It's such an amazing, complex mystery as to how emotions work.
When you're alone, when you isolate yourself from any (well, at least most) emotional stimuli, you have the power to exert a strong mental influence on your emotions. You can rationalize, think things through, and try to direct how you feel. It doesn't always work, and it's very, very easy to pass up the opportunity or decide it's too hard. But in a calm environment, the mind can guide the heart, and through willpower you can work on being emotionally how you want to be. And as a result, I'm quite pleased with my summer, and I think I made some major emotional breakthroughs.
Coming back to school has been neither as difficult and unpleasant as I feared in August when I looked to it with dread, nor as easy and joyful as I anticipated in the days before I left Maryland. There have been so many forces pushing from all sides, playing on my emotions, even in the simple realities of everyday life with other people. It just isn't nearly so easy to have mastery over your emotions and remain tranquil as it was when there was nothing to disrupt the calm.
In fact, I find myself reacting to all sorts of things as reflex, being filled with emotions because I'm used to responding in certain ways. I'll be overflowing with these feelings before my mind catches up to me and gently reminds me, "Hey, didn't we decide that it didn't make sense to feel this way? Hasn't such-and-such changed since you used to respond to this in this manner? Haven't you reevaluated your priorities?" At which point, I generally answer with a strong, "Yes!", pull myself together, and move calmly on. Until, of course, the next time I respond to something with strong emotions in spite of myself, but catching myself a little earlier this time.
I feel like surely sooner or later I'll defeat these habits altogether. I mean, for my entire life, I've been emotionally oversensitive. I can't exactly expect that it'll magically disappear altogether after coming back to school this fall. But while I'm not as calm and happy as I was at home, I'm really more imperturbable than I've ever been at school. And that's really, really important. I mean, yes it's good that I'm really able to handle being alone for maybe the first time ever without obsessing or even thinking much about other people. But that's not worth much if it means I always want to hole myself away and not deal with people. Luckily I'm moving past that.
I have this odd sense that I'm remaking myself, even though I doubt that anyone can see the effects from the outside. I just feel like I'm growing, maturing, or, at the very least, changing. Oh, make no mistake, I've got a very long way to go, and I suspect there will always be things I'll want to work on. But at least I'm making progress, instead of constantly studying and cataloging my faults, then getting depressed about the problems and wondering if I'll ever change.
I sometimes wonder if it's a problem that I put so much energy and effort into thinking about myself. It seems awfully selfish and self-involved in many ways. But on the other hand, I don't think it's necessarily something that takes away from my concerns about other people and problems. I think that in the long run, I'm never going to be able to do what I want to do with my life unless I'm happy. Maybe that's just me trying to justify it, but it seems to make sense.
meantime, I'll try to exert some control over the maelstrom of my emotions,
pushing the limits and discovering just how much power my conscious mind
has over my heart. I'll tell you one thing: it's a lot easier when you
stop telling yourself that your feelings are inevitable.
27 September, 2002
Intellectual Property Rights denounced by Britt Gordon-McKeon, 2002