" I’ve always felt strong physical manifestations of my emotions. When I’m happy, I actually feel like my heart is going to burst and when I’m hurt, my chest feels like it’s being tightly squeezed. I’m a highly emotional person, and that defines how I think, react, and interact with people. My parents said that I was an expressive child, which they perceived as me having a high EQ even when others saw it as me being hyper or crying too often.
Still, growing up I never felt like I was “too much”. But this started to change when I became a teenager. I started to realize that my friends in school were more reserved, while I felt a constant need to share and show how I felt - often as intensely as I felt it.
All my friends and peers seemed to hold it together more than I could. I would start tearing up if I was pulled up in class, or if I was arguing with a friend. I never understood how people could hide their emotions; it frustrated and confused me because I failed at it. At that age, being emotional was considered a sign of weakness and I subsciously internalized all the jokes and comments I had heard about me (and other girls) crying too easily or being too affectionate.
My emotions felt like a burden, and I started to hold myself back to fit in better. I clearly remember how stifling that felt. Even well-meaning friends reinforced this notion, often responding to my emotional outbursts with a “chill out, don’t be crazy”. I didn't know how to tell people that I wasn't “crazy”, I just felt my emotions at a much higher intensity.
We throw around terms like “extra”, “over the top” and “dramatic” so easily, but we rarely stop to think about what could be going through that person's mind, and why they express themselves the way they do.
It was only when I went to college that I started to fully embrace my emotions - and it was so freeing. I finally met people who expressed themselves like I did, and the solidarity was empowering. I now take pride in knowing myself better and refusing to compromise on who I am just because I’m worried I'll be labeled.
And if being true to how I feel makes me dramatic and extra, bring on the labels! When it comes to friends and partners, I am open and honest about how I feel all the time, and I'm lucky to have a support system that doesn't judge me and my quirks.
It took me a long time to stop being afraid to ask for what I need emotionally, and even now I hold myself back sometimes. It’s easier said than done, but it’s so important to be patient and honest with yourself.
I still feel like a work in progress, but I know that no matter what, I am enough."