Wednesday, November 5, 2014

On Confidence in What You Feel, Say, Do, Make...

I've noticed lately that people are too apologetic for their feelings. 

Are we afraid of being too vulnerable when talking? Listen up as you walk to class. At least one and probably many more conversations you over hear will contain the phrase "I feel like..." I was completely oblivious until I read an article (couldn't find it again otherwise I definitely would have linked it) about how you sound less intelligent when you say this phrase; however, I'm still very guilty of the trap. Is this preface really that hard for me to forgo? Strangely yes. Every now and then I pause before I speak to make sure I don't fall victim to an "I feel like" conversation, yet I'm dumbfounded when trying to find a substitute! Stating my opinions and thoughts is so much simpler when accompanied by "I feel like." But why? Could we be using this phrase as a buffer between our true opinions and someone else's opinion of our opinions? Am I saving someone from taking great offense to what I say? What would I be risking if I did forbid myself to utter the phrase? 

 In another instance, while talking with a friend recently, I pointed out that I have a tendency to end all of my spiels with "That was weird, sorry I said that." It's true that I apologize incessantly for my speech, but it's not something I want to eliminate exactly. I'm not sorry I said what I said. Yes it was probably peculiar, but do you know me at all? Of course it was. Who needs my pointless apology? No one's looking for it anyways.

Much the same, Mom came home from bible study one time with the observation that ladies will always explain their outfit if they feel it is not up to their typical standards. "I was running so late today so I just threw on the first thing I saw!" "We just got back from the beach and I haven't been able to wash clothes yet!" "My daughter borrowed the sweater I was planning on wearing without even telling me!" All things I have heard uttered from smart womens' mouths. Is it needed? No. It's completely personal. I wasn't going to notice your weird pants until you pointed them out to me and even if I did, I wasn't going to comment on them! Still, I have been there. On Sunday I got back from a weekend of backpacking and went straight to dinner where I ran into a classmate and hurriedly explained the situation. But guess what? He didn't care and come to think of it, I didn't much care either. I like what I wore for my hiking weekend and so what if my hair is in a messy braid? It effects pretty much no one because this was not a formative event I attended, it was dinner to-go at a local Mexican chain.

Normally I'm actually pretty confident in what I wear. Many people claim that it takes a lot of confidence for me to wear what I do (hey there map leggings and mixed patterns). I've learned to wear clothes for my pleasure and expression and not for other's reviews. 

I am, personally, the most guilty of apologizing for my feelings and my circumstances. This past weekend, while backpacking, I twisted my ankle and had to go at a slower pace then I would have liked. I couldn't stop myself from apologizing to the group even though I was the one in pain. In my mind, I know that only I can feel the pain so if I express how sorry I am, maybe it validates my blunder to the others in my party. It's twisted (yes that's on purpose) but I'd feel like a phony if I didn't give them my sincerest "sorry! I don't want to hold y'all back!" That's not where my attention should be in those kinds of situations though. I believe it's completely acceptable to be a little selfish (within reason; aka can it be fixed with a band aid?) when you're injured but I divert all of my energy into appeasing others instead of fixing my problem. I need to suck up my pride and be confident and selfish in my injury. It doesn't matter if they think I'm faking, what matters is that I heal. 

When I was little, I was somewhat terrified of letting my sister see me cry. She had expressed to me somewhere along the way that she was not a crier and that she may or may not judge people who are. Well. I kind of am. For years I would do all in my power to restrain any emotion I had so that I would appear worthy of her attention. Ridiculous. Now I have come to realize that it's fine that we're different people and that I can be a crier even if she is not. Still, this one is tough to be nonchalant about. It's not a bad thing to feel different emotions, yet I feel guilty when I do. I only feel comfortable to feel as I do raw in specific circumstances. This is why going to the movies alone can be fun and also why I reject liking most of the literature we have to read in class. Peer pressure to feel a certain way about something restricts me from feeling the way I actually feel. 

A few weeks ago at lunch, my friend made a joke about how I'm not the best at the math section of the SAT. It wasn't even that offensive (although probably still a bit uncalled for) yet I started crying. Out of nowhere, my emotions took control. I seriously still don't understand what caused this. But does that matter? I cried. That is what matters. Was I confident in it? Did I just let it pass? OF COURSE NOT! I apologized for reacting the way I felt because apparently feelings are so forbidden. As the victim of a harsh joke, I could have just cried and let everyone come to their own conclusion. I didn't need to apologize for crying really because it was a natural reaction to a situation; however, I did and more importantly, my apology carried no weight. It was unnecessary because the deed had already been done. Be confident. Cry. React. 

I put all of these pieces together when I got home from school one day in a gloom. I briefly and bluntly took my mom through the events of the day with a slight attitude. "Do you want to start over?" My mom asked me. 

"No."

I stood up for my emotions and told her that I was not ashamed of the way I was feeling. It was freeing to express the way I felt un-apologetically. It had been a rough day. I didn't feel the need to put on a bubbly facade so that she could believe that everyday of my junior year was like a day out of "High School Musical." I was fine expressing the fact that I struggled that day. 

It may sound bratty, but it was important that I answered an honest no. My refusing to alter my feelings led me to the revelation that I should never have to apologize for my feelings. Hurting someone else's feelings? Yes. Having feelings? No. 

2 comments:

  1. You are an amazing writer! Not that you asked for my fine feelings, but I just can't not respond. To the first part of this I would say: "Say what you need to say plainly and then take responsibility for it." -Ai Weiwei and to the middle part: "Wear something cute and don't take any crap." -Clinton Kelly and to the last part - that same sister was working through a lot of insecurity when she said that and, I feel like this one might be necessary, I'm sorry I drug you through my misconception of the world. Especially if it ever withheld you from rawly feeling. That same sister has cried at such things as Christina Yang's last episode of Grey's Anatomy, being overwhelmed at least once a week, every single Auburn gameday for two years, the alma mater at pretty much any school, not winning, etc. etc. No one's got it all together, we're all just doing the best we can. But I think you're extraordinary and your posts reflect that :)

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    1. Thank you! Your opinion is so welcome here! The sharing of ideas is good, the shame of sharing ideas is bad. We read "Self-Reliance" in class yesterday and I was like "whoa. Ralph! Go read my blog post!" ;)

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