I consider myself a sensitive person who carries immensely deep emotions on a day-to-day basis. These qualities are also burdened by a vicious need to say “I’m sorry” for what feels like merely existing. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been told to “suck it up” or “dry my tears,” from daycare providers, peers, teachers, family, and friends. But now that I’m a grown woman with children of my own, I realize just how ridiculous those words were. Not to mention, insufferably rude.
In my younger years, an AMBER Alert on the television might cause me to full-out stress and sob over the disappearance of a child. I wouldn’t allow myself to go to bed at night without fervently praying for those kids, and it’s all because I was built with huge emotions which you’ll still find sewn right onto my sleeve.
Not much has changed in the way of my feelings since then. Orphaned dog and Hallmark commercials make me ugly cry. I can’t hear about a friends’ troubles and just dismiss them or not check in later. The tragedies in this world affect me personally. And, embarrassingly enough, from time-to-time, I scream unspeakable things at loved ones out of pure fury.
Sometimes, the way I react to my emotions isn’t healthy by any standards. And when I fall short, you can bet your ass I feel that f-word emotion (failure) at the upmost and sincerest level too. But it’s not the feelings I experience that present the occasional issue — it’s my reactions to them.
Of course, we need to be mindful of the potential for displays of emotions to cause harm, even if inadvertently. There’s a dangerous history (past and present) of “white women’s tears” as a means to silence a person of color. When uncomfortable talking about race or being calling out, white women often use their tears to gain sympathy, center themselves, or silence a POC. And sometimes displays of emotion can be used to manipulate. I’m aware of this and avoid it.
I also recognize the importance of the “right time and place.” And sobbing in front of my children isn’t the right time or place.
Still, sometimes I find great difficulty in separating my personal life and feelings from the rest of this big world. When this occurs, I — being the world-renowned apologizer that I am — sincerely make amends with those I may have negatively impacted.
But what about the times when I take a step back and realize I’m wasting “I’m sorry’s” for nothing? For just being human?
People feel for themselves and others all day long; it’s literally what makes us human beings and not some kind of robot-breed. So why the condemnation on those who lean into (or can’t help) sharing that vulnerability?
Those bare emotions ought to be embraced, because they oftentimes beam straight from the softest places in the heart. It comes from caring so damn much, and on such a personal level, that those feelings truly can’t be contained. And really, since when is that a weakness or a threat?
There are moments when I truly loathe being the kind of person whose emotions are written all over my face. Sometimes I’d enjoy being the woman who is unbothered by bullshit. But I’m not.
When someone hurts my feelings or I’m downright just not having a good day, it takes everything inside of me to hold back the wall of tears. I’ll go as far as to inwardly demand: Don’t cry, don’t you dare do it. Don’t give them the satisfaction. STOP! And yet, my chin starts to feel heavier, in comes the bottom-lip quiver, and cue the tears while I curse them for falling.
Of course, I shouldn’t use my “white women’s tears” as a weapon, and though I may not be able to hold back my emotions at all times, I can excuse myself from the situation if I feel my emotions might cause harm to another.
I can’t help it, this is who I am. And if it weren’t for the rest of the world giving me the side-eye like I’m an unconsolable infant every time I publicly let my emotions show “too much,” I wouldn’t care. But throughout my life, I’ve been conditioned to care more about the feelings of others than to freely express my own. In the attempts I make to unburden those around me, I hinder and hurt myself.
But I am an emotional person, and I will not turn cold or apologize so the bitter people of this world feel better about themselves. The haste and intolerance some folks project onto another for purely feeling is a bit like the pot calling the kettle black. Because haste and intolerance are emotions too, and they look a lot like anger and annoyance. Outbursts from feelings such as these are no different than showing sadness, excitement, or sorrow, and the stigma needs to end.
So, no, when I’m moved or deeply saddened, I will not “pull myself together,” and I will not feel on my own time. I am here for this moment and this moment alone, so I’m throwing myself all into it—drastic emotions and all.
Sure, this world is cruel. Yes, today’s society can be a humbling experience for those who feel on a deep level like me. But why do I feel pressured to “toughen up” just to suit everyone else’s seemingly harsh needs? Must I feel obligated to apologize for every little emotion I experience that may make another feel uncomfortable? Or, can I let it go and just feel free to be me?
I choose the latter, because I am a living, breathing human being who possesses emotions that (even as an adult) sometimes feel beyond my control. I am passionate in what I believe in and who I love, and it’s not a negative attribute when I allow that fire to burn for others to see.
This is who I am, and I make no apologies.
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