big city hspSome might be surprised to hear that I like spending time in big cities. I used to live just outside of New York City for around 5 years, and I loved spending time there. On a recent vacation, I enjoyed exploring Tokyo and Seoul for several days.

As an HSP, you’d think that visiting a big city would be overwhelming. And in some ways, yes, it is. But I also love big cities because you can get lost in a crowd.

Getting lost in a crowd means this:

  • There’s often no small talk–people are busy and direct. (well, in NYC anyway.)
  • I don’t have to worry about how I look (am I dressed well enough, do I fit in, etc.)
  • No one will remember me.

(Notice that I’m talking about visiting a large city; not living in one. That’s different.)

There are so many people rushing to get around, to hustle to the subway, eat lunch, or get to work, that I am inconsequential. I don’t have to worry or ponder my existence because the others in the crowd aren’t paying me any attention; they are focused on themselves. They don’t care about me, and that takes the pressure off.

If I’m not dressed stylishly enough? Who cares! There are plenty of other tourists around anyway. If I’m not sure which way I should be walking, no one notices when I look awkward and confused. And if I ask someone a question, I don’t have to feel self-conscious because they’ll forget about me a moment later.

There’s also a weird comfort about being in a place where I don’t understand the language at all. Let’s say I’m buying a bottle of water at a convenience store in Japan. The checkout person will likely say many words to me in Japanese, but all I have to do is stand there and smile and say “hello” and “thank you” in their language. They know that I’m a foreigner who doesn’t know the language. I hand them the bottle of water and money, act polite, and that’s all I have to do. I don’t have to answer questions or make small talk.

Don’t get me wrong—it would be wonderful to be able to communicate verbally with them. But I can’t. And after a while, since the spoken language means little to me (since I don’t understand it at all) it sort of fades into the background. I wouldn’t want to live like that forever, but it’s interesting for a visit, since it’s soooo different than the normal bombardment of talk, TV, and advertisements.

Of course, there are aspects of big cities that I don’t like. The lack of solitude and peacefulness can be challenging, and things like driving and parking can be very stressful.

Have you ever experienced the feeling of being lost in a crowd? How do you feel about big, busy cities?