A few days ago someone asked me why I wasn’t stressed, and that I seemed really positive about everything. And my standard reply is ‘if you see me stressed, shit is going down’.
I find it extremely difficult to show that I am upset without it being a total emotional breakdown - it’s a balance I’m still figuring out. It’s only recently that I started talking truthfully about how I was feeling. You know why I think it’s important to - because it gives you strength, because you’re speaking your truth, because there’s more of a chance of things going your way.
Here are some reasons I found it so difficult for the longest time, that I hope some of you will relate to as well.
1. I was raised in a very unemotional household
My family and I do not talk about our feelings. Similar to many immigrants and people of colour households, my parents, and their parents and their parents, would be too busy trying to survive and not starve than to wonder why they feel the way they do. I had no clue how to bring up talking about my feelings, and I did not trust my parents with them either.
Sharing my feelings would always equate to lectures or ‘that’s the way life is supposed to be’. Being ‘happy’ was not the aim of the game - it was to study, to go to school, to work. Telling my parents I didn’t want to do something, or disliked something, meant nothing. I was used to my feelings being unimportant, or my own problem.
2. I associated sharing what I felt with bad behaviour
I thought that questioning, not wanting to do something, raising my concerns or unhappiness was acting up, a form of rebellion.
I hate to tie this back once again to race, but I do think it was from my parents and the Asian mentality of work hard and do whatever the boss/teacher says. If they ask you how it’s going, it’s great. Disagreement is seen as thinking your boss/teacher isn’t smart enough.
I now try to reframe it as doing my duty - it’s my job to raise a problem if I see one at work. It’s my job to say what I feel to my friends not only for myself, but to show them that they can share their negative feelings too.
Bosses/teachers need feedback, and if they don’t appreciate it, at least it’s raised and they can’t say no-one told them.
3. I had a fear that people were going to use what I told them against me
On the surface, not telling people what I was feeling was like keeping my secrets. If you didn’t tell your secrets, then no-one would tell them to others and gossip about me or judge me. Classic Scorpio behaviour.
Newsflash: my secrets/ feelings aren’t that scandalous. If I told someone I was having a hard time, who are they going to tell? Our mutual friends? That would be like an ‘oh no’. I don’t have any enemies (I think) and they wouldn’t care. No one else would care.
I’ve also realised that by now, everyone feels the same feelings, but we just talk about the happy ones. We’ve all felt like our friends dislike us, that we aren’t where we want to be in our lives, that something is missing or that we’re fighting with our families, partners or friends.
I honestly think the human condition is to always have something bothering you.
It’s a weird thing to have a point on, but I have yet to meet someone who is a combination of all of the following: healthy, pain-free, well rested, has no financial problems, happy with their relationship status, happy with their job and lifestyle and have family and friends who are giving them zero problems.
Everyone has something in this list that’s bothering them.
And that’s what makes opening up so good at connecting people. People know and understand. It’s not everyday where you have conversations to form deep connections, but when you do it’s because you’re opening up.
All those deep and meaningfuls in the nights, conversations when it’s been one on one - you feel connected to the person because you’re discussing your feelings.
If they’re your friends, they won’t judge you for it.
4. I was scared to accidentally overshare
I thought I didn’t know how to talk about my feelings, because I never had. I guess I had some assumption where I thought it would be super formal or hard to bring up, or I would not be able to explain myself properly.
However, I’ve developed a few “hacks” to slide into the convo when you want to get something off your chest.
- When people say ‘how are you’, reply back with ‘shit’
- Have a text rant to your friend over messenger
- Swear a lot during your story telling
Honestly though, practice makes perfect. After telling more than one person, the feelings also stop hitting as hard. Telling the same story a few times makes it way easier to talk about and for me to feel like I had power over it.
I was always worried I would word-vomit and not be able to say what I wanted. I have yet to ever word vomit, and it’s actually hard to say things I don’t mean - my challenge was the barrier to actually sharing.
I guess I’m so passionate about sharing how you feel, and #strengthinvulnerability because of how much better it made my relationships with my friends, coworkers and life. Less ‘I wish I said this’ and ‘noone understands me’ to ‘nearly everyone gets me, and they’ll respect me for sharing.
Which is why it’s the ‘motto’ for Tsrang Label - being comfy while feeling safe to speak your truth.
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