Annet’s Story

Growing up in the Netherlands was a journey filled with both moments of joy and challenges. Throughout my formative years, my mother was an unwavering source of support. In those early years, I grappled with a pervasive feeling of being different from my peers, a sensation that proved difficult to comprehend. Living in a small town where conformity was the norm only added complexity to my personal odyssey. Before my tenth birthday, I was a vibrant and cheerful girl, but as I grew older and began to sense my outsider status more keenly, I gradually withdrew, becoming increasingly reserved, all without truly understanding why.

During my teenage years, I faced some really tough challenges, especially when it came to dealing with constant bullying and rejection from my peers. It felt like no matter how much effort I put into trying to belong, I was always met with resistance, and this made me feel incredibly alone, pushing me to withdraw into myself. With my father often absent from my life, my older brother became my safe haven. I deeply admired his kindness and resilience, so when he decided to follow his own path, it had a significant impact on my relationship with my mother.

As I transitioned into womanhood, combined with the inexplicable emotions brewing within me, a new dynamic developed between my mother and me. In an attempt to navigate this tension, I started testing boundaries and seeking my own independence. However, my quest proved far too challenging for my mother to manage.

Reflecting on my past, several years down the line, I can now see that my choices at the age of 15 could have been wiser, but my intense desire for independence and adventure overpowered my judgment. It eventually became evident to both myself and those around me that I needed to leave our home. In the beginning, I sought refuge with friends, not fully grasping the implications of my impulsive decision. However, this arrangement proved to be temporary, and in time, I had to set out on my own path.

In my pursuit of the freedom I had longed for, I began to experience the rich tapestry of life’s diversities and adversities. I took on various jobs to sustain myself while simultaneously savoring a different rhythm of life. Frequently, I stayed out until the early hours, immersing myself in the elusiveness of humanity. Though I didn’t realize it at the time, I was absorbing valuable life lessons about human behavior.

My unexplained love for travel was hampered by financial limitations. However, driven by a sense of adventure, I let my intuition guide me. Hitchhiking solo across Europe in those days was undoubtedly risky, especially as a young girl, something I might hesitate to do today. Nevertheless, it brought forth a plethora of new, mind-opening experiences, and personal growth started to make sense to me. In my early twenties, while browsing in a bookstore, I stumbled upon a life-altering book by Elaine Aron. It delved into the concept of High Sensitivity, and something about it deeply resonated with me. Without hesitation, I purchased the book. As I delved into its pages, I found myself reflected in its descriptions, and a revelation washed over me. For the first time in my life, I could put a name not only to what had made me feel different my entire life but also to who I truly was.

My journey, however, was far from over; in fact, it had only just begun. With this newfound understanding, my life became a balancing act between two extremes. There was the life I had been living, often exhausting and chaotic, necessitating copious amounts of downtime for me to recharge, and there was the emergence of my authentic self, encapsulated in the trait known as HSP. Wrestling with a sense of not fully belonging in one life while not entirely knowing the other left me in a state of uncertainty.

It was this uncertainty that led me to make a pivotal decision at the age of 23: I entered into a marriage with someone who, like me, thought outside the box. Initially, it felt like a perfect match, but our paths soon diverged, leading to a swift divorce. Returning to the one constant I had held onto throughout my life, my thirst for personal growth and learning, I delved into self-help books and attended numerous courses in pursuit of a deeper understanding of life.

At the age of 27, I resolved to start anew, determined to build a more stable life. While I had previously experimented with various educational pursuits, jobs, and relationships that I would often abandon midway due to my relentless quest for fulfilment, my focus now shifted to understanding myself.

At 30, I met someone who offered an adventurous life filled with travel, and I believed I had finally found the ideal partner. We married, embarked on numerous journeys, lived in different countries due to his job, and welcomed two beautiful daughters into our lives.

During our stay in the United States, I immersed myself further into understanding the High Sensitivity trait. I actively participated in gatherings and sought guidance from mentors, like Jacquelyn Strickland. One incredibly fortunate experience was the opportunity to meet someone I deeply admired in person: Elaine Aron herself, who later became, and still is, my mentor. On this personal journey, I also uncovered another facet of myself—the trait of High Sensation Seeking (HSS), which shed light on my restlessness and yearning for adventure. I wholeheartedly committed myself to achieving my life coach certification, and this marked a significant phase in my self-awareness, confidence, and overall well-being.

This marked the beginning of an ongoing journey to delve even deeper into personal growth, not just for myself but to assist others in discovering their own potential. As a life coach for over a decade now, I have found my calling in helping others unearth their true selves, embracing their HSP and HSS traits, and equipping them with the tools to enhance their quality of life.

I initiated a podcast to share the wisdom I have gained with those who, like me as a young girl, need it the most. By offering my life coaching services to both businesses and individuals, I discovered the fulfilment I had yearned for all those years ago. It was during a volunteer life coaching event in Barcelona, Spain, that my life took yet another turn.

During that transformative four-month period of self-reflection, I found myself volunteering at the remarkable NGO center, enriquezArte. It was during this time that I began to perceive life from a new and profound perspective. My marriage had evolved into something vastly different from its joyful beginnings, and it had come to an end. As someone who frequently assists others in navigating challenging decisions, I realized it was essential to apply the very tools and skills I had shared with them to my own life. My heartfelt desire was to continue my journey in assisting others in achieving their personal growth goals. As fate would have it, I came across someone whom I believed could contribute significantly to my mission. So, I reached out and extended an invitation for him to join me on my podcast, “Sensitive and Strong.”

That’s where I met Randy, a High Sensing, High Sensation Seeking individual. Randy’s life experiences and insights resonated deeply with my own aspirations. It didn’t take long for us to decide to combine our knowledge, experiences, and commitment in a collaborative effort to develop the High Responsive Training Program. Our partnership has evolved into a powerful synergy, enabling us to achieve far more together than we ever could have on our own.