t want in a roommate.
If you already have a roommate, explain to them what you are going through. In case they are consistently being ignorant about your needs, request a transition, and explain the problems you are encountering as an HSP.
2. Busy Schedule
Rushing from one class to another, from the dining hall to a study group, and so on will make your days filled with sensory activity. Such a fast-paced life can make anyone exhausted, let alone an HSP.
Be mindful of the activities and classes you choose. Don’t overwhelm yourself with a hectic schedule. If you feel like you’re losing track of all the requirements for your assignments, using Subjecto or a similar service might be just the thing you need to get organized.
In addition, try to make your dorm room your quiet place. Since the typical dorm room’s fluorescent lighting isn’t the most fortunate choice, put up some warm, twinkle lights. You can look for ideas online on how to decorate and organize your dorm for maximum relaxation.
Another useful practice that can help you with relaxation after a chaotic day is journaling. Writing can be very therapeutic. Maybe journaling will even help you find inspiration for pursuing writing professionally. In any case, journaling can be a great habit for HSPs.
Also, be open with your roommate about your alone time. Politely explain that you need some time for yourself to rewind and relax. You need to be respectful of your needs.
3. Not Getting Enough Sleep
The college experience is “famous” for lack of sleep. Are you even a college student if you get enough sleep regularly?
While some people can manage the whole 5-hours-of-sleep-each-day arrangement, this can completely wear out an HSP:
Because of the depth of processing, people who are highly sensitive can often need more sleep than others. Not having the opportunity to reset your worn-out senses can turn you into an easily irritated individual.
Despite your desire to achieve it all, you need to be aware that sacrificing sleep isn’t the solution. Pre-plan your study schedule so that you have enough time to prepare for exams and get enough sleep along the way.
4. Too Much Socializing
Parties, assemblies, clubs, hanging out with a bunch of people, or similar crowded environments present the essential aspect of college. While some may thrive due to all the fun activities, HSPs can be living their worst nightmare.
“Highly empathetic people that are HSPs can have a hard time saying no. Before you know it, you have agreed to attend parties and groups you don’t want to be a part of,” shared a psychologist and contributor writer at TrustMyPaper, Hannah Weiss, on how HSPs end up involuntary engaging in social events in college.
Rather than embracing the anxiety, stress, and that feeling of being the odd one out, adapt your social life to your feelings.
Accept that saying “no” is acceptable. You won’t destroy anyone’s world if you refuse to come to their party.
If you don’t want to eat in a crowded dining hall, avoid “peak time” by eating somewhat later or earlier.
Did you know that 15-20% of the population is highly sensitive? Now that you do know that, look for people with similar traits who won’t overwhelm you.
You can also inquire about clubs or organizations for HSPs in college. If there aren’t any, either join a club that would be aligned with your needs or start your own HSP club!
5. Extensive Decision Making
A clinical research psychologist and author who has studied high sensitivity personalities since 1990, Elaine Aron, lists decision-making as one of the side-effects of being an HSP.
“We notice even quite subtle aspects of our world and a vast array of the possible consequences of a choice. All of this goes into our consideration of what may be going to happen and what we should do,” shares Elaine about the decision-making mindset of HSPs. “All of this awareness of the details and possibilities can make it much more difficult than for non-HSPs.”
The number of decisions you need to make can rapidly grow once you start going to college.
To help you face this decision-making challenge, try to imbed the following thoughts in your mind:
- You can’t know or predict the outcome, no matter how hard you try.
- Don’t rush yourself to make a decision.
- Every choice you make is the right choice as you made it from a current standpoint.
- Think about how you’ll handle it if you make the wrong decision. Become aware that there is always a solution.
- Take into consideration both your needs and the needs of others.
- Make a list of pros and cons.
- Take other people’s advice with caution. People who aren’t highly sensitive might not be able to truly understand what you are going through.
While HSPs are often creative and highly intelligent individuals, the challenges that come with it can make your college life a bit harder. But you shouldn’t let that happen.
Your college experience can be just as amazing as anyone else’s. All you need to do is to consider your HSP personality and make some adjustments.
BIO: Nicole Garrison is a content strategist, writer, and contributor at several essay writing platforms for students such as Supreme Dissertations. She is a dedicated and experienced author who pays particular attention to quality research. Nicole consistently attends different courses, seminars, and conferences that keep her knowledge up to date. In her free time, Nicole is a passionate runner and traveler.