Today’s guest post is brought to us by the beautiful April from Tales Of Night Creatures – a wonderful blog of ‘Short stories, poetry, fiction and thinkpieces for the witching hour’. You will see from the first paragraph down below how talented she is and I am truly honoured to have her contribute to my series of ‘Too…’ posts ❤
“Having or showing strong feelings or opinions.”
I often feel, while I’m here trying to be authentic and open and compassionate, focusing on my vision and making things better… that people find it too much, too intense. That I’m too much myself, and that’s a bad thing.
Being too intense means it’s wrong to care about things a lot, to be conscientious or want to make things better, to do a job thoroughly and well.
To have feelings about things and want to express them properly. Or to have passions and interests and pursuits that aren’t mainstream, or which focus on issues or big picture stuff, or that mean you talk about true things and it’s not socially acceptable.
To have strong feelings and to express them can be too intense. As a writer, this ability is somewhat necessary. To translate the emotional inner life into language which can express and resonate with another human being, in a performative act of empathic connection- this is powerful on the page.
In real life, people don’t like it very much.
Feeling strongly about something can be empowering. It incites action, momentum, change. I trust the intensity of my instincts and feelings to give me important information about people and situations. I trust the authenticity of my passions to enable me to act accordingly with my values and to sometimes act on behalf of others, who otherwise may not have a voice or advocate.
However, this doesn’t always translate well. A milder response may be amusement at my animated reaction, or befuddlement. Sometimes people can glaze over and look bored or change the subject. And occasionally it can be met with derision or hostility. This is hard if it comes from those whose opinion we value.
It leads to feeling ashamed, of being too much or too intense. It was stupid to care, and it was stupid to talk about it. My self-talk becomes critical and harsh, my mood plummets and I become very upset. This upset, of course, is deemed disproportionate and too intense for the cause.
Being labelled “too intense” is shameful, because it means you have been labelled as unacceptable, you have overstepped your prescribed boundaries of status. As sensitive types, we self-regulate and monitor and keep ourselves in check, dreading this censure. To be too intense is to possess too much feeling in a world priding itself on its logic, control and detachment from nature. It is excessive, coded feminine or weak, not always valued.
When you act from a place of authenticity, sensitivity and passion, you tend to think and feel very much about what you’re doing and saying, and whether this is in alignment with your truth. You question everything, because you notice and feel everything, and you want to make things better, because things being the way they are is not acceptable if that means others are disadvantaged or in pain. Somehow, maintaining a façade, or petty matters of convention, don’t seem to matter as much.
And because you very much want to make things better, or to make others feel better, you propel yourself forward into situations and conversations where you’re pushing the boundaries of what others want to think and feel about.
This isn’t about pushing or enforcing a dogma onto other people, or being controlling; it’s about maybe being really enthusiastic about the environment so that you instigate recycling initiatives at your workplace, litter pick on the way home and gently but consistently talk to others about ways to cut down on plastic waste.
Or feeling so strongly about trans and non-binary rights that you firmly but politely challenge hateful speech and jokey transphobia socially, share petitions and go to march at Pride with a transgender youth group.
It’s about feeling so acutely that something needs to be done to help others or to make things better, you can’t help acting. Even if the cost is misunderstanding or being judged.
Being too intense can be synonymous with being too sensitive. Taking things deeply to heart, considering the weight and import of conversations and interactions, or communicating honestly about those feelings and thoughts can be too much for a fair number of people.
I would like to challenge them by asking why.
With current mental health statistics demonstrating that many of us are negotiating dark and painful territory, often in isolation, talking about our true feelings can be a release.
In relationships, communicating honestly and openly can alleviate many issues. And, from experience, it can save time right from the beginning to be bravely honest and expressive about what you want and need in romantic relationships. This doesn’t necessarily mean a declaration of love, but in terms of values and behaviour and boundaries you have or desire or will accept. And being true to who you are and what matters to you will attract like minded kindred spirits, and repel those who wouldn’t fit well anyway.
Having intense feelings and empathy for others fuels us to acts of compassion and kindness. The art we create is rooted in this capacity to feel as others do, the caring professions we work in are motivated by the desire to alleviate pain and ease discomfort, the social causes and charities we support soar when we act from a place of love and respect for others.
Our ethics and values which respect the lives and well-being and wholeness of other beings arise from both our emotional empathy and our earnest belief in those feelings as possessing worth and substance.
Maybe, for some, I will always be too intense. Or too serious, or sensitive. That’s okay, because to reclaim these as positive characteristics is to repurpose their place in making our world and our lives a better place.