Is this feeling unique to me?

by mckennabailey

What emotion do you wish you could better control?

This was an interesting question to open up to considering I just listened to a podcast about stoicism. Based on the inspiration I gathered from that podcast – I’d like to control every emotion better.

But since I avoided the question last week I figured I should actually answer this week in a direct way.

My experience with emotions is pretty mixed. Certainly I would describe myself as an emotional person – in fact, every time I’m asked when the last time I cried was I can always answer. Not that it’s a daily practice, but it is often enough that I can never not remember the last time I cried. But the peculiar part is people ask me that question a lot – because they don’t think I cry often at all.

And I don’t have an issue with the frequency with which I cry – or the frequency I feel any emotion actually. I will say, though, that the amount (or deepness) I feel this one particular emotion that I relate most to contempt is something I wish I could control better.

I say I relate this feeling to contempt, because it isn’t quite contempt. The particular feeling I’m talking about isn’t about disregarding someone or something because I think it’s beneath me – but it’s more about not paying attention to that person’s opinion because they don’t matter to me. I think there’s an acute different between thinking someone is beneath you and thinking that person doesn’t matter to you – but maybe I just tell myself that to not sound like such a monster to strangers on the internet.

Growing up in a house with four kids with very different personalities it was clear to me that I was the “uptight” one. Now that I’ve grown up and seen myself in the context of the world, I can see that I’m not that uptight, but when compared to my two older sisters, I was the square.

By the time I got to college, I was hell-bent on proving to myself (and probably to them) that I wasn’t the nerdy sister. As you might guess, that lead to some pretty terrible decisions and one or two toxic relationships. I regret some of the things I did during that time, but I don’t look back on that time with embarrassment anymore.

The true lasting effect of that time period, and my personal growth since, is my refusal to let other people’s opinions of me matter. Because now I have these regrets that don’t haunt me, but certainly don’t represent the kind of person I want to be, all because I was trying to prove I wasn’t the person other people thought I was. The idea that I don’t concern myself with other people’s opinions of me sounds much healthier on paper – er, screen than it actually is in practice.

Sometimes it can turn to that contempt-like feeling where I think that person is unqualified to even talk about me and maybe it turns into judgement of that person? I don’t know if they have a word for the feeling I’m describing, really. Maybe it’s a unique feeling to me. Or maybe it does exist and I just don’t want to admit to myself that I feel that thing. Either way, I think that feeling where I don’t allow other people’s impressions of who I am into my conscience at all could, in some ways, hinder my own personal growth.

Maybe some strangers’ first impressions of me are accurate. Maybe I should allow people to tell me what they think about me and really process it to see if I agree or disagree. Or maybe they could never know me like I know me and once again, I’m right.

Just by acknowledging that I feel this feeling sometimes, with strangers and people I’m close with, makes it a little easier to work on and maybe one day this will be an emotion I’m in complete control of. But for right now, I could use some restraint in this area.

Thank you for stopping by – hopefully this didn’t make you think I’m some kind of monster.

I’ll see you on Friday.