It’s been almost four months since I last posted. In case you’re wondering, that’s the longest break I’ve taken since starting this blog almost eight years ago. Sometimes I take “blogging breaks” when time gets away from me. Other times, I just don’t have the emotional energy it takes to write (especially when that’s how I spend my days anyway. Yay for dissertating). But this “blog break” stemmed from an icky combination of the two: Time has been moving way too fast (seriously, where did the spring go?), and I have more feelings than I know what to do with.
According to the Myers-Briggs personality test, I am very much a “feelings person.” This means that, when it comes to making decisions or navigating through life, I tend to go with my gut. I can make choices based on logic; I think through—and likely overthink—just about everything I do. But when it comes time to make a choice or take a next step, I’m going to act based on my emotions. If something doesn’t feel right, then I’m probably not going to choose it. And my emotion-driven tendencies aren’t limited to making decisions. I feel many things very deeply and, according to one personality test, even turbulently. As much as I try to downplay it or deny it, I feel things very strongly; that’s just how I’m wired.
This characteristic comes with its share of pros and cons. On the one hand, I really do enjoy life. When things are going well, I experience—and spread—a lot of joy. People describe me as having a “sunshiny personality,” and even my American Sign Language (ASL) name is a play on the sign for “smile.” When life is good, it’s really good, and I experience those feelings fully. But the reverse is also true. When life is hard and when sad things come, I feel those emotions deeply. It would seem that you can’t have one without the other.
Just as there are some things that will always bring me joy (catching up with friends, guinea pig snuggles, and the perfect bowl of cornflakes), there are also certain things that will inevitably make me sad. Change—and the passage of time, more broadly—is one of the biggest culprits. For as long as I can remember, the passage of time has filled me with a sense of loss. I remember being four or five years old and crying in my parents’ bedroom about the reality of change and time and growing up. Although I don’t (necessarily) cry in my parents’ room anymore, that feeling of sadness has never quite gone away. In fact, the more friendships I build and the more goodbyes I say, the more acute the pang of loss becomes. No, it doesn’t always last as long as it used to (I was a wreck for months after leaving Graz in 2010), but the pain is still real all the same.
In sum, I’m not a fan of change. And if I could control time, I would slow it down, rewind it, redo it, and live it all over again. I realize that’s not possible. I’ve come to accept that time marches on, and I can’t stop it. And as much as I dread changes, I adapt to them fairly well; history has shown that I come out fine on the other side. But that doesn’t mean that I enjoy the process. Even good changes—like getting married to the most wonderful guy—can still make a part of me feel sad inside.
Add my dislike of change to my affinity for feelings, and you’ll see why I haven’t blogged in the last few months. Yes, I’ve been ridiculously busy with writing a dissertation, planning a wedding, and figuring out so many details about being married (after two straight months of searching, we finally have a place to live!). But busyness is only part of the story. I’ve also been a bit of a basket case. To quote the great philosopher Ron Burgundy, I’m in a glass case of emotions. Or in the words of Mean Girls, “I just have so many feelings.” And I don’t even go here.
Don’t get me wrong. I really am excited about what lies ahead. In two months, I’ll be married to the man I love. In the spring, I’ll be teaching another class at Emory. And by this time next year, I’ll have graduated with my PhD. Amen, praise be, HALLELUJAH! I have so much to be thankful for, and I truly am grateful.
But even in the midst of joyful anticipation, I also feel some sorrow. Because although these are incredible gains, they also entail loss. I won’t be as independent anymore. My relationships will inevitably change. My roommate and best friend of six years will be living in another state. In other words, my life will look very different. And while I know it’s a good and exciting different–one based on beautiful new beginnings–it requires an ending. In many ways, life as I’ve known it will be gone for good. So although I am excited for what’s to come, I can’t help but mourn the things left behind.
And so, to get back to the original intent of this post, that’s why I haven’t written. When my schedule and feelings are full, my energy stores (and tear ducts) become empty. In times like these, writing becomes challenging. I like to write posts with tidy conclusions and clever endings. I don’t enjoy the tension of being both happy and sad, excited and sorrowful Mixed emotions make me uncomfortable because, perhaps more than anything else, they remind me that I don’t have things “all figured out.” But I’m learning that being present–and being honest–means admitting to and experiencing all the feelings, even the not-so-sweet ones.
Speaking of sweet things, I could really go for some Nutella right now…