I wouldn’t say that I am a particularly emotional person. I don’t know that any of my friends would say that either. I mean…I have emotions; I just don’t think there is an overabundance of them. I’m not even sure exactly how many emotions would constitute an overabundance.
But there has to be some magical number of emotions that you are allowed to exhibit, some threshold to which you are limited. I don’t know this magical number — it’s definitely different for men and women — but I know that I’ve crossed the allotted emotional boundary. Which puts me firmly in crazy territory.
Of course no one comes out and says “you’re nuts.” They don’t have to. It’s written in the subtext of my ex-landlord’s emails and people use different words to describe it at work: well, no one else has ever had a problem with it before, why are you so you moody? Don’t get so upset about it! I’m not bothered by it, I never get upset, and my personal favorite, you’re just so…passionate about these things (as if there was some other way to be about life!)
These conversations generally result in me exhibiting the anger emotion because the underlying issue – the subtext — behind all these statements is ultimately dismissive: why can’t you just be more like us? As if there was a mold or memo detailing exactly how you should act in each situation (for whatever reason the go-to emotion at work seems to be stoicism). And if you go against the mold, if you don’t follow protocol and act like everyone else then perhaps you are crazy.
I hate it when people treat me like a crazy person. Like I don’t make sense. Like I might get naked and start hula hooping at any second. Like we’ll give you a wide berth until you can settle down with all that emotion nonsense! It doesn’t seem to matter that _____ is being offensive, disrespectful, or rude, it’s my non-stoic response that’s the problem.
The actual problem seems to be that I am messily human. I experience the entire range of human emotions: I cry and laugh and yell, and every once in awhile I even experience all three in one day. Sometimes I sing and I actually practice my dance turns in the wardroom -there is nothing Spartan-like about me. Maybe that is crazy, but I seriously doubt it.
Perhaps there is a way to live life with less intensity, less emotion, less passion, but I never got that memo and I’m not sure I could comply if I tried. I don’t march to my own drum, I am my own drum –I’m actually more like a whole percussionist section. And each day I try to drown out the people who insist that we all have to be the same. The ones who whisper insidiously: we have this nice mask called everyone else that we’d like you to try. If you could just sit still for a minute…