The Heart of the Matter

I’ll never forget the very first time someone called me sensitive. I was nine years old and in the middle of the biggest argument with one of my friends. Though I can’t for the life of me remember the point of conflict, I know it was exaggerated and the fight was entirely unnecessary. Nevertheless, we both wanted to win. We were hurling insults and witty retorts back and forth with blinding speed until she said something that guaranteed the win: “Oh my gosh, you are so sensitive!”

I immediately broke down crying and ran out of the room; which, upon later reflection, only supported her case. I remember thinking that it couldn’t be true because being sensitive meant that you were weak. I vowed to myself then and there, I would do everything in my power to never be called sensitive again. 

Flash forward a couple years and I learned what it actually means to be sensitive. However, I never forgot that incident with my friend and always remained a little guarded. I continued to use logic to govern my decisions and reactions to situations as best I could. I wanted to be the girl that wore her heart on her sleeve, but I feared the lack of security that could lead to easy ridicule by others. 

I started to detach from this guarded mentality during my senior year of high school. My best friend had just gone off to college, I was struggling to balance schoolwork with filling out college applications and I felt drained of creativity because of my extracurriculars. Logic, my constant companion since that fateful fight, told me that I should be fine and able to handle all of these obstacles with ease; but I couldn’t. 

Eventually, I facetimed my best friend one night and we broke down over the phone, talking about how fast our lives changed and how much we missed each other. It was in the middle of this sob fest that I realized how much better I felt talking about my feelings. I realized that giving in to your emotions can ultimately make you happier and enable you to establish closer relationships with others because you’re more attuned to their feelings. 

From that point on, I tried to be more candid about my own feelings. I followed my heart when it told me to come to Wake and was more honest with others about how their actions affected me. And did it end in total disaster? Nope! In fact, I noticed that my relationships deepened as my friends started to come to me when they wanted to have sincere conversations about their situations and feelings. 

I knew I wanted to continue this new mindset during my freshman year but was once again afraid of the complete vulnerability I would have because of it. It was one thing back home where I was comfortable in my environment, but everything was new at Wake. At first, I struggled to let down the borders at times because I kept slipping into the negative view of being transparent with your emotions. I worried that people would avoid me because they thought I was “too delicate” to be their friend. 

However, I soon realized how much I missed the genuine conversations that came with following my heart. So, I can’t say that it has always been easy, but listening to and following my emotions has led to some of the most amazing relationships — not just in college but in my life — including my relationship with myself. It may have taken me a little bit to figure out that society was wrong about sensitivity being a weakness, but now that I know I will always wear my heart on my sleeve.