“I am not my sadness”

My emotional spectrum is expansive. When I am happy, life is at its most wonderful of heights. It produces an unadulterated smile. Each wrinkle and crease is visible as my eyes become small slits pushed heavily upon by my facial muscles. Then there is the anger, hurt, and sadness I feel. Quick to react as a child, I became the easy target. Peers made fun of me because they knew they could incite a reaction. I always took it personally. My spectrum forces me into an immediate and explosive thought process forgoing the rational. Worked up by the irrational, I experience only the extreme. It incapacitates me. I struggle with keeping these emotions at bay. I feel as though I am insane and will ultimately be judged by friends. I push it all down. I break down. “Really I’m fine.” I say. But I am not. I cannot laden people with my ever flowing tears and repetitive vocabulary describing my most immediate concerns. No one else should be burdened as I. This “spectrum of emotions” is my yoke to bear. It causes my sensitivity.

My sensitivity makes me feel lonely. This photograph is not meant to dismiss all who had an impact on me. The friendships I have created are built with strong foundations. It is you who are able to remind me that I am not actually alone, rather I am lonely. These two words, although artificially similar, are in reality vastly different. Loneliness presents itself in physical ways. I spend most days on my own schedule, eating alone in the dining hall, walking around campus or to classes. However, what separates me is the mental loneliness: the thoughts and emotions swimming in my head. What goes on within makes me isolated and at war. “You are such a worrier” my friends say. I worry all the time. I worry about how I look, what I wear, how well I do in school, how people view me. Am I nice, pretty, cool, thin, smart enough? I tell myself it is okay to have these feelings, but when I doubt myself the force pushing back is powerful. Should I feel that way? Am I on the verge of ridiculousness? Calm down, Franckie. Why are you being CRAZY?! I tell myself. Do I have a right to feel this way? Maybe I do? No I don’t… This is how it is. It never ends.

My brain is constantly working and cycling through. Rarely in the moment, always towards the next. This internal struggle caused by my sensitivity is why I feel separate, different than my peers. Being overly emotional is my reality. My uncertainty and self-scrutiny imprison me. I have come to terms with my spectrum and sadness, not letting it fully define or overpower me. This statement, although washed away completely now, forever remains. I can feel the words sinking into my skin as they were freshly formed on my cheek, letter by letter producing a personal, shockingly powerful yet overwhelmingly simple question: “Why am I lonely?”