Quite frequently, we feel the need to hide the way we truly feel.
This can be in a small way, like pretending that something someone else said didn’t hurt you, just to avoid unnecessary confrontation—or, it can happen in a much larger way, like spending years of your life pretending that you’re straight, or that you aren’t severely depressed and considering taking your own life.
And, similarly, this can happen for several different reasons. Maybe we’ve been told in the past that other people aren’t interested in hearing how we feel. Maybe we feel like the way that we feel is inappropriate—that we’re simply exaggerating to ourselves or seeking attention—even if we haven’t even told anyone yet.
We’ve just internalized this idea that the way we’re feeling is always associated with attention seeking. Or, maybe we don’t want to burden someone else with our honesty; we don’t want to make them worry about us, or angry with us, or look down upon us. We want to maintain a certain image before them—a strong, healthy, normal image, even if we don’t feel like we match it.
And so, we keep silent.
We say nothing—but we keep on suffering. We keep on feeling.
And, we keep on feeling alone.
So, let me take this opportunity to say this: you need to say how you feel.
Now, maybe you need to be selective about who you say this to. For example, if are currently closeted, I am not advocating coming out to people who you know are not going to accept you, but rather, will try to hurt you, either physically or mentally.
If sharing the way that you feel is guaranteed to cause you harm of some sort, then I am very sorry for you, because you do not deserve that. You deserve the opportunity to be open and honest about how you feel without fear—and if you can’t be, then that is not your fault. That is the fault of the other person who is causing you harm, whether they are doing it intentionally or not.
But regardless, in every single situation, it is important for people to not shoulder their burdens alone. We, as the human species, need people—we need to open up and to communicate.
And, once you do that—whether you’re talking about a mental illness, your identity, or a mere fear or anxiety that has been plaguing you—a miraculous thing happens: the burden becomes easier to bear.
All of a sudden, you are not alone in this world. There is someone else out there who knows how you feel and who understands you and shares in your experience.
Furthermore, when you talk to someone else about how you feel with someone you trust, it can often validate your feelings, or help you to work through them. Too often, our own minds become toxic places to hold thoughts, especially if we hold them for a long time.
The longer they’re in there, the more that they sour, becoming something that doesn’t even reflect reality—and sometimes, the only way to recognize what they have become is by getting them out there in the real world to be discussed.
Maybe you’ll realize that the way that you’ve been feeling is ridiculous—or, maybe you’ll realize that the only ridiculous thing about all this was holding onto it for so long, or thinking that you were wrong to think it in the first place.
Too often, I hear from people who have been holding onto thoughts and feelings for years and haven’t opened up—haven’t even explored them. We, as a society, tend to encourage others to bottle up their emotions—to buck up, and be strong, and go through it alone. But, going through life alone is incredibly lonely—and sometimes, we just need to talk to others.
So, let’s talk.
Let’s offer ourselves to people who need our ears.
Let’s refuse to bottle up our emotions and leave them to fester.
Let’s stop promoting this idea that reaching out is weak, or that naturally occurring emotions can be wrong.
We all need to talk, and we should all have the opportunity to talk. Because there is nothing wrong with you, or how you feel. But, there is something wrong with a society that keeps us all silent.
Author: Ciara Hall
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Copy Editor: Nicole Cameron
Social Editor: Danielle Beutell