I like things to be “just so.”

Before I go to bed at night, I smooth out the sofa throw and plump the pillows.

I generally chose to wash the dishes soon after a meal, rather than leaving them in the sink.

There is a sort of filing system in my sock drawer.

At the end of the work day, I prefer to tidy my desk, put away the books I’ve used, and roll the chair into the knee-hole.

I believe that I pack the best-organized suitcase out there.

Disorder, as I perceive it, ennervates me. I am currently reading Elaine Aron’s book The Highly Sensitive Person, and it’s shed a lot of light on why I live the way I do.  Why I want to pass a law that everyone should remove hard-soled shoes after 8 pm. (And be sent to remedial walking classes when they clomp around even in their sock-feet.) Why loud noises really make me jump. Why the smell of the neighbors’ lunch lingering in the hall makes me feel a bit unwell. Why I notice so much in general.

A brief clarification: the highly-sensitive person we’re talking about here is neurologically sensitive. That means that HSPs, who make up about 15-20% of the population, perceive and process more sensory data than others; the modern world can overwhelm us very quickly, indeed. As a result, many HSPs tend to be introverted, or “too in” in Dr. Aron’s terminology. Those of us who are extroverted (I am firmly in this group), can go through stretches when we are “too out,” followed by a spectacular crash-and-burn. Finding the balance between the two poles is a challenge. It entails knowing when to push ourselves just a bit, and when to retreat, rest, and recover. Attending to our physical sensations is crucial, and making clear requests of those around us who don’t share our intensified perceptions is a huge help.

So, too, is arranging our environment in ways that calm and support us. With pale slipcovers, and soft carpets, and organized sock drawers.