It kills me that I cannot express emotion. In so many ways I feel desensitized to the world around me. For so much of my life I’ve subconsciously been driven by society to conform to a gender role that stifles the expression of emotion and frowns upon anything that contradicts traditional notions of masculinity.
Over the past couple of years I’ve become much more extroverted in my interactions with others. But just because I’ve become comfortable speaking up and filling space with words doesn’t mean my contributions are meaningful. I lived in silence for so long that I feel like I now have to speak up anytime the room falls quiet. I’m more than willing to intellectualize, to offer up my opinions of why a football team should have run a particular play, why a certain economic policy is bad, or why the special effects in a movie were horrible. But I have trouble expressing my emotions and relating to people on a personal level. So much of my existence operates on a very impersonal level.
I’m more than willing to step up to a podium and deliver a speech or talk in a large group setting. In many ways a larger setting enables me to be impersonal, to remove myself from what I’m saying. Or at least I perceive the collective response by the audience as detached. I hate my life on a micro level. I struggle so hard to sit people down and explain to them on a one-to-one basis how I feel. I struggle to comfort people in times of need, often having no idea what to say and what body language to use. I feel so vulnerable when sharing my emotions on a more private, intimate level. The ultimate fear of rejection becomes so much more real to me.
When you talk in abstract terms and theories and someone disagrees with you, they reject the idea you put forth. If you open up emotionally on a personal level and someone disagrees with you, in many ways they reject who you are as a person. And to me that thought is terrifying.
It kills me that whenever my parents conclude a phone conversation with the phrase “I love you,” I never respond in kind but rather reply with a mere “have a good night.” It pains me that this weekend, at a retreat designed to foster a safe environment, I wrote a letter to one of my best friends in order to explain to him how much he means to me, because I couldn’t tell him to his face. It’s humiliating to come out to your parents by texting them from an airport security line before leaving home for six months. To me that’s the definition of being selfish, impersonal, and unable to recognize the impact your words and actions have on others.
I’m sick of running from discussing my real emotions with those who matter to me most in life. I’m tired of always running for political cover. I feel so much of what I say every day is merely a stump speech - the inspirational and eloquent, yet utterly meaningless trash we see politicians spew out all the time. So much of what I say is just bullshit. My humor and my love of metaphor are important parts of my personality. Parts that I love and refuse to give up. But I need to carve out a chunk of space for a little bit of candidness, a dash of frankness, and an iota of pure, raw, truth. Figuring out how to do so, well, I’m open for suggestions.