I turned 21 yesterday, and I thought a lot about how people say we start to feel less as we grow older.
Life has a way of hustling, bustling, and throwing us to the ground… So often, we will put up a wall to try and hide or protect ourselves.
The world supposedly makes us bitter, or cold, or untrusting. Lots of people become weary and tired. Flinchy, perhaps.
I know, I’ve seen it. But it really doesn’t have to be that way.
I’ve even seen others start to think the world deserves our unkindness. Hell, that’s even crossed my mind every now and again. But nothing deserves our unkindness.
To be fair, normally when people say this, they aren’t saying we get bitter by the time we’re 21. Generally, they probably mean that by the time we get old and gray, we get tired, too.
We lose our awe at sunsets. We aren’t amazed that we are here. We lose touch with our inner selves. We forget how good kindness does the world.
And because of all of this, we condition our selves to feel less. We run and hide from the very things that make us human – emotions.
I can’t count the number of posts I’ve seen on Facebook that are like “next time I try to catch feelings, just slap me instead” or “there’s a new STD called feelings – don’t catch that shit” or something along those lines.
These always make me roll my eyes.
Feel whatever the fuck you want, seriously. You don’t have to run and hide from things, you just have to have faith that you will make it through. As cliche as it is, you really do have to believe in yourself.
Catch feelings. For everything. Whatever you want. I’m not just talking about love, I’m talking pride, shame, pain, joy, fear, trust, betrayal, adrenaline, everything.
It’s so frustrating to see people run and hide from how they feel and then complain about not being happy. If you fake happy all the time, or put on a fake smile to please those around you, or run from other, more negatively associated feelings, you won’t feel pure joy.
From 20 to 21 I felt SO MANY THINGS and a lot of them were exhausting, terrifying, dreadful, and horrendous. I had uplifting moments too, as we need a little bit of that to keep us going, but it really was not my year.
And at 21 I feel amazing. After all that struggle and trouble, I feel much better than I did at 19. That’s probably because I’ve grown, and being 21 actually does feel a little different than I felt at 19 or 20.
I feel much more free, not because I can buy alcohol or rent a car or whatever, but because the hardest years of my life have made me grateful and right now, I’m happier than I’ve ever been.
Since I have stayed true to myself and my emotions this past year, although it damn near drained me, I have come back 10x the woman I was before.
The sunset driving home yesterday was magnificent. I got to hold the love of my life’s hand all day. I fell asleep in the warm sun and my sunburn really isn’t that bad.
I’m just loving it.
So catch feelings – for anything you damn well please.
The sun, the stars, earth, water, sons, daughters, pride, literature, architecture, nature. Tell your mom and dad you love them. Go visit your grandparents. Feel for your pets, light, darkness – feel things for whatever you choose. It is your right.
I won’t ever put up a wall and shut things out, and you shouldn’t either, I don’t think. I mean, it’s your life, do what you will with it – but if you shut things out you’ll stop growing, and I think we love to grow.
That’s why we love hitting milestones, rights-of-passage, little wins and promotions.
And the best way to grow is to let yourself free, and let yourself fly.
“We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down,” Vonnegut