Growing up, I was exposed to every sport known to humans: I played soccer, softball, volleyball, ran a bit, did cheerleading, and watched nearly everything else. A lot of people don’t play sports because they’re not good. I won’t admit that. I once won an entire volleyball game myself because people couldn’t hit my serves and I was a kickass softball pitcher.
But, I couldn’t continue with sports because I was way too dramatic.
It’s not that I always knew I’d be much happier in the arts; on paper I’m a much better pitcher than I really am as an actor or singer, but I’m naturally a really sensitive person. I feel things really intensely and can come off, as my lovely friends enjoy pointing out, overdramatic. And when you’re 8, no one calls you lively or unique or artistic or a firecracker. They frankly think you’re a pain.
I don’t know if you’ve ever pitched at a crowded game before, but it is not for the faint of heart. It’s certainly not for the particularly anxious.
So, I would cry and shake, and feel all the feels, not because I was nervous, but because I was feeling so many things at once and all eyes were on me. I eventually quit sports for good because volleyball practice interfered with marching band camp and the rest is history.
Once I left sports, I was embraced by the amazing communities of artists and activists and writers and just all around amazing people who were just as intense and nuts and overdramatic as I was. I channeled and got an escape from all the muddle that was in my brain through the arts. I’ve learned from the people I’ve met that it’s OK to feel things so much that you can’t even put it into words. That’s why we write and paint and just sometimes jump around because the joy is too much and we’e afraid it’ll explode out of every pore.
But, the world is not an artists’ colony. Going into journalism, I’ve met a lot of amazing people who do not deal with emotions or even art the same way that I do. I’m the same old girl who cried at the pitcher’s mound to them sometimes, and I’ll let you in on a little secret: I found out years later that all of my teammates hated me for it. And I think my friends sometimes do, too.
I try to explain my insane brain to them or why I do the things that I do, but it’s like I’m speaking Latin. They don’t understand why an otherwise normal person will sometimes cry really hard at nonsense or why I sometimes enjoy performing as a man in a campy ’70s movie-musical.
When I was younger, I was often told to try to suppress a lot of my emotions because it scared people and I came on way too strong. Being overdramatic, or what I like to call feeling my genuine feelings, was not good. I had to be ashamed and not trust myself for feeling what I was feeling. It’s the whole nonsense about “if you smile enough you’ll make yourself happy.” BS.
Sometimes things aren’t sunshine and roses and occasional clouds. Sometimes for people the world could be falling down all around them and the very earth they stand on could be collapsing and sometimes they could feel so much joy, it takes every little bit to not feel like you’re seriously flying. Not everyone can squash their feelings into socially acceptable piles. And that’s OK.
The worst, most stressful thing that you can do for yourself is not be your authentic self. Being too loud or “too much” and overdramatic or whatever it is about you that bugs the shit out of some people is probably what makes someone else love you.
I know for me, my dramatic side has been an entire blessing, not even in disguise. It has allowed me an outlet for this raging sea of emotion that seems to always brewing below the surface of my mind. It has given me the love of my life: art. It has also given me the other great loves of my life: my dear friends. Because believe it or not: being your authentic self, though it may piss others off or cause an entire team of 12 year olds to hate you, will ultimately give you those who genuinely know your soul and can deal with your crazy ass.
I’d rather be nine people’s favorite thing than 100 people’s ninth favorite thing.
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