Ever since I was a child, I can recall crying at parades. My first memory of this goes back to somewhere between 7 or 8 years old. I recall standing along the curbside a few blocks from my house anticipating how much candy might be thrown my way at an annual town celebration parade.
On one particular day in the month of June, I recall it being early in the morning, maybe around 9am, the sun just to the right of me, I stood waiting for the parade to start. My parents and sister were near me, along with many familiar faces as the town I grew up in was a small, Midwestern town.
The beginning of the parade. like most parades, was marked with a police car and a fire truck. I recall the firetruck at the beginning of the parade, starting its siren to announce the start of the parade. A jolt of excitement ran through my body as the siren blew. Then I experienced a cycle of me smiling, eyes welling up with tears, happiness overcoming me, a sense of pride, and then…the cycle would start all over again when service men and woman would march by, or the Shriners would zip their small cars around the street, or a marching band would stop in its tracks and play a song for spectators.
I was never scared at parades, and it wasn’t the loud noises bringing tears to my eyes. The tears weren’t that of being frightened or even sad. I recall having the knowledge that the tears that I had in my eyes were that of “happy tears” to the best of my description at that age.
It wasn’t until a few years ago I put the pieces together and realized that there was a reason for the tears at parades. (I still find tears coming to my eyes at parades even now in adulthood.) I have learned that I am an Empath and a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP). Yes, that is a real term, a Highly Sensitive Person.
Empaths can “feel” and pick up on the emotions of people around them, and people who are “Highly Sensitive” are more aware of and affected by external stimuli than non-HSPs. They are often empaths and internalize everything more deeply — from social interactions to emotions to physical and visual sensations.
You can learn more about traits of an Empath here: https://themindunleashed.com/2013/10/30-traits-of-empath.html
You can learn more about HSP traits here: https://www.ourheritageofhealth.com/are-you-a-highly-sensitive-person-10-signs-you-might-have-this-inherited-trait/
Wrap all of this together and at places like parades, I am soaking up the excitement and energy from the music, the crowd around me as well as the swirl of emotions that is taking place when service men and woman and first responders walk by or an honored community member who was picked to be the grand marshal.
In recent years I have learned different techniques to shield or protect myself from the energies around me. I will say that I have NOT YET perfected protecting myself fully at large, energetic events like parades, but I am doing better.
To this day, I still cry at parades (as well as at theater play performances, or when the Anthem is sung in front of a large crowd, at Superbowl half time performances, and even during large firework displays.) I find the energy to be overwhelming, but in a good way.