When did showing our emotions become such a negative thing? We are told by every mental health professional that it is healthy to share our emotions and be open and honest about things. We are told that burying our emotions can have terrible consequences on our mental and physical health. Yet, every day, we hide. We hide behind fake smiles and false declarations of happiness. We hide behind “I’m busy” and “maybe next time.” And when we do share something personal and emotional, we apologize for it. We apologize for feeling. Why?
For those of you who know me really well, you know that I struggle with anxiety. I have experienced anxiety attacks and the physical toll that it takes on your body. I have felt completely drained at 10:00am just because my brain decided to freak out over seemingly nothing. The weird thing to me is that, no matter how close I am with some people, I just can’t tell them what I’m going through.
I would consider myself to be a rather lucky person. I go to a great school, have a pretty great family, and some truly amazing friends. Yet, despite the fact that I have so many wonderful people in my life, I don’t talk about my feelings with many of them. It’s nothing against that person and it says nothing about our relationship, it’s just something that I don’t talk about with them. Maybe part of it is because I fear that doing so would scare them away. Maybe it’s because I like having someone who I only talk about good things with. Maybe I just want to keep them innocent. I don’t want people to worry about me. Especially friends and family that live far away. I don’t want anyone thinking that I’m over here in Nashville having a mental breakdown every five minutes and need to come home because that’s really the furthest thing from true. Or maybe, and hear me out on this because I think I’m on to something (wow, that doesn’t sound totally conceited at all), it’s because that is what society has conditioned me to do.
We hide because that’s what we have been conditioned to do. Our society seems to have this thing for wearing masks. People ask how you’re doing and typically expect you to say that you’re doing great and move on with your day. Rarely do people expect a more emotional or personal response. Maybe you’re not doing so hot, but no one wants to know about that according to societal norms, so we say “I’m good” or “it’s goin’.” My personal favorite is when someone asks me how life is and I say “it’s lifey” because, not only is it fun to say, but it’s hard to decipher whether you mean it to sound negative or positive.
When I sit down and truly think about things, I don’t really get it. Why is it so hard for me to sit down and talk to my best friend of 15 years about these emotions and personal “issues,” but I can sit down with a stranger and make an instant connection when we share a similar experience related to our emotions? Why is it that writing this blog post knowing that my all of my family and friends have the ability to read it (not that they will, but they could) freaks me out, but last year, when I posted something anonymously in more detail, I was proud of it?
I don’t really understand the answer to these questions, but I know one thing for sure: I’m done being scared. I want people to learn from my experiences and I want others to teach me about theirs. I want the world to understand that there’s nothing wrong with having problems and that part of healing is being able to talk about them. I want the world to learn that showing emotion isn’t a weakness, it’s a strength. And the sooner we all understand that, the better off we’ll be.