My Label and Me: Snowflake

I’ve been labelled too sensitive since I was first able to talk.

It didn’t matter to the adults I knew that children don’t have fully formed frontal lobes (the rational bit of the brain), I was still ordered ‘don’t cry!’ or ‘don’t be a baby!’

It seemed certain emotions made some people uncomfortable and showing them meant being shamed, dismissed or branded ‘too much.’

Feelings made me a liability as an adult too, I discovered.

‘Don’t let them know they’ve hurt you,’ people would suggest. When my eyes looked dangerously watery at work I was counselled, ‘Never cry in a newsroom.’

I’m talented, I’m strong, I’m courageous, but I also feel deeply, and for some people that makes me a melodramatic, high maintenance, wet blanket.

Felicity is proud to be called a snowflake (Picture: Susannah Ireland/

Alongside these terms, there’s now a relatively new label that’s thrown around to patronise people who express their feelings: ‘snowflake.’

It’s a derogatory term used to silence anyone who is supposedly not resilient enough, easily offended, or foolishly thinks they are special.

Alongside this insult I’ve been told on social media that I’m ‘emotionally vulnerable,’ a ‘lefty’ (I’m pretty centrist), a member of the ‘useless generation,’ a millennial (that’s true), that I think I’m the centre of the universe and that I’m trying to push my emotions on other people or control them with my feelings.

Faced with this criticism in the past, I might have retreated into myself thinking I was wrong, broken or too fragile. But now I know being sensitive and allowing yourself to feel and express those feelings is one of the bravest things you can do.

I used to barely feel anything. Around six years ago, faced with a few traumatic experiences that hot footed themselves one after another, I shut down my emotions.

I lived a numb life, where the closest I got to intimacy was an interesting power play and relationships felt like a game of chess.

She believes that people who call others snowflakes are actually sensitive themselves (Picture: Susannah Ireland/

In the end I got myself a therapist, and began a long path of unravelling where I’d closed the shutters round my heart.

I’ve worked hard to be in touch with my emotions; to move through the most painful and uncomfortable of sensations – grief, anger, hurt, jealousy – and been rewarded with an increased capacity for their opposites – joy, love, trust, intimacy.

So I’m happy to be called a snowflake because I know it means I’m doing something right.

Labelling someone in this way is a bit irrational though. Of course people are provoked by headlines, most headlines are designed to emotionally provoke.

Some pundits go out to offend then act surprised when people are offended. Said people are then called snowflakes.

The thing about people who are offended by snowflakes is that in labelling others as emotional or out of control, they also out themselves as struggling in the same way.

In fact they are such sensitive people, that not only do they have difficulty permitting their own feelings, but other people’s too.

Being a snowflake helps Felicity empathise with others (Picture: Susannah Ireland/

Some say being emotional is unprofessional – that there’s no space in the workplace for ‘special snowflakes’.

In some jobs or situations that might be true but, in my experience, emotions don’t respect a 9-5 working schedule.

Sure you can repress them, shove them down and wait until the end of the day, by which time you’re chock full and overwhelmed, ready to snap at anyone close by, or needing to numb your feelings in whatever unhealthy way possible (think food, drink, drugs).

Maybe you have to hide alone, isolate yourself until the storm passes, even call in sick so you don’t ‘shame’ yourself by being emotional in front of your colleagues.

However, we can’t learn how to process and share our emotions usefully unless we allow them.

That might look messy at first, but in my opinion it’s preferable to us all living in robotic denial of our emotional vulnerability during the working week and taking it out on our kids or partners when we get home.

There are brilliant things about being a snowflake. I can feel other people’s moods, even if they don’t obviously display them, which helps me understand, empathise and find a way to connect with people, whether they are high or low.

I pick up when something is off or when someone is lying, and I know I can trust myself – I’ve worked with my own feelings enough to rely on them as my own special spidey sense.

The best thing about owning this label though, is that I’ve given myself full permission to be human.

And because of that, I can let others be human too – sometimes resentful, sometimes joyful, sometimes making mistakes and sometimes labelling others through their own fear.

And if that’s where they are right now, I can meet them there with love, because I’ve been there too.

Felicity is the author of Give a F**k: A brief inventory of ways in which you can 


Labels is an exclusive series that hears from individuals who have been labelled – whether that be by society, a job title, or a diagnosis. Throughout the project, writers will share how having these words ascribed to them shaped their identity  positively or negatively  and what the label means to them.

If you would like to get involved please email

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