For as long as I can remember, I have been “too much”. I’m too sensitive, too enthusiastic, too bossy, too eager, too needy, and every other phrase you can think of. People would get close to me only to realise how much I was, and get scared of it, retreat from it.
It seemed like everyone was comfortably walking around with a half-cup whilst mine was constantly brimming over. I desperately tried to throw water out of my cup, to cover it so no one could see how full it was. I pretended to be less than I am because I was sick of hearing that I was too much. It felt like I’d never find someone who considered me to be the right amount.
A large part of me being “too much” stemmed from my Borderline Personality Disorder, which went undiagnosed for over seven years. It made me overly emotional, impulsive and desperate for people’s attention. But even without my BPD, I’m a person that’s all-in. I don’t fit into the small space often offered to women. I love with my whole heart, whether that’s a person, an artist, a hobby or a place. I am everything or nothing, and people often prefer nothing.
But then I found my people. I not only found people who loved how much I was, who listed it as the reason they liked me rather than an excuse to distance themselves, but I found people who were also all-in. I met passionate people, and every day I am so grateful to have them in my life.
We mock people’s passion, labelling it as obsessive or pathetic unless it makes them a lot of money. We laugh at someone starting a Youtube channel until it has thousands of viewers. We mock someone starting an influencer account or selling their homemade candles until they’re successful. Ambition is supposedly embarrassing until others deem it not to be.
I love passion. I love a healthy dose of obsession. I have a friend who can talk for hours about ballet and some American choreographer, and who dedicates her time to watching ballet documentaries and live streams. I have a friend who introduced me to the unique world of drag race, where she can tell me about every single contestant and the history and context of drag. When they talk about the things that interest them, their eyes shine, and their voice quickens, and I am grateful for this glimpse into their passion. And in return, they let me send them Tiktok’s about Taylor Swift and explain the significance of the scarf.
To be passionate is to be alive, to be so alive that your fire cannot be extinguished by hate. To be passionate is to live, each and every day. If your food Instagram has ten followers, then you’re still winning because you’re sharing what you love with people. If your blog has ten visitors a month, then you’re still winning because you’re doing what you always wanted to, instead of letting it rust into a regret.
I have wanted to be a published author for as long as I can remember, and yet I kept this dream tucked away from even my closest friends and family, always writing and querying in secret. Why? I felt like if I told people and didn’t ever make it, I would be embarrassed, and everyone would judge as they’d know I failed. But why is it embarrassing to fail if you tried? Why is it embarrassing to put yourself up for something, to stand behind your passion? That temptation to feel embarrassed still creeps in, but I refuse to let it control my actions. I am proud to be someone that has sent thirty query emails for my latest manuscript and to have received eleven rejections so far. Because I am not going to be one of those people claiming I could have done it without ever trying, I will not wonder ‘what if’, I will know.
We’re always taught that it is embarrassing to care. It’s embarrassing to care about a subject and eagerly discuss it. And more than anything, we’re reminded that it is embarrassing to care about a person. You have to play ‘hard to get’ and always appear to like them less than they like you. We’re reminded to wait several hours before replying, to check our message with the entire group chat to confirm it seems disinterested and never to be the first to say you like or love them. I’m not sure what we’re so afraid of, whether noticing our interest will scare them or that we’ll be the supposed loser of the interaction if it doesn't work out. There is no winner or loser in relationships or breakups, just two people who hopefully tried their best.
My last relationship lasted four years, and he was the one to end it. That’s something I’m not supposed to say. It had definitely reached its end, and we both knew that, but he was the one who started the conversation. I don’t think that should be embarrassing. I don’t believe that it really matters.
I refuse to wait a set amount of hours before replying. I will not tear myself into bite-sized pieces for someone new. Because if I’m actually interested in them, it’s with the hope that one day they will want me, all of me, so why should I have to introduce them to me gradually?
There is no shame in caring for someone. There is no shame in liking someone. We live in a society that seems to be growing colder and more distant the more we go online. In a world that doesn’t care, be the person that cares. Be the person that shares their heart, thoughts and interests. If you care and the other person doesn’t, that isn’t a reflection of your worth, just of the situation. Be the person who cares, as you’ll find someone who actually cares too.
I think passion is the most attractive quality in a person. I aim to surround myself with passionate people because they bring out the best in me. They push me to be the best version of myself. To wake up early to fit in my run. To submit my manuscript another time by reminding me that I will find the right agent. To sing Taylor Swift at the top of my lungs on karaoke. Passionate people are what makes life worth living. Passionate people are the ones who recognise that life is so short, so why waste it by hiding parts of yourself?
In a world that tells you to be ‘cool’ and not care, I dare you to be passionate. I dare you to obsess over whatever interests you. If you like Taylor Swift, buy a t-shirt with her face on it, learn all the lyrics to the ten-minute version of All Too Well. If you want to make Tiktoks, then press record. If you want to be a writer, then start typing.
Welcome to Symptoms of Living! A place where I like to relieve myself of the barrage of thoughts and ideas filling my mind. Here I'll take a look at various topics, from books to BPD, series to self-harm, there's nothing that we can't, and shouldn't, talk about.
Having struggled with mental illness since the age of 15, one of the hardest parts was how alone I felt in it. While mental illness is beginning to be discussed more openly, and featured in the media, I still think there is room for improvement. So whether it is mental illness or merely mental health, a bad day or a bad year, let's make this a place to approach it and strip it back. Everyone has their own symptoms of living, and you certainly won't be the only one with it.
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