I have a lot of feelings.
So much so, that I sometimes wonder if I have a normal amount of feelings or if I’ve actually become what I always tried to be in middle school … emo.
Ever since I can remember, I have been the type of person who wears my heart on my sleeve. If I’m upset, you can pretty much guarantee that everyone within a 17 mile radius of me damn well knows it. I’ve never been good at hiding my emotions, and quite frankly, I’ve given up trying to master it.
I had a revelation once when I was 16. It had been about eight months since my very dear friend Emily had passed away. I was sitting in history class and noticed two girls in class passing notes back and forth to each other. I remember feeling my pulse quicken and the familiar lump in my throat appear. I felt tears well up in my eyes and knew I was about to lose it. I lost it quite often during that year, but this time, I didn’t try to hide it. I let it all come out. I didn’t run to the bathroom and hide in a stall. Instead I gathered my things, not so quietly, and headed to the counselor’s office. Once I got there, they asked me if I was OK. And for once, I didn’t say yes. I told the counselor that I wasn’t doing so well. I told her, through sobs, that I didn’t know how to cope without Emily. And I told her that if I was being honest, I wasn’t sure I would ever know how to. I told her exactly how I was feeling because I was so drained at the prospect of pretending to be OK. I was tired of lying in order to make myself seem stronger, better, somehow more sane.
I poured my heart out and watched as her eyes quickly turned from concern to dismay. I knew I sounded a little bit dramatic. But I also knew the relief I felt after finally being honest for what seemed like the first time in months. It was such a freeing thing — to say exactly how I felt without worrying what message I was sending to those around me.
A couple of days after my big reveal, my “friend” decided to inform me just what people had to say about it.
“She’s not handling this well at all.”
“It’s been months, she needs to move on and let it go.”
“I’m legitimately worried about her.”
“She just wants attention.”
Who cares what people think, right? Except that we all care what people think, if only just a little bit. These people were completely irrelevant and had the emotional range of teaspoons but that didn’t prevent me from feeling ashamed of my emotions. It certainly wouldn’t be the first nor the last time I would feel ashamed for being open and honest.
This has been on my mind so much lately since I entered my twenties and began the hell that we refer to as dating. The thing is, no one really knows how we’re supposed to act on dates but we sure as hell know how we’re not supposed to act.
- Don’t say too much, but don’t say too little.
- Don’t talk about your exes, but make sure you aren’t emotionally scarred at all.
- Don’t pretend to care, but make sure they know you care.
- Don’t text them first, but always text them back.
- Don’t act like anything bothers you, but be able to stand up for yourself.
- Don’t try to label anything or be too clingy, but also don’t be a whore!
- Don’t talk about your emotions, but don’t let the uncertainty drive you crazy.
- And definitely do not lose your cool, but don’t put up with their shit either.
These unspoken rules aren’t news to anyone. We’ve all experienced this pressure at one point or another, and unfortunately most of us have tried to abide.
It didn’t take me long to earn my label as a crazy girl. They said I wanted too much, too soon. After all, I wanted to know where we stood after several dates. I wanted to know if they saw a future for us. And, worst of all, I wanted to tell them how I felt. I was tired of pretending. But they weren’t.
I see it happen all the time, and I’ve experienced it more times than I can count. We’re supposed to be these superhuman beings that can ignore our emotions and play it cool no matter the situation.
We’re supposed to be OK with the fact that they don’t respond to our text messages or cancel our plans. We’re supposed to brush it off when they downplay our feelings or chalk it up to a mood swing. We’re supposed to be chill about the fact that they claim to be afraid of commitment yet have several tattoos. And we’re supposed to be in a good mood every single time they see us. It’s fucking exhausting.
I grew tired of trying to figure out how I was supposed to be acting, and just acted the way I wanted to. I think we all get tired of it, eventually. And just like that, we are left feeling disappointed and confused when we realize that being ourselves isn’t at all what they wanted. They wanted something that doesn’t exist.
See, we as humans, we have a lot of damn emotions. We do. And pretending that we don’t is a disservice to ourselves. Being human, having these emotions… it’s what makes us unique. Our feelings, our emotions, our thoughts… they are never something to be ashamed of. They are to be celebrated. And the sooner we all realize that, the better off we will be.
Living a lie is no way to live. I still have to remind myself of that sometimes.
People can call me crazy, they can call me clingy, and they can say I’m too much. But they can never say that I didn’t care. They can never say that I wasn’t true to myself. And they can never say that I wasn’t honest.
If being crazy means being myself then I’ll choose it over and over again.
We are who we choose to be, and I choose to be me.