I grew up not knowing how to talk about a lot of things. Especially feelings.
I was taught that it’s ok to show emotion in sports. If my team won or lost, then I was allowed to cry. The rest of the time I was told to “walk it off” or “keep it together”.
Later, when I experienced tough times, I felt crazy when I couldn’t convey how I felt. I felt misunderstood. I couldn’t relate to people. I isolated myself. I turned to unhealthy coping strategies to bury my uncomfortable feelings.
This way of life became destructive to relationships. I was a sweet, nurturing partner when I felt secure. Then I would detach, tune out, and become unavailable when I felt insecure.
After enough hurt feelings, enough failed relationships, I was humbled enough to want help. I turned to therapy; a sarcastic, witty therapist who held my feet to the fire. Our conversations revealed harsh truths. I grew up, emotionally.
I learned tactics for remaining present with people even when I’m uncomfortable. I learned it’s ok to ask for time to think, to say you’re not alright. I learned that leaning on others and being vulnerable isn’t weak.
There’s wisdom in knowing how to speak about how you feel. But these skills aren’t what we learn in school. We learn them on the fly. They’re forged in the fire of live relationships, often with people getting hurt in our education process.
Be brave and share how you feel with those you care about. It’s an act that requires choosing and prioritizing yourself. Your experience matters as much as everyone else’s.
Besides, there’s way more room outside than inside of you. Use that space to unburden yourself.