Growing up I was a girl who let my emotions lead (what's changed? Those of you close to me are probably asking right now!) I remember crying myself to sleep some nights because I didn't understand how people allowed poverty to happen. I would cry for the kids in Africa who didn't have a chance,the kids on the Reserve next to me who didn't get to finish school. When I got upset, it wasn't just a rough day, it was the end of the world as I knew it. In turn, I loved harder than anyone, and when I was happy I thought anything was possible, I was sure. The way I explain it now that I have more words is that I felt every emotion as if it were touching a bare nerve, and really, I still do. As a child I thought everyone reacted the same way, I didn't know this was 'different'. But as an adolescent I was taught to feel ashamed for being emotional - it made me bad. When I got to university I found a discipline that empowered me with knowledge about society's perception of women's emotions and I read and learned about how this construct does not have to define me. I am an emotional creature. It is part of what makes me good at my jobs. It is part of what makes me a good friend. It is part of what makes me a good lover and partner. I feel things magnified. I do. Sad is devastating. Happy is elating. Looking back I hate that so-called "society" made me feel bad about being emotional, because what it was actually saying was that vulnerability is bad, weak, ugly. I don't think it is. If I didn't allow my vulnerability to dictate part of myself I would not be working in the not-for-profit sector helping those who are living in poverty. I would not be in the delivery room helping families welcome new members into their lives, I would not be up on stage peeling off layers and revealing myself. So to those of you who think that showing emotion is weak ask yourself why. When is the last time you felt so hard you couldn't contain it? When is the last time you told those around you how you wouldn't be without them? When is the last time you sat with your emotions and realized that you can make a difference. Being emotional is not bad. Being vulnerable is an art. This is what fuels empathy, compassion, and change.
I'm starting to learn that there are always going to be people telling me I am wrong for feeling, and that my emotional behaviour is a weakness. That's ok. I have also realized that all the tears I have cried are worth it. In turn I have smiled harder than I thought possible. I have felt love and loved bigger than so many people. The emotions that I have thought were a weakness for so so so long are slowly becoming something that I can embrace. Something that makes me a person whole believes she can change the world one person at the time. And I won't stop trying because I won't stop feeling.
Like the cool kids and rappers say these days, "hater's gonna hate!" Some people will never want to be a part of the way I feel. It may be that they don't understand how to feel, it may be that they have been hurt beyond belief, it may be they were taught to think a certain way, it may be that that emotion scares the hell out of them because it isn't controlled. Whatever it is, I will try my hardest not to judge them and make them feel poorly about that. It is just as much as what makes them them as emotions make me me.
It is really easy to write this and sound like I have it all figured out, and I just want to assure you, I don't. I have moments of clarity but I also have just as many moments where I feel like my emotions are still ugly and bad. It is a process for me. I'm quite certain it will be until the day I die. And in this tiny moment right now, I am going to put it out to the World Wide Web to be forever encrypted into the blogesphere that I am ok, even happy, with who I am becoming.
The video below is a bit long, but if you can spare 20 minutes check it out. In the very least watch the last 4 and a half minutes. I watch this every time I need a reminder that I am an emotional creature, and I am alright.