This is one of the most up-to-date pieces I’ve published here.
Most of the pieces I’ve written lately had been in my brain for a while. I’ve had to let the sauce thicken, develop the film, let the bread rise, and other metaphors to say, I’ve given it some thought.
In the last book I read, “The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter–And How to Make the Most of Them, the author started her epilogue with:
“Don’t write a book unless you can’t not write it,” a colleague warned.
That’s usually my train of thought as well, especially with lengthy articles:
- Am I adding value to the conversation?
- Does this need to be said? Or does this bear repeating?
- Should I be the one writing this?
- Will my readers feel betrayed by the end of the article, like they wasted their time or energy reading?
- Am I ready to write this?
Unless I have clear answers to those questions, I stay silent.
I haven’t written at length about some topics that are very important to me because they’re also very delicate. Can I handle them at this point, without rambling or getting angry? Since I’m not sure, I choose silence.
The issues I’ve written about lately—about education and university, about majors and psychology, about choosing the right job and action bias even—have been in my mind for a while. They’re things my loved ones and I have been talking about for quite some time.
Today’s story comes fresh out of the oven, from today.
Part 4 of my series was supposed to come out today (My series! Look at me, all series-y and shit), but I’m now redirecting to my last resort: today’s events, thoughts, and anger.
This is what I feel like writing today, about a simple, yet for some reason, severely misunderstood distinction.
I’m not sad, I’m angry.
Woah, woah, woah, what happened?!
Nothing even remotely important, but isn’t the devil in the details?
A few weeks back, my friend mentioned that other people’s opinions were affecting her more than she’d like and she asked if I had any book recommendations.
I’m not a people pleaser. If anything, I rarely find myself trying not to piss people off, to please everyone, or spend time thinking about why someone said what they said, what others think of me, how they perceive me, etc.
Sometimes though, I find myself doing things for others that they didn’t ask me to. This is most times well appreciated, but sometimes, like today, it isn’t.
How it started
When I have a lot on my plate, I write on Sunday, to publish on Sunday. It’s not a fail-proof method I know, I’m working on it.
This week I had a lot on my plate, and here I was, writing on Sunday.
Before I started writing, I spent an hour and a half arranging something nice for someone’s business, without running it by them beforehand. I was happy to finalize it and get on with writing, but that didn’t go as planned.
They had another idea for what they fancied, actually, they wanted something else completely.
My dilemma (not to be mistaken with Nelly’s and Kelly’s)
After wasting an hour and a half, that went unappreciated as well, clearly, I wasn’t in the mood to write about, you know, how to make a real difference in your job.
Even though I’m not a people pleaser, there’s this thing I do for the people I love. I expect as much as I give, how I give it.
The thing is, I was projecting.
- I liked it, so they should too.
- I’m passionate about this, so if they suggest any edits, they should be minor.
- My precious Sunday time was spent doing this, so they should appreciate it.
Don’t do a disservice to yourself by mistaking anger with sadness
Anger is often mistaken for sadness. It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyhow, especially on women.
Sadness is so… subjective too. It’s easier for the other person to blame your emotional state, to claim they didn’t do anything wrong, that you’re the hypersensitive one.
When I was a teen, and even in my baby twenties (just made that up), I struggled with being unable to adequately formulate my rightful anger into words but instead I turned to visible sadness or tears.
This was a vicious cycle, as you can imagine.
Someone would wrong me or hurt me, then my sadness would become the main topic of the conversation, and we wouldn’t talk about the shitty thing that had just happened. Fun.
“There is a distinction between aloneness and loneliness. Aloneness is a state; loneliness is a sad feeling about that state.”– Julia Bainbridge on The Joyful, Messy, Sometimes Lonely Uncertainty of Pursuing a Creative Life
It wasn’t until I was able to stand up for myself that I stopped feeling lonely and started loving the power of being alone with my favorite person, myself.
Crying can be healthy, of course. As the saying goes, “Sunshine all the time makes a desert.” Being happy 100% of the time isn’t feasible. It’s not even a goal worth attaining. But like I said, learning to tell my sadness and anger apart made a huge difference.
As far as negative assumptions go, every day we’re confronted with an abundance of negative information (if we chose to engage with it): what we’re doing wrong, what we could be doing differently, how different our lives would be if only we’d done X thing or followed Y’s path.
There’s shame and blame surrounding this, even for trauma, as Dr. Brene Brown mentions:
“When something shaming happens, time slows down. Our rational mind abandons us. We become the children we once were.”
It’s easier to manipulate and gaslight when sadness is at play, when—as is so often said about us women, the strongest beings on the planet—we “let emotions get in the way.”
This has some dark undertones, even though I have fuzzy feelings. That’s the thing sometimes, with writing, you don’t end up where you envisioned.
Telling you about it
As someone in the healthiest, most passionate and beautiful relationship, I struggle to find pieces that fully encompass how I feel about my better half and our connection.
Whereas… The title is self-explanatory, and the piece How To Read Your Way Out Of Breakup Hell a great read. At least the only good fucking thing about toxic relationships and heartbreak is there are a lot of resources to help you get back on your feet.
“There is tremendous relief in seeing your feelings or story expressed in written form.”– Dr. Carrie Barron, psychiatrist and Director of Creativity for Resilience Program at Dell Medical School and the author of The Creativity Cure.
The relief you feel when seeing your stories written down, when you “read your feelings”, a lot of times is that first or second step, already pointing you in the right direction.
Today, I did something I couldn’t afford, wasted time. I meant well, but I should’ve known better. I also couldn’t not take it personally because my time was affected.
Both my mistakes. Or are three in there?
Call it anger, drive, flow
Sadness can be healthy and anger can be toxic, I know and I’m not referring to that.
Sadness can be seen as an emotional flaw, a faux pas, a wrongfully constructed idea in your mind. Anger and injustice are act upon-able, yes just made that word up.
Someone else involved thanked me for what I’d done. The whole thing wasn’t a big deal at all. At all.
Yet I wanted to explain “I’m not sad about the work, or the interaction. I’m angry at the lost time I could’ve used to write, and my help that was uncalled for, that I should’ve given another day when I could “afford” to make it a priority, making it easier for both parties to be happy with the final result.”
Anger might not be the right word, but sadness isn’t even in the same realm. Call it anger, drive, flow, passion for rightfulness, but don’t let the wording throw you off.
Healthy anger is act-upon-able
Anger is act upon-able. I could’ve gone into a downward spiral, thinking of my work, help, the relationship itself, I could’ve simply not have found the words to write. People are allowed to be pissed from time to time, right?
I chose to get my shit together and call it a lesson learned.
This is another story that had been cooking up inside me, wanting to burst out and be written, that I would’ve had no idea of if it weren’t for this.
Deadlifts and conclusions
In his book “Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder,” Nassim Nicholas Taleb makes this interesting point:
“When I deadlift (i.e., mimic lifting a stone to waist level) using a bar with three hundred and thirty pounds, then rest, I can safely expect that I will build a certain amount of additional strength as my body predicts that next time I may need to lift three hundred and thirty-five pounds.”
I’m turning this “Do you even lift bro?” moment into an analogy.
The more you’re willing to (healthily) push your limits, the more you’re unfazed by BS, the less you allow it to affect you.
You deadlift to build strength–well, to increase it in Nassim’s case, 330 pounds man, what?–and you move on, no matter how annoyed or disappointed or angry or sad you are, so that next time you need to move, you can waste less time being annoyed or disappointed or angry or sad.
It means: Choosing to move instead of wallow. Choosing growth instead. And sometimes choosing the uncomfortable, so the next uncomfortable step brings you two steps closer to growth.
I’m not sad, I’m angry. Well, I was. Now I’m feeling super fly.