I started journaling a couple of weeks ago. And by that, I mean ‘proper’ journaling on a small red notebook with a fine line Mitsubishi pen. I got both the notebook and the pencil on a terrible day; I was away from Aberdeen, and I was feeling so lost and out of place. I saw this person coming out of a door camouflaged as the rest of the wall with a set of watercolours and a few drawing canvases, and I glimpsed on the other side of the door, seeing more colours and the simple sign art supplies. So, I went in, with the sole purpose of escaping the rain and not being alone with my thoughts. It is not a euphemism to say that I looked at every coloured pen, highlighter and brush in the shop, to the point where I felt I had to buy something to validate my presence there. Plus, I was the only customer, and the owners were smiling at me so hard that I thought I was in the Smile movie and got scared for a second. So here came along the red notebook and the Mitsubishi pen.
The plan was to start doodling while waiting for the bus back to Aberdeen, but I soon realised that drawings are not my strongest talent, and I should stick with words. Therefore, as always, I started writing.
It’s not like I have never written down my feelings or my day before, my phone notes are full of streams of consciousness, but they are only or mostly about bad days and bad moments, with the result that every time I go back and scroll through them, it feels like all my days are bad when they truly are not.
My first entry—remember, it was a horrible day—recites ‘I’m trying to love myself, I think I am on the right path, but I still feel trapped. I’m disgusted, disappointed. […more complaining…] I don’t know who else to pray to. I am alone, blocked. They say that writing helps, I have been writing my whole life and nothing is going away.’
Can you feel the drama? And, FYI, it sounds even more dramatic in Italian, the language I’m using for my journal. When I re-read these words a couple of days after writing them, I cringed and thought it was such an exaggeration of my actual situation. But was it? Another day, I read it and felt the same as that first infamous day. So which Emma is correct? The one who sees only the positive or the one who cannot find a way out?
I asked my therapist. She provided a clear yet emotional explanation of how both Emmas are right and wrong. They are right because I feel incredibly bad whenever a minor inconvenience happens in my life, and I feel incredibly good whenever I get a nice message, or it’s sunny outside, or my friends make me laugh. They are also wrong because the minor inconvenience becomes ‘everything is terrible and everyone hates me’, while the sun shining on this cold part of Scotland becomes ‘the Earth is beautiful, and life is so worth living.’
It is all about sensitivity: I experience every emotion five times stronger than other people, I empathise easily with friends’ problems, and I feel on my skin every single story I read or watch at the cinema (that’s why you’ll probably see me crying during most movies I watch).
Truth be told, I knew I was more sensitive than most way before my therapist told me. But I kept seeing this trait of my personality as a fragility because in many ways, it made me more delicate. When I am sad, my intrusive thoughts take control, I feel physically sick and heavy, and the whole world is against me.
However, I would not have started writing if I weren’t so sensitive. I would not have discovered how much I love putting down words on paper or typing them on my laptop. My best stories, poems, and articles come from moments of despair or intense joy. My ability to burst into tears watching a girl give a flower to a stranger may be inappropriate if I am watching the video in class and I suddenly start sniffling and have to reach for tissues, but it is also a priceless gift to feel so connected to humans and their emotions.
I’ll leave you with something that Lili Reinhart said in an interview with which I resonate a lot: ‘If I started out as this celestial being—just energy—and the universe or God or whoever said – hey do you want to go to Earth for an incredibly short amount of time and experience every emotion that you could possibly feel as a human? You get to have all these experiences: love, heartache, anxiety, joy, euphoria, whatever. All of it. Do you want to do that? – Yeah, I do. And so, when I’m experiencing these intense feelings, it’s like a reality check to step outside and say although this is a very painful feeling it’s quite beautiful that I have the capacity to experience it.’
And with that, to all the sensitive folks out there, have a Yellow Week.