Writing About Feelings Doesn't Make It Easier For Me To Talk About Them
Walking onto a subway car is a gamble. In the summer, an empty one can mean no air conditioning. In the winter, an empty one can mean a foul smell. On rare occasions, like at 2pm on the downtown A train coming from Dyckman, sometimes the emptier subway car is both foul smelling and a reminder that no matter how uncomfortable, space is meant to be taken up.
I am two days into being 25, weeks into my own version of an existential crisis. I've held mugs of hot chocolate as tears streamed down my face, red solo cups with wine as I laughed myself into existence again. This morning on the A train I sat with the same uncomfortable truth that accompanied me on the way back downtown in the afternoon — why is it that our biggest fears and our biggest wants are often so entangled?
I want to be seen and, also, I'm afraid to be seen.
I share so much of my life online that at times it can be misconstrued with being the whole truth, with it being my whole person. There are crevices no one knows. There are inches of myself that I'm still exploring, that I'm still trying to translate into words that can be consumed by those I love.
More often than people may assume, I choke on words as they sit in my throat and are stopped by fear from making their way out. It's why I write, it's why speaking on a personal level can be more difficult for me.
The reality of translating a language whose alphabet is made up of scars, triumphs, open wounds, and tear stained patches of skin is a feat of its own. The distractions abound - I look at my phone, at the 15 other open tabs on my computer, at the way the light shines off my ring - anything and everything that will put distance between me and the importance of learning to speak the language of my battle wounds, of my hurt.
Because once I learn how to translate it into English I'm responsible for teaching it to someone else. I'm responsible for teaching my friends how to love me, for teaching my boyfriend the ways my heart hurts and why. The weight would shift from my shoulders to my heart and the bravery I used to look within would need to find a way to reach out.
I would be tasked with doing more than just committing words to paper. I would need to use words in conversation where my control is limited to the words I speak and how I speak them, because how they’re interpreted is beyond me. It’s a test on my ability to surrender and sit still long enough for the person sitting in front of me to process and react. It’s a test on my belief that being seen and being rejected are not synonymous.
In conversation, I am a platter that would need to be consumed whole; an all or nothing alphabet soup.
The train is moments away from my stop when I start to notice the other people around me, how I exist in relation to them. I ask myself if they too are hurting and in what ways they’re speaking to their pain, if it’s in conversation with themselves or with others. I wonder if they have anything to teach me, if they would be willing to if I just asked.
I’ve been living by the phrase ’stay curious’ as of late because it’s the one phrase that challenges my need to speak quickly and defiantly. It forces me into the present moment and to engage with those around me because it reminds me that for as much as I exist behind a computer, first and foremost, I exist in community with others.
My need to be seen and my fear of being seen exist beside each other because that's where my translation begins. I want to be seen for who I am and I'm afraid that when I am seen, that I will be rejected or questioned.
What are you afraid of? What do you want most? Maybe, start the conversation there.