Wearing my heart on my sleeve

October 3, 2017


I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been told I’m too sensitive. While I disagree with the excessiveness that the word “too” implies (which is like saying I’m “too Morgan”), I do acknowledge that I am sensitive.

I vividly remember crying on the first day of school in third grade because my crayons fell out of the wrong side of the box.

Still, today, tears remain my defense mechanism.

As badly as I want to appear tough when I’ve had my feelings deeply hurt or I’m frustrated, the best I can manage is an audibly shaky voice and some tears.

In an attempt to survive in this sometimes ruthless world, I decided I needed to make efforts to harden up; after a little introspection, I noticed a theme to my tears.

They could all be traced back to one source: me.

I am the self-branded queen of expectations who is addicted to the almost inevitable letdown.

In third grade, I had expected my crayons to stay in their rightful place, yet they fell out the other side, letting me down.

 Today — when I have much more at stake in life — I expect people to be decent and situations to go smoothly and when they don’t I stew in my self-made disappointment and heartache.

So what’s a girl to do?

Well, I’ve come to understand the trouble with my expectations is that I am the only variable I can control. I could not control my crayons, and since mind control is unfortunately not yet in my realm of expertise, I cannot control people.

Thus led to my “aha” moment: I can cure my sensitivity, by ceasing to expect. It sounds beautiful and poetic. It also sounds entirely unrealistic, but, dang it, I was going to try.

As a laissez-faire approach to life, I started making conscious efforts to halt my mind once it started to get carried away concocting any sort of insane travel plans, or trying to preplan conversations with friends in my head or imagining any sort of scenario playing out largely in my favor.

I suppose I was trying to achieve that current trend of having a “frozen heart” or “black soul” that people seem to brag about as if it’s proof of being further along on the evolutionary ladder.

Through my efforts, I did notice success in achieving my goal of hardening up and shaking off my sensitivity, but with that achievement also came unforeseen side effects like a sense of detachment and lack of investment.

It is difficult to nourish any sort of relationship or project if I’m not imagining (and convincing my sometimes-delusional self) the best possible outcome. While I didn’t feel as let down when things did not go my way, I also did not feel as satisfied when things did.

That’s not a fair trade-off. I would rather feel everything strongly than mildly at best.

So, I decided to ditch my efforts at hardening up and instead tattooed the most cliché symbol on my wrist: a heart, as a reminder to wear my heart on my sleeve.

Through this fruitless endeavor of toughening up, I have come to see and appreciate my strength as the ability to remain vulnerable and sensitive and continue to expect really great things in a world that has and will let me down again and again.

If it lets me down ten times, the eleventh just might be different.

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