I have been pretty emotional and crying a lot lately as so many things are making my heart a little extra fragile this time a year. I normally would have put up a bright smile and pretend that nothing was going on inside of me and people would have said: my gosh! I love how positive you are!
This time around is different. You see, I not only grew up in a culture where showing your emotions is as much the norm, as it is celebrated; I also grew up in a school that really marked the way in which I see the world now. From ages 4 to 17, I spent my time going to a place that fostered interpersonal relationships, were we had yearly retreats to come closer to our emotions and by doing so, learn more about ourselves and get closer to others. A place where I met two of the closest friends that I will ever know and two of the few people who can read me without me ever saying a word about what’s going on inside me.
Fast forward a few years later and I found myself attending college in a country where emotions are usually kept to oneself and where I couldn’t “fit in” if I continued being as soft-hearted and as “clingy” as I had been my whole life. One does what she musts in order to be part of a group and I guess repressing my “soft” side was the way in which I was able to be less “different” than my peers.
Of course people who know me very well, know how passionate and emotional I am because I let my guard down when I’m with them. But as life changes, friends move away, distance gets in the middle, and you see yourself starting from the beginning, trying to figure how to act in different sub-cultures. Becoming a stay-at-home-mother definitely implied starting fresh, learning the rules of “momtiquette”, trying to “fit in” once more, but in a totally different way.
This time around I’m not the international student new to the country, yet sometimes I feel just as scared as when I first started meeting people here. Will they understand my accent? Will they be friendly or hard to talk to? Will they see me as just different? Will they accept me and take me as I am?
I have been lucky enough to find a group of people where I feel that I belong and that I’m definitely accepted and cared for; but even knowing all of this I have never, ever let my guard down and really showed just how emotional I really am.
I don’t know what is making me say all this right now. I guess is just that I am tired of repressing a very important side of who I am; tired of living a double life where I’m totally myself with my friends from back home and those few ones with whom I am extremely close with, but a more calculating version of me (the proper, polite and always diplomatic) with people who I really like but don’t know well-enough to risk being regarded as just another “drama queen”. I guess I just had the impulse to follow my instincts and start being more myself this week.
Just a few days ago, I went to a party where I shared that I hate New Year’s Resolutions as I never get to check off all the things on my list and that makes me feel under-accomplished. So this year instead, I decided to live life as it comes following the mantra of: Your own existence doesn’t admit representatives. After the party ended, one of my friends said that my goal for next year was a very positive one -kind of like trying to see everything through a bright light. I told her that my goal was not to be positive but to live life (including the emotions) as they come. To feel happy when I can but to feel sad when I need to and to be OK with that.
I’ve heard so many times in the past couple of months that you can “choose” to be happy or sad. I respectfully disagree, one doesn’t choose her emotions, but one is responsible for what she does with them. This new year I will be responsible for how to handle my emotions, but I will live them as they come and if that means that I’m incredibly sad and homesick for the holidays, SO BE IT. I will be true to myself.