As I continued to learn more about being an HSP, and what that meant in the greater scheme of things, I also started to get increasingly interested in getting to know other people from this new "fellowship" I had discovered. I suppose it's what people do: We find some new insight into ourselves, and then we want to meet others who have had a similar experience.
At first, I started looking at the people around me, looking for signs that someone in my immediate "circle" might also be an HSP. But my enthusiasm was limited-- after all, what do you tell them? And what happens when they look at you like you've suddenly grown two heads? And what happens-- as often is the case with HS Men-- when somebody is an HSP, but doesn't "want" to be one?
Instead I went off into cyberspace and-- with a little help from google-- found other HSPs on the Internet. At first it felt a little silly-- even though I was already familiar enough with web communites. Let's face it, everybody thinks they are "sensitive," in one way or another. At least, that's what my girlfriend had told me when I talked about HSP-ness, and it did seem to make some sense. So I was a bit nervous. But I soon learned that my hesitance was unwarranted. And before I knew it, I had become a member of a discussion group for HSPs on "e-groups" (now YahooGroups) where my appearance was welcomed with warmth and understanding.
Peer Counseling. Connecting with other HSPs online not only serves as a way to make contact with others who have had similar experiences and challenges in life, but it also serves as a very valuable and rewarding form of "peer counseling." Because online HSP "Communities" often number several hundred members, you are often able to find others who have not only had almost identical experiences to your own, but people who are further along in their growth process and thus able to offer some very valuable suggestions-- as well as encouragement. In addition, there are many regional and local groups.
Although I continue to be active in several HSP Communities on the web, the next logical step for me was to meet some of my newfound "virtual friends" in "real life." Of course, some people are rather suspicious of the idea of meeting "someone from the Internet," and I certainly recommend that you exercise common sense and good judgment. I did meet a couple of people on a one-to-one basis, but whereas the meetings were fun, we lived far apart. Still, it was a wonderful experience to have an "instant understanding" with another person. However, if you don't feel up to meeting someone individually, I highly recommend that you attend one of the official "HSP Gatherings," organized by HSP Counselor and Coach Jacquelyn Strickland. I first went to the 2003 HSP Gathering in California, and it was such a wonderful and life-changing experience that I created a new section on the web site, completely dedicated to sharing feelings and impressions from this Gathering. Subsequently, I have been to many more HSP Gatherings, and have added more new "Gathering pages" to the site.
The idea of going to a "Group Event" may sound scary and overwhelming to most HSPs, but I can almost guarantee that you will not feel "out of place," and you will come away from the experience feeling both validated and empowered.