If Emotions Were My Friends

The six basic human emotions are: happiness, sadness, anger, surprise, disgust, fear.

Now, if these emotions were my friends, they would be personified as thus—

Happiness would be a guy—effervescent, charming, Golden Boy. Now this boy, I love having around (as does everyone else). But Happiness is not the type who likes to stay around much. He’s very popular, see, and he can’t be in all places at once. So one moment, he’s around, and the next moment he’s left the room. Everyone keeps running after him, and I used to do that, too. But lately, I’ve realized that though I love having him around, I get bothered by him, too. His presence lights up the room, but light that lingers somehow bothers me. Dark is more comforting to me; it’s quieter, it’s undemanding, and it allows me to think. And so when Happiness is not around, I don’t fret anymore, because I know there is someplace else he needs to be. He will enter the room again soon enough, but for the time being I have other friends in the room. Friends like Sadness.

Sadness would be a guy too, but a gay guy. He’s the one everyone used to avoid, but now many people are comfortable and even enjoy hanging out with because they realize it’s good for their mental health. There used to be such discrimination against him, but now more and more people have come to understand—he’s just like any other friend you can have, and if you understand him, then you can accept him. Or if you accept him, then you can understand him. Works both ways.

Anger would be a 30-year-old woman, in 6-inch stilettos and a killer (pun unintended) red dress. She’s real close with Sadness; in fact, Anger rarely comes to the party if Sadness isn’t present, too. She’s a bitch who’s prone to go out of line and be all over the room when allowed to have her way, but such behavior is usually just a protective response when her fellows aren’t faring so well—like when Happiness is upset, or when Sadness becomes impossible to understand.

emoticons as friends

Image from Flickr by A. Boros (CC BY 2.0)

Surprise would be a wide-eyed 7-year-old kid. Hanging out with him always gets my blood pumping. Sometimes he does so in a good way, like when he suddenly brings handpicked flowers from the garden to give to me, for no reason at all except the fact that he’s a kid who knows only how to give and who knows a warmth will spread in his heart when he does so. Other times, he gives my heart a 360-joule shock in a bad way, like a rude awakening upon learning he hadn’t picked the flowers off our garden, but instead stolen them from a flower shop owned by a kindly old lady who’s feeding 6 mouths out of the shop’s income. Either way, any experience with Surprise makes me feel a little more alive, and I long to see his devil-may-care smile again soon because it’s been a long time since we last saw each other.

Disgust would be a stub-nosed 4-year-old girl, always with her chin up, and eyes very selective as to what it wishes to see. She isn’t around much, though, because there are so few things we could relate with to each other. But when we do meet, the conversation is always on fire when the topic is this: injustice. (Wow, quite a 4-year-old.)

Finally, there’s Fear.

Fear would be a girl, exactly like me. A little bit awkward, a lot observant, and a tad too idealistic. At any given moment, there is a slew of thoughts cascading in her head, about things that might go wrong, things that are already wrong, and things that are currently right but are bound to go wrong. So many people are saying I should stay away from her, because she’s a lunatic. But she’s become my best friend, because I’ve learned how to deal with her. Dealing with her became a way for me to build courage, and so many other aspects of me that make me the person that I am. And so I’ve learned how to treat her not in the way of mere tolerance, no. Beyond tolerance, I’ve grown to accept her, live with her, work with her.

For the good of both of us. ♠

I decided to write this piece because this culture of self-help books and slogans and advice columns telling us to “Be happy Be happy Be happy” and “Be confident, you can do anything, do everything” has put so much pressure in many of us to be happy and confident all the time, when in reality such mentality is suffocating essential parts of our humanity and undermining our mental health.

To safeguard our mental well-being, we have to let ourselves breathe and allow ourselves to feel the entire range of human emotion, even the so-called “negative” ones. Even sadness, anger, disgust, and fear have value, and are often instrumental to our personal growth. It is only when we give ourselves permission to guiltlessly feel these emotions can we learn to fully accept them, and ultimately handle them in such a way that leads us to a holistic development of ourselves.

 After all, we wouldn’t enjoy life or grow much as individuals if we hung out with only one friend all the time. What makes us think just being happy all the time will make for a life well-lived? ♦

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6 thoughts on “If Emotions Were My Friends

  1. 👏👏👏👏 I absolutely love you and you are my new best friend ✨ but seriously. ..this was amazing. .thank you I was having a bad day and this brightened my mood..bravo very very good.

  2. This article is one good reminder why I admire your literary prowess so much. I love your words, and how you gather up intangible substances and form them into vividly concrete materials. But most of all, I love your honesty and humility. Idol! Ahahahahaha

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