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taking things personally {self-portrait challenge}

liz lamoreux


When I was in high school I had a journal that had quotes from women throughout the pages. I often think about this one:

Women are repeatedly accused of taking things personally. I cannot see any other honest way of taking them.
Marya Mannes

It struck me then, and it strikes me now. That quote felt like a literal self reflection. There is a scene in You’ve Got Mail where Tom Hanks’ character says, “It’s not personal; it’s business.” And Meg Ryan’s character talks about how people say that, but if it is anything, it is personal. Life is personal.

I think people consider me someone who is emotional. I take things personally. I think this is one of my best qualities. Yep. I admit it. I love that I am emotional. I don’t mean dramatic (though I am quite sure I have my moments). No, I mean someone who isn’t afraid of feeling. Someone who admits to having emotions and feeling them.

I spend a lot of time sifting through my own “stuff,” the guts of life. The insecurities and past stuff. I sift and peel back and move through. As I do this I uncover, you guessed it, a lot of emotion.

When you are someone who sifts through things a lot, you become aware of your triggers. Why do I feel this way when someone does ____? Why am I angry about _____? Why do I feel like crying in certain moments? What is all of this really about? These are questions I am always asking myself.

The introspective me wants to know the answers. But the emotional me sometimes invites a feeling of searching for the answers through a bit of fog.

Last week was a week where several things collided at once. Just when I thought, “okay, I can figure this out,” I was hit from another side with something else. Over and over again. And even though I received support from some dear friends through this, the emotional me got a bit caught up in it all. And the “stuff” I uncovered began to cloud…well…everything.

I felt like I was on one of those rides at the fair. The one where it starts out slow, moving in a circle over a few little hills, but then it gets faster and faster and the music playing gets louder and louder. And you can’t stop it. When I was in, maybe, second grade, my father took a friend and me on one of those rides. I screamed the entire time. I kept begging my dad to wave to the guy to let him know I wanted to get off. The terror actually bubbles up a bit just thinking about that experience. A total loss of control.

It is a delicate balance. The emotional and the self-reflective. You have to check in with yourself, take your temperature, to figure out what is really going on. Because, the reality is, you are the only one who knows. You are the only one who understands why you choose to react the way you do. And figuring that out is hard enough.

Imagine if you start attempting to figure out why everyone else is doing what they are doing? Well, that can start to get really messy, especially because they are the only ones who can know. And they might not be in a place to really understand this.

Sometimes I wonder how we have any relationships at all. Truly. How do we ever successfully communicate with another person when we have a hard enough time communicating with ourselves? But, I believe relationships are part of the beauty of our time here. Connecting. Feeling. Finding our way through the emotional connections we have with others, this is a big piece of the journey.

Perhaps nestling into a life full of emotion can cause one to feel a bit blurry at times. But I think this is what we do: We make a commitment to feel, really feel deeply, so that we can live in our lives.

(to see other reflections on imperfection visit self-portrait challenge.)