I used to make up different scenarios in my head. I spun stories so fast and intricately that they would carry on for weeks; they were tales of how I thought things should be, all of them neatly wrapped together, loose ends tied. The words would come out right, and the reactions matched my expectations. I would wake up in a state of bliss, not a drop of sadness in my blood but happiness in every cell that pumped through my heart. I wouldn’t know of loss or regret. I would never know how the pain felt or the overwhelming pressure of stress. But as I grew up I realized how necessary those emotions are. They are what shape you as an adult and build you as a person.
Inside my head and spilling into my heart, I get caught up in things and let them consume me, engulfing my whole being. I’m told I over-analyze and overthink. I want to see things from every side, every angle. I take things personally, and I’m okay with that.
My emotions lie just barely beneath the surface of my skin, so close that they’re often more visible than I know them to be. They will be the first thing you notice because even if I ever tried to hide them, they would come spilling out — nervous laugh, heart on sleeve, tears in eyes, voice raised.
We somehow always spend a lot of time trying to define our emotions. Finding the right words to express how we feel, or how we don’t. We teach children to recognize their feelings, how to correctly identify them and thereby cope or respond to them. Yet people still continue to try and regulate other’s emotions and tell them how to feel. “Don’t cry,” “Don’t be upset” or “You have no reason to be mad,” “You’re too sensitive,” “Calm down, it’s not a big deal.”
You have every right to feel however it is that you feel.
They can come in bursts and fits, sometimes changing on a whim, but you are allowed to feel it all to whatever extent, in whatever capacity. You have every right to feel the whole spectrum of emotions, one by one or all at once — do not let anyone tell you otherwise. You do not have to defend your feelings or rationalize them to anyone. Emotions are an authentic expression of who we are and how we feel. You are allowed to be angry, you are allowed to be upset. Whether or not this suffering is more or less than someone else’s, it is no one’s place to say. Emotions are not quantifiable, experiences are relative. So cry if you need to and leave if you have to.
If someone has the courage to express their feelings in front of you, to make themselves openly vulnerable in your presence, you do not have the authority to dismiss them. You have to let people feel whatever they’re going to feel. Otherwise, you deny them of their right to their own experience. Their reality is not invalid because it does not make sense to you or affect you in the same way. It isn’t about what someone is going through, it’s the fact that they’re going through it. No one can dictate the feelings you have or do not have.
My transparency makes me appear vulnerable, and I find myself reflexively apologizing for my outbursts, my tears, for feeling something you might not register the same way. However, your views are not invalid because you’re crying, so express how you feel and say what you think. Being sensitive is not a fault, being empathetic is a skill.
Our experiences grant us perspective, and our emotions are there to help guide us along the way. It’s about being aware of your own emotions and the emotions around you. It is about understanding the feelings of others and experiencing them as if you were experiencing it yourself. You care — do not apologize for feeling or expressing yourself because it is a gift. You have the ability to diffuse barriers because you’re willing to let down your own. Do not let the world make you hard, it is a gift to feel everything so intensely, to be able to empathize and invest yourself wholeheartedly into everything.
Featured image via WeHeartIt