Talking About Feelings

I know that I need to just take my own advice but sometimes that’s fucking hard, you know? I find that there’s nothing worse than someone else telling you what to do. That’s why I like to make nice things that say what we need to hear, but like, not at you. You pick them up and decide whether or not to digest the message, on your own terms. But when I say it to myself, I don’t listen. I mean, guys, I made a fucking book about creativity getting you through a tough time. I literally sell a pin that says “CHEER THE FUCK UP” and I still feel down sometimes. Isn’t wearing the mantra supposed to fix all my problems?

Recently, someone visited my friend Alex’s shop Strange Ways in New Haven, and asked if he knew me. Then they asked if I’m “really sad in real life.” Which is so funny to me! I am a really happy person. But I talk about feelings a lot so maybe people confuse the two. I think for some of us, talking about feelings means we’re sad. Like a big “SAD” label is applied to the conversation before we can continue. For me, talking about feelings just means I’m being honest or open. It means I trust you. I can talk about my fear of death without actually feeling like I’m going to die. But I understand for some, that’s not normal. Being that open is weird. Feelings are private.

I can talk about my fear of death without actually feeling like I’m going to die.

I keep thinking about how all people are different, how we perceive identical situations completely differently. How someone who’s secretly too terrified to make conversation can be seen as standoffish, or someone raising their voice in excited support can actually be frightening. Some people are assholes by accident and some people are assholes on purpose (try to figure out the difference). It took me longer than most people to realize this, I think. Like you all got it, you all knew that it’s important to tread lightly and understand differences, and I was barreling through life like “we all think the same we are all on the same page!!!!!!!!” Nope.

There’s some anger I’ve been holding onto and it makes me so embarrassed. All the advice and things I’ve read aren’t changing that. I mean, I’m trying. I know better. But sometimes feelings are just feelings and you can’t just get rid of them with a hand lettered artist print, you know what I mean? It’s good to see something that makes you smile, but it’s not always enough to create change in a tangible way. I’m trying to let go of negative feelings but traces come back in quiet moments sometimes. Anyway, that sucks LOL.

sometimes feelings are just feelings and you can’t just get rid of them with a hand lettered artist print, you know what I mean?

All of this stuff is swirling around my head as I think about this next book I’m making. I hope to make something useful, hopeful, and real. We have enough people saying nice stuff, but for a lot of us, getting honest about feelings isn’t super easy. We can’t just open up whenever. We can’t look past our perceived (or diagnosed) labels. We might need shit to be a little more blunt, we might need repetition, and we might need to take our own advice. I hope that in a tiny way I can take all this learning that I am doing “by accident” and put it to good use. Or at least trick myself into taking it.

(A similar version of this originally appeared in this might be a good thing, my weirdly personal mailing list)