From time to time, I like to post Twitter polls to get an idea of where people are at with their communication and interaction. They’re anonymous and easy enough, so it’s really a great tool to get some insight.
The last poll I posted, which was earlier this week, posed the question, “What stops you from expressing your emotions with someone?”
I offered four possible answers: It makes me look weak, being judged, I don’t know how, rejection.
After the poll ended 24 hours later, I had garnered 89 votes, and here’s a breakdown of the results:
What stops you from expressing your emotions with someone?
— Bruna (@brunanessif) May 3, 2017
Nearly half of users admitted that the fear of rejection stopped them from expressing their emotions with someone. Meanwhile, there was a pretty even spread across the other possible reasons. Every answer is rooted in fear. You’re afraid of looking weak, you’re afraid of being judged, you don’t know how to express yourself so you’re afraid it’ll come off wrong, you’re afraid of being rejected.
But what is fear? Is fear, especially in situations when your life isn’t on the line, even real?
Let’s explore this a bit…
Option 1: It makes me look weak. Says who? This has been an ongoing conversation sparked from the idea that society has attempted (and seemingly succeeded in certain cases) to make us believe that vulnerability and weakness are synonymous. But those who refuse to accept that, those who put their emotions on the line, those who are willing to be transparent, can tell you that there is absolutely no weakness involved. Being able to share yourself unapologetically with anybody takes immense strength. Look at this damn blog! I’ve shared things with you that I’ve never even spoken about aloud to people close to me. Is that me being weak? No. It’s me understanding that my emotions and my feelings, my experiences and my thought processes, are part of what makes me a human being, and I am not alone in that. So, why not express it? No one decides what constitutes as weakness for me except for me, and when it comes to putting my bare soul out on the line for the world to see, there’s nothing stronger than that.
Option 2: Being judged. Fear of judgment has manipulated our day-t0-day lives for as long as I can remember, but think about that. Like, really think about it. By fearing judgment, you are living your life according to what someone else may think of you, and by doing so, you’re placing power in hands that don’t even deserve to hold it. Who the fuck cares what other people think of you? Oh, you think I’m dumb for telling this guy I like him? Cool. You have nothing to do with my life, so your opinion does not affect my life. And, I’m sorry to break it to you, but we’re constantly being judged. Every minute of every day, someone is judging you, and you’re probably judging someone else without even realizing it. “Oh, I don’t judge anyone. Placing judgment isn’t cool.” Well, you just judged people who judge. It’s fine. It happens. But if you’re going to be judged regardless, you might as well live your damn life without caring about what other people may think.
Option 3: I don’t know how. Of all four answers, this one probably has the most legitimacy behind it. You don’t express your emotions to someone, because you don’t know how. That’s real. Not everyone is a master communicator, and not everyone knows the best way to go about delicate and intimate conversations. However, that doesn’t make it impossible. If you don’t know how, then ask. Learn. Talk to people you trust and get some advice. Figure out what works best for you, because I’ll tell you right now, hiding behind a shrug and, “Well, I don’t know how to tell them,” isn’t going to cut it for long. Stop making excuses, because at some point, you’re only using this reason as a cover up for one of the other reasons listed.
Option 4: Rejection. Nobody wants to be rejected. We don’t tell the boy we have a crush on that we’re feeling him, because what if he doesn’t like us back? We don’t tell the girl we kick it with that we see her more than just a friend, because what if that fucks everything up? What if we’re not good enough? What if they don’t like us back? What if they laugh at us? The “what ifs” are endless. But what if he does like you back? What if she also looks at you as more than a friend? What if you’re more than enough, and the only reason you’re laughing is because you assumed the worst and it wasn’t nearly close to the truth? By holding back because of a fear of rejection, you’re already giving yourself a no. Sure, giving yourself the L before knowing if it’s even the case is “safe,” but what kind of life are you living if you’re already shooting yourself down before even trying? Shoot your damn shot. Yeah, you may get rejected. So what? We all get rejected. At least you took a chance, and now you can move forward knowing, not guessing, what the deal is. And the closure there is a luxury that not many of us are willing to give ourselves.
I chose those four options on purpose. I knew they were common drivers that hinder ourselves from speaking our truth, but I also knew that the root of those reasons aren’t worth the fear that they brew, as I just explained.
So, whatever your reason may be for not expressing your emotions with someone, really think about it. Is it worth your power? You are literally sacrificing your right, and need, as a human being to express yourself for this reason. Is it worth it? Or is it a fleeting concept that has been placed upon you by societal constructs and misguided fear?
Take control of your life. Speak your truth, because it is your truth. No one can take that away from you.
I will always let my heart speak. My voice may quiver when the words come out, but at least they were spoken and not hidden behind false assumptions of fear.