Monthly Archives: August 2014

Mastering your emotions

Although it’s morning/afternoon for folks in the Western Hemisphere, it’s past midnight for me and I’m up contemplating my emotions, wondering what I’ve done.

For my entire life, my emotions have ruled me. Up until maybe a year ago, I was obsessive, passionate, manic at times, depressed at others. I was always riding the highest high or the lowest low. I could feel EVERYTHING, my skin was always prickling and my hairs were always standing on end.

I wasn’t so much creative as I was seized by a torrent of words that would rush through me, a storm started by some sort of emotional state. I was writing sporadically, but I was always “going through something,” so I was also writing quite regularly.

I felt like there was something wrong with me and I hated it. I hated myself for not having a hold on my emotions. I hated the lack of restraint and fantasized that one day I would be a woman of composure, one whose cool was hardly ever broken. And these days, I’m nearly there.

Living in Korea for 1 + years means that when I’m awake and “going through something,” it’s most likely 3 a.m. for my loved ones, so I gotta solve my own problems. At first, this sent me into a tailspin, but over time, little-by-little, it has evolved into a level of calm that I would describe as “can’t be bothered.” There is a knowledge that the darker feelings are there, but since I know I don’t really have the support system of best friends and mentors and confidantes to help me work through them, they never quite pierce the surface.

Funny thing is that in the past, I would always try to get over my breakups by talking about them 24/7, and my cousin would always tell me that if I talked about them less I would feel them less. How funny that she was right about not only that, but feelings too.

So now I live this existence where I’m no longer swept away; I’m no longer marooned on an island surrounded by a sea of my own feelings. I feel angry sometimes….but it’s not rage. It’s more of an intellectual annoyance that dies out after a few quips and some simple statements aimed to directly cut through to the heart of the matter. I feel depressed sometimes….but again, it’s more in my head than my heart. I think thoughts like “I am feeling depressed right now. I am not a happy woman today.” But then I binge watch a TV show or read a novel, and I can’t be bothered to feel my “depression” so intensely.

I am, more or less, exactly the woman I set out to make myself in college, and you know what?

I worry that along the way I ruined something that was key to my essential Bryoney-ness. I barely know this person who thinks sarcastic thoughts and communicates her feelings in a succinct and concise way. Years ago, I felt like the only way I could express the torrent of emotions pouring through me was with writing. Now, I go through most of my days feeling completely uninspired, and asking myself when it’s OK to give up on a dream.

I feel less and less convinced that I’ll ever actually write that novel, and I wonder if this whole haphazard writer “dream” didn’t get started because it was just the first thing I can remember anyone saying I was good at, and I fixated on it.

Sometimes I think I’d like to be a chef. But then again, they say don’t ruin your hobbies by making them into careers.



I think I have a knack for unhappiness, like how people have a knack for drowning unless they swim, float or tread water. For me to be happy, I must constantly tread the sea of “new” and “positive” experiences–if I stop for a second, or if the tide breaks, or if one tiny thing happens that interrupts this flow of outer-stimulated “happiness,” I begin to drown.

This past year has been different than the last. Last year I had a school that I hated (in some areas) with a boss who was mean to me. But I had a lot of friends, a huge apartment, enough money, and eventually a boyfriend (whom I still have at least. So one outta 4 ain’t bad I guess).

This year is different. I don’t hate my job (who could hate working part time?), but I have a small apartment and, I’m starting to realize, very few actual “friends” (at least in Korea).

I don’t know if spending so much time alone has made me too rigid, or if working in an office with constant gossiping and social politics has made me too self-conscious (I suspect both), but one thing I have felt, over and over this year, is that I mean very little to most of the “friends” I had last year.

In any case, this year is much different than last year, and I find myself spending much more time in my own company than in anyone else’s. This ought to be great–it’s kind of what I wanted, more time alone, more time to write. But I guess I wasn’t prepared to get it on the price of feeling rejected and blown off, and I mostly dread my own company and hate being alone.

Or maybe it’s all in my head. I’m about six months into my new year-long contract, and without constant new experiences as distractions–and I do mean constant, did I mention that I just came back from Bali Monday?–and a constant barrage of people telling me I’m wanted, I’m a good person, I’m loved and needed–and I do mean constant–the six-month blues is at hand, letting me know that I have to spend another half-year on the other side of the world from everything that’s comfortable.

I watched Eat Pray Love last night (because Bali) and there was a quote that was something to the effect of she believes that if a person is willing to leave their comfort zone, seek answers, and believe that everything along the way is working toward their good, they will be rewarded for it.

I guess the first time I watched that movie, I accepted that sentiment as gospel. This time, however, I just thought it was awfully “neat” that she left her hubs with no warning, took off, and got True Love and Enlightenment in a year flat.

My life has been much more messy than that, and I suppose it will continue to be. I suspect the lives of others are messier than that too, and I am increasingly upset by how dishonest things related to the universal human experience (things like heartbreak, loneliness, pain, joy, travel, budgeting, etc.) are portrayed in entertainment. Everything is too neat on TV, and even when it’s messy, it’s still too neat.

I mean, I get it in part. It hurts to read or watch something that portrays heartbreak honestly. Something that doesn’t glaze over it and make it syrupy and cute and funny. But that’s no excuse. Because heartbreak hurts, and it hurts for longer than two episodes. When you really love someone, or when you think you really love someone, does it ever go away?

How about when your friends find other friends and leave you behind? How does that feel? Is it ever even shown? And is your heart not allowed to break for the loss of these people whom you did love and did not think would reject you? And how about in your country, incidences of mass violence, or the economy, or feeling like you are a target, that you will never be allowed to have a good life? When does that stop hurting? In two episodes? Three? How much time before we move on because it’s boring and we need something slapstick to cover it?

This life is not easy and it’s not neat, but who will write this story now, in these days? I don’t think I can–it’ll take too long, and I’m too impatient, sadly. And I can’t get away from writing characters who are autobiographical, or essays, which are too direct, too unimaginative, and too damn boring.