I’m a woman of extremes. I’ll be doing spastic, interpretive dancing on a friend’s carpet floor one night and in the fetal position on the couch watching Scully deal with Mulder’s crap again the next. I’ll be finding joy in a fresh bouquet of lilies one second and lying on a pile of dirty laundry, deeply questioning my existence, the next. I wish I could just keep all the extreme positive feelings and ditch the extreme negative ones but it doesn’t work that way. I just feel so much. I’m the epitome of a drama queen, really. All the time. It can be a lot.
When I’m hurt, disappointed and/or deceived (that’s a really yucky one!) – even by seemingly small things – it takes me weeks to recover. And even when I think I’m done recovering I’ll wake up at 4 am and barf all of these emotions back up again like “LMAO! You thought you were done with that!?” Nope. Not yet.
I also fall hard. Not only for relationships, but for friendships too. Sometimes I fall for strange pop culture obsessions that lead me down various Wikipedia wormholes for hours on end. And when it stops, picking myself up again is a long, non-linear, tedious process.
My extreme feelings are a quality that’s not always understood by others. To continue my last post’s theme of hiding, I mostly hide it well. As a certified people pleaser, I realize that not everybody’s into it. I’ve become very good at sucking it up. I have my strategies for pulling myself together. This isn’t about that.
In efforts to restrain myself something gets lost too: the authenticity. I lose my shiny pearl of truth. I once got the feedback after taking an improv class that it seemed like I was holding back. I hated that. It made me remember when I worked as a day camp counselor and I would see some of of the rowdier kids after they’d taken their ADHD medication and they just seemed like shells. There’s always something hidden in the hiding.
I’m trying to quit the hiding, but it’s a challenge. Yeah, I may have “Your feelings make you beautiful!!” interpreted in hundreds of visually pleasing ways on my “~~Inspired~~” Pinterest board. Yeah, I’ve read many a feminist manifesto about how society devalues characteristics that have been categorized as “feminine.” Whether or not I truly believe the value of my own emotions, however, is still unclear to me. I want to believe, though. Just like you, Mulder. I really want to believe.
It’s always challenging to believe in something that’s still not totally accepted by so many. We’re still, as a society, pretty terrified of feelings.
Though I take one from time to time, mental health days are still taboo and even I worry whether or not taking a day for my brain is a legitimate enough reason to skip work. But what’s the difference between lying in bed with Kleenex elegantly shoved up each nostril and lying in bed because the tears just won’t quit? What’s the difference between a hacking cough that clears a subway car and a spontaneous, nausea-inducing fear of people that prevents you from ever getting on the subway car in the first place? I see no difference.
What many also fail to see is the connection between feelings and art. And we all consume art is some way, shape or form (even you, trashcan Trump!). I’m finally making the connection that it was the depth of these feelings that allowed so many of my icons to connect to people in such powerful ways. But it was also the culmination of these feelings that almost killed them. And sometimes the feelings did kill them.
I can’t help but be curious about whether or not it would have been different if these artists lived in a world where emotions were considered just as valuable as intellect. I don’t want to pretend to understand their experiences, but what would have happened if they lived in a world where they were free to feel more publicly, outside the realm of their art? If they could feel more frequently, would it have had such a fatal impact when it all came to a head?
We want people to feel on stage, in our headphones, in art galleries, on screen and on paper. However, the minute we burst into tears in our cubicle! on the bus! at a Tim Hortons while ordering a honey crueler! – even if it’s just one of those quick and dirty cries – I’m very talented at those – it’s suddenly embarrassing, awkward, weak. It freaks people out. If we stopped being so freaked out by feelings outside of the realm of art and actually let ourselves feel them, wouldn’t we all be a lot healthier?
I realize I’m rambling on this one. I blame all the feelings it’s bringing up! I’ll wrap it up with this:
I had to pick a word for 2017 with my life coach. If this seems cheesy and self help-y to you that’s because it is and I really, really love that shit!!!!!! Because I’m
indecisive a rule-breaker I put two words together to make “curagosity” i.e., courage + curiosity. If I were to apply my made up word to my full range of feelings it would be about having courage to feel things when I need to feel them – however big or messy or loud that may be – and the curiosity to find out how this could change things for me and the people around me. This behaviour may not be accepted in the world we live in now but I also think it’s up to us to create the world we want to live in. Right!!?
With “curagosity” in mind, I’m committed to having the courage to cry when I want to (especially in public!). I’ll be curious about how it would feel to get so excited it scares people. I’ll have the courage to “take my broken heart and turn it into art” (Thanks, Meryl!). I’ll have the courage to pick up my guitar and write sappy, Taylor Swift-esque songs about everything from being hungry to loneliness to how to deal with trashcan Trump in the three chords I’m really good at. I’ll be curious about what would happen if I stopped being so embarrassed about my extreme emotions. I’ll be curious about what would happen if I just accepted them as essential to who I am. I’ll have the courage to just accept who I am.
And I’ll have the courage to let you know how it all goes!
Curagosity for the win!