If you haven’t noticed already, I really like telling people how I feel.
My feelings about things have been important for as long as I’ve know. My parents are hugely receptive, sensitive, and committed to ensuring I’m heard.
Through school the common theme on my report cards and take home notes was my expressiveness and that I “liked to talk.” It’s probably one of the reasons I hated the nickname Gabby because Gabby’s like to gab and hell, I’ve already got the gift of the gab.
Likewise, my earliest misdemeanors involved me and a Sharpie marker. I’d inscribe my feelings and frequently, my name, on my bedroom walls and anything else I could get my hands on.
And I still like telling people how I feel. Why? Because it feels good.
If I feel wronged by you, I will tell you. Whether you’re one person or a corporate conglomerate, you will hear from me. My family laughs because I’m well-known to go on frequent letter writing campaigns to get companies and townships to do what I want. Or at least tell them what I think they should do. And if you wrong me as an individual, you can bet you’ll hear about it.
But I also like telling people about the good. This is the real stuff.
I was at the movies the other day and having an unplanned, large supper beforehand, I knew I couldn’t stomach a whole popcorn. But god, did I want some.
I shifted from foot to foot trying to decide while the pimpled, fresh faced kid on the other side humoured me. Exasperated I said, I just want like a handful of popcorn. That would be great.
Either I’m nice or she felt sorry for me because I am indecisive and pregnant, but she gave me a cup of popcorn.
I could have been like, awesome – thanks! But instead I was like, wow, this was so kind of you. I know I was being indecisive and you don’t have to do this thing but you did and I think that’s really cool of you. And then I used her name like a boss. (Life tip: the sweetest sound to any person is the sound of their own name.) She lit up.
I walked away elated – 1. Personal-sized popcorn and 2. I made someone happy.
It was probably weird for the person with me when I went out of my way to make a big deal out of something that wasn’t a big deal but you know what? I’m not sorry. She did something cool with the popcorn but what she really did was make me feel good. So I’m going to tell her that.
I like going out of my way because it feels good. It’s the most selfish good deed out there. And I’m hooked on it.
When I step out and point out someone’s strengths or I tell them that what they did mattered to me, it’s stepping into a vulnerable space. It can be a weird moment; I might stutter and the other person might blush. But I’ll brave it, anyway.
Braving this vulnerability gives me power. The real kind of power. Not greed or superiority. But bold mindfulness and gratitude; it’s light and love.
I like to go deeper, too. Like when people make me feel things.
Today I wrote my writing group an email. We’re a once-a-month circle who meets to review snippets of our forthcoming novels. If anything, our group is about vulnerability because the purpose of our meetings is to share our art.
It can be hard because like any craft, writing is a process and our insecurities, doubts, and fears are often left on the table for all to see.
But we go on anyway and we gently tell each other what we think of one another’s work.
Today I wrote them a note after our meeting and I gushed: I’m so thankful I have you…
As much as it is a moment of appreciation for the group, it’s also all about me. It feels so good to brave my vulnerability and tell them how I feel about them. Although they might not feel the same (or say it) — I said it anyway.
It’s the same with my Mom group. We’re a group of 9 Mom’s who became friends when our small humans were born all around the same time. We regularly gush to one another: I’m so lucky to have you all. It’s raw, real, and candid.
Every time I put myself out there and brave to express myself it’s an act of honour. Honouring my thoughts, emotions, and heart. All of me.
It’s the most selfish good deed there is. And I’ll keep doing it.
Doing good things for yourself makes you want to do more of them.
Doing good things for others makes you want to do more of them.
And so on.
And so on.
Photo Credit: Clem Onojeghuo