Tag Archives: emotions

Gut Memory

My brother recently got into the TV show Chuck. The rest of us watched the show years ago when it aired. A few weeks ago, my sister walked into the living room during an episode where a new character gets introduced and exclaimed, 

“Shaw! I hate him.”

“Why?” asked my bewildered brother.

“I don’t remember,” she said. “I just know I do.”

I was upstairs and overheard the conversation. And as soon as she said Shaw, I knew I hated him too. Vehemently. But like my sister, I could not tell you anything specific about his character. He probably comes between the main couple or something. I don’t know what he looks like. I do know the name evokes negative emotions. 

I call it gut memory because it is like a gut instinct,  but based off some vague, forgotten memory. 

It happened to me again yesterday. I was reading a book from a series I used to love as a kid. The neighbor girl comes over in the book and the minute I read her name, I knew I cordially disliked her. But at least based on this book, I had no reason to! She befriends the heroine and they have adventures. I could not determine why I felt animosity, only that my gut memory told me she was no good. 

(I looked it up, and later in the series she tries to come between the main couple. I am noticing a theme for why I hate certain characters.) 

I find it fascinating how the brain remembers things. Just like a smell can evoke a specific memory, an emotion can last towards a specific person (even a fictional one!) long after you consciously remember why you feel that way. 

In Which I Attempt to Rebel With Heavy Metal

Me: “I am listening to heavy metal to assuage my angry feelings.”

Friend: “I’m trying to think of a way to ask what a Homeschooler considers heavy metal without sounding condescending…” 

Me: “Good question. I typed “metal” into Spotify and am listening to something with lots of yelling. I can’t understand any of the words.”

Friend: “You are officially a grandma.”

*5 minutes later*

Me: “My ears really hurt.” 

Unhappy v. Depressed

I live in the default emotion of Happy. You’ll notice it is not the more low-key happy, but neither is it the super hyper HAPPY. I can get to HAPPY. Similarly, I can get to happy, and maybe angry or sad. (Rarely ANGRY or SAD, though.) Generally, though, I am a Happy person. So when I start feeling unhappy, it really freaks me out. Because if I’m unhappy, well, the world is obviously coming to an end. No other plausible explanation exists. (Usually I know I’m being melodramatic.) 

But I’ve been learning lately that even if I am being melodramatic, I need to be careful with the words I use, even to myself. It is far too easy to say ‘I am depressed’ when what I really mean is, ‘I am unhappy.’ And that is a dangerous correlation. The words you tell yourself become how you think about yourself. 

Law school is hard and often makes me unhappy. But if I keep telling myself ‘law school makes me depressed’ I place myself (1) in a category I don’t belong and (2) in a dangerous mental place. Unhappy changes with the flicker of my mood. Depressed easily becomes an identity. 

Maybe it is our society, maybe it is the nature of being human, but we live in a world where people expect you to be happy. We don’t deal well with sadness or anger or melancholy. We don’t know how to react to it. So if you feel those emotions, you automatically label them ‘bad’ and try to move on. Now in saying this, I don’t want to belittle true depression. Nor do I want to imply that trying to move on is bad. What I mean to say is that in my own life, whenever my mood shifts from Happy to Literally Anything Else, I feel like something wrong happened and I obsess until it changes. 

But life is not always good. Stress is not always healthy. ‘Happy’ is not everybody’s default. And even if it is your default, that doesn’t mean you don’t experience other emotions. Sometimes, I think it is okay to just be…unhappy. 

Unhappy may equal unhealthy. But if every time I feel melancholic I jump to, ‘Oh no, I’m in a really unhealthy mental state!’ I fail to appreciate the power of melancholy. Or sadness. Or happy. Or unhappy. 

Emotions play an important role in shaping who we are and how we view our surroundings. But our surroundings are not always happy, and it is okay to acknowledge that and live in unhappy for a time. Unhappy may become depressed, but in my life it hasn’t, and if I keep telling myself it has, I lose the power to appreciate unhappy. Or respect true depression. When I think only ‘Happy’ with occasional ‘happy’ is okay, I lose the wealth of nuance and emotion that comes with being human and having emotions.

God gave us emotions for a reason. He experiences emotion. When Jesus was on earth, he wept. He grieved. He got angry. He rejoiced. He did not remain happy all the time but embraced a range of feelings. If Jesus embraced his emotions, why do I feel like I cannot?

It is not that I like being unhappy. It feels heavy and empty. But unhappy will change. My identity is not unhappy. Neither is my identity Happy. My identity is human created in the image of God.  Which is easy to say but hard to live. 

Law school often makes me unhappy. And sometimes it makes me Happy. Even, upon occasion, I’ve reached HAPPY. But law school is not me. The emotions are not me. This is what I want to tell myself when I’m sitting in my messy apartment staring at the paper that seemed so brilliant yesterday and makes no sense today. This is what I tell myself when I realize I forgot to send that follow up e-mail, thank you card, or reimbursement request. Or you know, do the reading for class in an hour. 

This is stressful. This is frustrating. This is growth. But stress and frustration and growth all exist apart from my happy or unhappy response to them. So what I really need to do is pour myself another cup of coffee, re-write that paper, and do the reading for my next class. Not wallow in misery because I’m not reacting to the stress with my usual Happy. 

To summarize: Amy, be unhappy and get stuff done because eventually you’ll be happy and have stuff done. Don’t focus on unhappy because then you are simply unhappy. And don’t tell yourself you’re depressed because you’re not. You’re just not Happy and there is a powerful difference. 

The Overabundant Emotions of Orientation

What a week it has been! 

Orientations are always a little awkward. New school, new place, new people. I find it extremely stressful. As a rule, I like people. However, the balancing act of making a good first impression (over and over and over again), while scouting potential friends and study buddies, while also attempting to find the bathroom is a little bit too much for me. By the end of the day, I’m exhausted and frustrated and convinced everything went horrendously wrong. Then I wake up the next morning and discover that the world has not, in fact, ended and that I’m energized and ready to try again. After all, it has only been 24 hours. New friends, here I come. 

But it is hard to make friends. First strangers must become acquaintances, and then acquaintances must be developed and nurtured into friends. This can take time. I want immediacy. Frustration creeps in. I start to convince myself that I am not going to make any friends, that I’m isolated…and then I remember. I only met these people 48 hours ago. I need to give it time. 

But you see, it doesn’t feel like 48 hours. It feels like a lifetime. By the end of the day I’m exhausted. I don’t want to attend the optional, evening events my classmates are attending. I don’t want to join them as they go from bar to bar. Their idea of a good time is not my idea of a good time. I start worrying that they will all bond without me but I’m just Too. Dang. Tired. to care. I need alone time to put things back into perspective. It has only been 72 hours. I have 3 years to make friends. 

And so I stress myself out. I worry that I should be more social and then I worry because I don’t want to be social. I’m tired of small talk but I want what small talk can eventually brings…deep conversations. 

How to describe orientation? Bewildering and isolating. And yet…there are those moments that make it worth it. Like exploring the library. I’m so excited about the law library. I could (and probably will!) spend hours down there. There are so many books with dry sounding titles that make my mouth water. I’m so eager to dig into legal theory and jurisprudence that it will be a struggle to prioritize my actual studies of contracts and civil procedures.  I’m not worried though. Those things fascinate me too. I’m going to take advantage of this legal education. 

The law librarians also make orientation better. They are wonderful. So are the professors I’ve met. I can’t wait for them to start keeping office hours so I can drop by and talk. It is hard to stay discouraged when I feel so confident about what I’m doing. The law is definitely the subject for me! The more I hear, the more encouraged I am. I am more and more convinced that this is exactly what I’ve been looking for. 

Friends will come. When not overtired, I’m confident in this too. It will just take time. After all, I have only known them for 4 days.

That is my week in a nutshell. Don’t worry, I’m not nearly as emotionally unstable as I sound! I’m just impatient (and prone to dramatics.) Classes start Wednesday and they are going to be awesome. Blogging is very cathartic. I remember why I used to do this every day. Hopefully you’ll be hearing from me more consistently! 

I feel naked with only one phone…

For the first time in a very long time, I no longer have two phones, two laptops, two credit cards, and a constant feeling that I’m ignoring something I should be doing for work. It is a strangely empty feeling. It isn’t like having a phantom limb as much as feeling like there is a large, empty space somewhere inside me where tension used to be. My responsibility is now gone. 

I know this is a temporary feeling and I’ll be back to work in three days, but it still surprises me. Of all the emotions I imagined, “emptiness” was not one of them. I think I might get sick. I’ve been fighting a sore throat this morning. The tension and emotions of the past few weeks have finally knocked me down and now I just want to sleep and avoid people. However, I can’t do that because there are only 3 days till I leave for the summer and people want to see me. I didn’t plan this very well! 

Oh well, enough of my whining. I’m going to take advantage of introvert time while I can and hopefully it will be enough to get me through the next few days!

A K Drama Evening (sort of)

Since I am in the middle of a couple different currently-airing Korean dramas, I decided yesterday to re-watch one. Alas, the process went something like this…

Me: I’m going to pick a favorite drama to re-watch! How hard can choosing one be? I really love Who Are YouI can re-watch that one.

Also me: But…I really love Master’s Sun, too. And Stars Falling From the Sky. And Healer. 

Me again: Why not finish one I started and stopped watching? I got too emotionally invested in I Hear Your Voice so I quit, but that was years ago. I could try that one again.

Me: If I’m going to finish a drama I got too involved in, I should finish Shut Up Flower Boy Band.

Also me: Or King 2 Hearts.

Me: *sobs internally* 

Me: Better not put myself through that. 

Me again: Start a new drama! How about the classic Shining Inheritance? Or I Am Sam. 

Also me: Finish one you quit! Finish High School King of Savvy! 

Me: Bethany hated that drama. 

Bethany: ….

Me: I’m going to go with Who Are You. There. Decision made! 

Me again: Which episode? 


Me: Obviously I’m not finding anything on DramaFever. Better check Viki. 

Repeat the above scene times 10. 

In the end, I didn’t watch anything! I went to bed. 

The struggle is real.

ENFPs & the Emo Mode

If there is one thing ENFPs like, it is self-discovery. I love reading about my personality type and if you are looking for something, Heidi Priebe writes especially great articles.  However, my favorite article hands down is Your ENFP Care And Handling User Guide And Manual. (Clink on the link to read the article.) 

Not only is this article relatable and funny (or at least I assume it is for those of you who have to live with me) but it has this marvelous paragraph under “Modes” that reads: 

Emo – Activated seemingly randomly by a large influx of emotion that your ENFP unit must withdraw and analyze in order to understand and integrate. occurs approximately one (1) out of every fifteen (15) days. Completion of this mode is often signaled by your ENFP unit announcing it has learned something new about itself.

I nearly shouted out loud when I came upon that passage. “YES! THAT IS IT!” Someone put it into words! ENFPs are the most introverted of the extroverts; we like people but we also are big on self-understanding and that takes quiet and withdrawal. Sometimes it is simply for recharging. However, at least for me, I often mentally and emotionally withdraw for a time because I feel the need to reevaluate my goals or motivation and gain some new understanding of myself. When I’ve emerged, I feel more complete and satisfied. Hence, I suppose, the “Emo Mode.” 

Since I’m a verbal processor, the process doesn’t always mean withdrawing. It sometimes involves simply talking things through with a friend. The process and result, however, are often the same. 

Anyway, in writing this I am less motivated by a desire that you all “understand” me and more by a hope that this will in turn help others understand themselves better. Sometimes, it helps just having someone else put it into words!