I would say that my friends and I are all basically similar. I say basically because on the surface we are not. If you lined us up and looked at us you wouldn’t think so – in my main circle alone we have Make Up Artists, Business Managers and Fire Women (!), Music Moguls and Teachers, and enough lovely ‘Marketing Girls’ to fill an office. We all like different things, have different tastes and styles, eat different foods and have our own interests, but there is something about us that is basically the same. Some kind of affinity I feel with my close friends which I don’t feel with the people who I don’t become close to. I have been wondering, what is that? What is the thread that pulls a group of people so outwardly different, together? I think it is to do with the depth we live at. ‘Wavelength’ is starting to make sense to me beyond having the same taste in music. I have realised recently that while my friends and I are different in many ways, we are the same in our basic outlook and the way we feel things, and I think that is has a big part to play in bringing us together.
When I was little I assumed everybody felt things in exactly the same way, at exactly the same depth. As I got older I couldn't understand why I got upset about things when other people didn't, or why people couldn't see other people’s feelings like I did. As an adult, I have realised that people don’t feel things the same. At all. They perceive things very very differently. Different moral compasses, different curves of right and wrong, working on totally different levels and at different depths. It is mind boggling, and there isn't a right or wrong, just a 'what suits you.'
I pretty much know I feel things a fair bit more intensely than the average person. I used to think I was emotionally unstable or had some ‘issues’ because I felt things so deeply and wore my heart so very on my sleeve. I had ‘friends’ who reinforced that belief about myself and allowed me to believe it. It was only a few years ago, when my Dad said to me ‘you feel things very deeply, you see things very clearly, which is both a blessing and a curse', that I realised there was nothing wrong with me. I just feel things acutely, and that isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Since the days of feeling like the ‘odd one out’ because I got randomly anxious or struggled not to care, I have made several friends who feel things in the same way, who randomly cry when they see an old man having dinner alone in a pub (yes I did that) and who get so fiercely angry when they see someone they perhaps barely even know getting hurt. And they are really down to earth, happy, awesome people who I admire, which makes it easier for me to accept myself. Since then I have embraced that side of me too, because it is the same side of me who makes me able to truly empathise both with my closest friends and family, and people I barely know. It is that same side who makes me generous, kind and over-flowing with love. I can say those things about myself confidently – you don’t cry as many tears as me and not get to say those things about yourself!
I have had conversations with my best friends from way back who are basically the same in the way they feel things, the way they can be high as a kite one week and down the next. Since school we have had conversations which have involved us saying that sometimes we just wish we didn’t care so much, that we didn’t feel things so deeply, like the people who just get by and don’t cry at the sad things and shut out the difficult and the bitchiness and just get on with it. Their lives look calmer and selfish in an easy way. But then we always come full circle and say we wouldn’t have each other any other way. My friends who feel things deeply and are willing to work on that complex level are my best friends. They empathise with me when they have never even come close to experiencing what I have experienced, but they still ‘get it’ and I don’t have to explain why I am upset or elated or just plain confused. They just know and make me feel normal for it. That is so reassuring and I don’t know where I would be without them.
I think a lot of people see emotion as weakness still, and shy away from it, or find emotions annoying in some way. So many of my friends almost punish themselves when they feel negative things or remain upset about things they quite clearly should be upset about, and it makes it all the harder for them and self-hatred kicks in. There is way too much pressure to 'be okay' and 'cool' all the time, and it isn't normal. I think the 'keeping up appearances' vibe that is in the media doesn't help. Sometimes I wish a celebrity would just turn to the press, crying, and say 'I am devastated that Brad Pitt left me for Angelina Jolie and 10 years later it is still hard to accept', because why wouldn't they feel like that? I think it would help remove this stigma society attaches to unhappy emotions. I like quirky, emotional TV heroins like Jessica Day and reference her a lot, because she for me is so REAL (apart from how does anyone look that good?!) and she helps people in real life feel like its okay to 'brake for birds' and fall over in public and cry at the totally wrong time. We are people, sometimes we feel sad, sometimes we feel jealous, sometimes we don't like things in our lives - we aren't weak for venting those things. I encourage my friends to accept when they feel like shit and be honest about it, and then to work really damn hard at not feeling like shit anymore.
I have news – emotions are and always will be a huge part of being a person, negative ones too! Yes life can be temporarily ‘easier’ if you shut difficult feelings out and pretend everything takes place in your mind and body, but it doesn't and at some point that can of emoti-worms will open itself up. There is always another level, and it is present in everything you do, everywhere you go, and some of us can see it even when you think you are hiding it. Sometimes I wish more people would accept the emotional essence of humanity and how good it can be to not only acknowledge but share that side of you - I believe that the harder you cry, the louder you laugh, the more you live. But then again, everyone is different, and everybody has to be different, so I don’t try to change people who are different to me anymore or try and find their other level if they don’t want it to be found, because heaven forbid we were all as emotional as me!