Let me tell you the story of these two people I know. Let’s call them Alex and Riley. Alex and Riley both like each other- a lot. Alex can’t stop thinking about Riley, and Riley can’t stop thinking about Alex. However, despite each other’s mutual interest, they refuse to be honest about each other’s feelings for one another. Alex will act indifferent to Riley flirting with someone else, even though it kills them inside. Riley will wait all day for Alex’s texts, but then wait another hour to reply for fear of appearing too ‘eager.’ Both of them want each other, but without clear communication, they’re constantly running in circles around each other while both getting hurt along the way. Frustrating, right?
Alex and Riley aren’t just two people I know. I’ve been them. I know many people who’ve been them. They symbolize an entire generation of people who cannot articulate their emotions.
I grew up watching Jane Austen movies with my mum. I’ve noticed in every film, no one has difficulty conveying their feelings. When two characters are in love, they announce it to one another. (In particular, Mr. Darcy’s speech to Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice comes to mind.) What’s the difference between Jane Austen’s time and now? Why have emotions suddenly become this taboo concept that people are terrified to talk about? Is it fear of rejection? That is absolutely a key element, however, that fear was certainly alive hundreds of years ago. I’m sure Mr. Darcy was terrified Elizabeth would reject him. (If I remember correctly, she did at first, right?)
As I mentioned in my blog post, Fighting Fear, fear of rejection is rooted in insecurity. We’re scared people will reject us because they see the flaws we see in ourselves. Insecurity is such a powerful concept. It can completely take control of our lives. When we hate ourselves, it shows. We self sabotage and get into toxic habits that are difficult to break. It not only affects us, but it affects everyone else around us. Feeling the need to overcompensate and pretend our feelings don’t exist pushes the people we actually want to be in our lives away. However, this only increases our self-loathing because by pushing people away we are in turn giving ourselves more reason to believe we are unloveable. We forget that every single person in this world wants to be loved and accepted. No one wants to be completely alone.
Another reason for dismissing our emotions is because we like control. We are a society that thrives on being able to control our day to day lives through apps and other technologies. (I know I’m not the only one who freaks out the moment I lose mobile service trying to get to my destination and google maps doesn’t work.) Emotions, however, aren’t predictable. They suddenly creep up on us without warning. The moment we divulge our feelings onto someone else is the moment we lose our control. Giving our heart away gives them the power to do what they want with it, whether that means holding and cherishing it or crushing it with their foot. At least by keeping our feelings to ourselves we already know that we’ll end up broken-hearted.
In recent years I’ve become someone who thrives on emotional transparency. I hate not knowing things, and because of this, I feel like I need to be completely honest with other people. When someone knows exactly how you feel, their actions from then on in define who they are as a person. If they’re completely aware of your emotions and they still hurt you, you know their intentions were completely sincere. Feelings are often misinterpreted as a weakness, however they are what make each and every one of us human. Expressing your emotions is allowing yourself to be vulnerable, and that in my humble opinion, is one of the bravest things you could ever do.