Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Hide your happiness

Why is it so hard to write about happiness? Right now, I'm getting ready to go home to sunny California for the summer. My work is dying down and there are a ton of great prospects on the horizon in the next few weeks. But I can't seem to articulate this lest I wish to bore myself and others.

It's especially strange because so often when I feel strong emotions, happy or sad, I become anxious to share them in any way I know how. To hold in powerful feelings is to feel trapped inside a bubble. All that exists is a reflection of yourself on the convex walls, and a distorted view of the world around, tainted by your perception of life through your happiness. Everything is somehow brighter and more pleasant and silly.

When I'm sad, I'm terrifically prolific. Almost to a fault, actually. I go outside on cold days and sit on a bench where I compose poetry or write emotional prose about the state of my heart. Granted, who doesn't look for an outlet for sadness? There's nothing that presses on your soul more, begging for release, than negative thoughts.

I've been known - to myself, I guess, because I don't usually share this with people - to write angry or depressing "love" poetry. When I'm feeling lonely, I retreat to the page to spill my thoughts and my feelings. Sometimes this is because it's the best outlet for my angst, sometimes it's because no one other than my pen will tolerate my whining.

But when things turn around, I no longer feel compelled to share and that's something I don't understand. In elementary school, my diary was filled with happy-go-lucky stories about how I learned to blow a bubble out of bubblegum or went to a play with my mom. But as I grew up, the events of my life came secondary to the internal musings.

I wish I could better reconcile the two.

Because events tend to be fun and musings tend to consist of extended periods of brooding thought, it's only natural that the second takes precedence in the art of writing. So much of literary composition is about being alone with your thoughts and expressing yourself in the most dramatic way. You can only go so far expressing your feelings for bubblegum blowing. Sure, it's an accomplishment, but how does it compare to being heartbroken? The latter is so nebulous and sad that you can't help but drone on about it. The former is so fleeting that there's not much more to be said than an exclamation of pride.

Where do the happy feelings go, then, if not into my poetry journal or onto my blog?

The problem is that there really isn't much of an outlet for them anywhere. At least not for me. When I'm happy that a boy likes me or that I have a great internship offer or something else, my only way to express the excitement is to tell people.

In this case, my writing is useless. Just as in writing film reviews, consistent positivity doesn't reflect well on the author. It seems immature and unsubstantiated. You need to mix in a bit of cynicism or you don't sound honest.

But cynicism isn't always an indicator of honesty, so why do I only feel compelled to share things if they involve me portraying an unhappy view of the world?

Even in real life, talking about exciting experiences and prospects gets old. Like those moments when I have to hold back my rants on sadness to avoid annoying my friends, I also have to avoid going on and on about my happiness.

The problem is that no one wants to know too much of one steady emotion. It's nice to see a couple embrace or hold hands, but once it becomes a bigger expression of love - whatever that means (kissing? something more than that which I don't feel like thinking or writing about?) - we purposely avert our eyes.

We do the same with how we handle the emotions of others. For a time, we'll listen attentively, bask in their pleasure or commiserate with their pain. But after enough time has passed, and we've heard quite enough, we force them into secrecy along with our waning interest.

Maybe I face this problem because I talk too much about what I'm feeling. That, coupled with the heart I wear on my sleeve, makes me a fragile personality.

I just wish I could use this space to express my happiness (the kind I don't feel fully comfortable talking about incessantly) in the same way that I share my sadness (that no one else feels comfortable with me sharing). But I guess no medium of expression is perfect.

I may never feel secure enough to spend an entire blog post gloating. I know people who do it: those who write about their travels or their wonderfully happy lives. They pretend they can find no fault in the world and that everything is sunshine and daisies. While I don't subscribe to this fa├žade, sometimes it's nice to just have sunshine and daisies. You shouldn't have to hide your happiness.

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