Tuesday, September 3, 2013

On brooding and feeling

This week I read an article on the Huffington Post by Andrea Vale, who, after a little research, I discovered is actually a High Schooler who writes for HuffPostTeen’s Blog. She discussed the stress high school junior’s go through in order to get the grades, extracurricular, and “interests” that they think Ivy League schools will appreciate – and how in the end it’s all just memorization and formulas.

She says: “I believe in the brooders and the feelers. In the end it is they who will have the insight to see wrongs in the world, and the passion to pursue a seemingly aimless conviction which ultimately will turn into the newspaper article, the play, the election which will inspire change and push us one step further into the future.

This piqued my curiosity and led me into a self-reflection that focused on something I had been thinking about a lot since I’ve been back at college. If you know me personally, then you understand the terms “Brooder” and “Feeler” describe me absolutely perfectly. I’m prone to texting my friends in the middle of the night with something along the lines of: “I’M JUST FEELING ALL THE FEELS RIGHT NOW” in regards to anything from a new song I’ve just discovered that dislodges some emotional memory, a new story idea or character that I can’t wait to write, or a simple reaction to a less-than-perfect day.

I’m emotional. I get excited about things. I obsess. I’m angsty. I brood and I feel. In high school, I discovered something to do with the tsunami of feels raging inside me. I turned to writing. When I was 16 I participated in NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, and wrote a 50,000 word novel. I wrote more, making it an 80,000 word novel. I wrote short stories and random scenes, and, yes, even the occasional fan fiction. I’m currently in the midst of rewriting my first novel completely, readying it to send out – just to see what happens with it.

When I was in High School – I had a set of great friends who supported and loved the odd, uncommon, black sheep that I was. They loved my quirks, and I loved theirs.

My first semester in college, things changed. For a period of time, I was around a group of people who perceived my quirks as flaws, and acted as if they’re constant jibes and harassments would fix these flaws, would normalize me, would make me more like them. Spoiler alert: it didn’t. I eventually got out of that situation, but not without some collateral damage to the odd, uncommon, quirky, black sheep that I was.

I began caring what people thought about me. A lot. I began analyzing every move I made. Every article of clothing I wore. Every word that escaped my mouth. I was on brooder and feeler overdrive, and I ceased to be a functional Matt. Was brooding and feeling wrong? 

So talk about something interesting? Here’s what I have to say: Don’t give a damn what people think about you. Let down your walls. Brood. Feel. Let your freak flags fly and be unapologetically and inexcusably you. Wear what you want. Say what you want. Write what you want. Geek out. Dye your hair. Try something new. Seek adventure. The only love you should be searching for is your own love for yourself – the rest will come when it’s meant to be. And remember: Lions do not lose sleep over the opinions of sheep. Yes, brooders and feelers, we are human. We are flawed. We have a cocktail of neuroses. But flaws don’t define us, and we’re not allowed to let our issues control us. Let the brooding and feeling flow through us and help us. It makes us who we are. So fall in love with yourself.