Those who know me know me as someone who doesn’t often volunteer opinions. In the eyes of most, I could be descibed as quiet, calm, and generally on the shyer end of the spectrum.

So naturally, I’m not someone who likes to express my real feelings. I’ve always wondered why this is. Why wouldn’t I share my feelings or express my thoughts more openly?

I’ve always wondered if this is because most of my real thoughts are a lot harder to parse out than surface-level opinions. My real thoughts are often easily mistaken as negative or anxious or are the types of thoughts that people usually don’t want to talk about casually at the proverbial work water cooler. Modern life doesn’t really give us many places to express thoughts and feelings like this, so it’s easier to bury them than to do the work of finding shared spaces to express them.

Social media isn’t that space either. Modern social media has actually become the opposite of a space to share real, genuine feelings. It’s a space to project the doctored and presentable sides of ourselves, not the other less-presentable sides. The things that are less presentable get pushed even further out of view.


As I push these things further out of view, I feel like I embrace a misconception that to acknowledge any type of imperfections or anxiety within myself is a blatant admission of weakness, or worse still, a flatulent plea for attention. We live in a world in which our perceptions of both ourselves and those around us are mediated by the carefully sketched identities we’ve crafted for ourselves and projected out into the digital world. All evidence of those disappointing aspects of myself has been wiped clean, hidden far away from the light of my public and/or professional persona. On the one hand, it makes sense why I would do this. It’s much easier, not to mention much more enjoyable, to keep others’ attention on the light-hearted aspects of life. Friends, interests, and good times – the things we’d all rather talk about. And for good reason. After all, they make for better stories and certainly better appearances. Why on earth would I bring up the things that no one wants to talk about anyway?

But I think there, lost beneath the noise of self-assurances, lies a subtle turn. It seems obvious that focusing on the good is much better than dwelling on the bad, but in assuming this to be self-evidently true, I leave the question unanswered. Why would I talk about those less savory aspects of my life? Avoidance of the question isn’t a satisfactory answer. If it were, why does the anxiety in question never seem to fully leave me? Despite my best attempts to push away the feelings I don’t like, they remain my persistant companions, never fully articulated yet never fully absent.

Faced with the reality of their companionship, I wonder if I might discover that they, in fact, serve some purpose. Contrary to what my pain-averse self tells e, maybe the things I label under the banner of “negative or anxious thought” aren’t quite so useless. I wonder if I choose to voice these forgotten parts of myself, if I elevate these thoughts from second-rate citizens, would I realize that they are much more a part of my identity than the shallow shell I keep on the surface.

Finding Space Again

So what is role of these deeper, more intimate thoughts when they’re relegated away from public discourse?

At some point, I’d like to find a space for genuine conversation again. I’d like to have room to share feelings of uncertainty and anxiousness and all the other things I usually banish away from public view. I have a hunch that others share more of these feelings than I often think. It almost seems like there’s a collective craving for these types of conversations and interactions. Somehow, we need to find space again.