written by alison

I love discovering videos that cause a physical reaction in the short span of a few minutes. This gem falls into that category.

Since watching it, I’ve been thinking about sympathy vs empathy and the overall concept of the video. As someone with big emotions, I’ve been told the plus side is that it is easier for me to understand how others are feeling. I believe that since I feel all emotions on a heightened level, it’s easier for me to recall a time when I felt similarly.

But the connection shared with someone else comes from a willingness to listen and set my drama aside. No talk about silver linings, no “this is what I did when I went through that,” and certainly no oral diarrhea about my problems as soon as they stop to take a breath. Maybe because I know that is what would make me feel better. Maybe because I feel emotions on a big scale. Or maybe it’s a combination of both.

After stewing on the concept of emotions + being a support system for a little while, I got to a related tangent – playing emotional chicken. That moment when you and someone else are waiting for the other to make an emotional move, whether they know they are playing or not.

For example, being sad and wanting to reach out to someone about your feelings but waiting for them to ask you how you are doing. As though waiting for someone to ask the question “how are you” is going to make it ok for you to open up a floodgate of emotion into your personal struggles. Odds are that simply starting with “I could use a few moments of listening from someone right now” would get you feeling better much faster. I guess we all know that when you are down, it’s hard to see logic.

However, emotional chicken goes further than that. I’ve heard chatter about those that wait for someone they really like to make the first move, when all they want is to see what kissing that individual is like. (Guilty as charged.) This is pretty common among females because of the tradition that men should make the first move. I have no doubt that there are guys that would dig knowing a lady is interested because she planted a kiss on him after their date. Guessing games aren’t fun when it comes to feelings and personal stuff.

To me, it’s almost like we wait for permission when playing this game. We wait for someone else to give us the go ahead to be sad, crazy, physical, angry, overwhelmed, etc. Instead of embracing what is happening in our minds or hearts, we put the effort into shaping it or forming it into something we can label. Or better yet, something we can make an excuse for.

What would happen instead if we let ourselves exist, as is, without fear of being wrong/right/dramatic/hurt/accepted? What if when you needed a shoulder to cry on, you called up your friend? What if when you got so angry you wanted to destroy everything in your vicinity, you spent a few minutes destroying one item that is easily replaced? What if when you were attracted to someone, you told them?

I’d like to think that your friend would listen, you’d feel better without having a house full of damaged belongings and a second or third date lined up. However, in order to get there, you’d have to be vulnerable and honest, a tough combination.