By Jonathan Bremer
In the chaos and the unpredictability of life, finding the courage to talk about your circumstances, goals, struggles and dreams is difficult. We live within a “me-centric” universe that revolves around us. While many people can be content to post their “#blessed” statuses about their perfect lives, there are so many more of us that feel a disconnect from the filtered world of this augmented, post-social reality. So much of what we see has been masked over and packaged for selling. This is because in a me-centric universe, we are so focused on being “liked,” or meeting a standard of acceptability, that what is projected is no longer authentic — and if you are like me, you are not one to trust inauthentic people. Thus, having the freedom and the platform to write down thoughts and emotions can be extremely therapeutic. Whether that is through poetry, song, short stories or journal entries, all formats can effectively help you process your innermost thoughts.
As an introvert, it can be difficult for me to trust others with my story. First, like many others, I don’t want to be judged. I want people to like me and there is always pressure to be good enough. Secondly, I have a conditioned fear and mistrust of individuals who aren’t authentic. I question their intentions and generally find myself uncomfortable around them. So, I turn to a medium that allows me to say the things I need to get off my chest, while also avoiding the risk of being hurt.
As far as emotional expression and well-being goes, I find it relieving to just sit down in front of my computer with my guitar and type out my feelings. I funnel all my emotions into the words that I put down. I’ve sat for 2-3 hours at a time, just writing and playing, with an emotional breakdown every now and then. Most of the time, no final product comes out of it. But even when I haven’t produced anything, that time has been invaluable to me. During those sessions, I have analyzed myself and reflected on the why behind my emotions. Often I don’t find a solution, but usually just taking the time to think about the “why?” behind your feelings allows you to process them more effectively. I also find that I have recurring feelings. So, I often look back through my journal where I’ve written similar thoughts and reread them. They serve as great notes for reflecting on where I’ve been and how far I’ve come.
Writing and music also serve as spaces where you can safely and freely speak about your identity, your life goals, and your personal journey of discovery and direction. In a journal, a song book, or a diary there are no filters imposed upon you. You can say whatever you think, be as personal and open as you desire, and share as much or as little as you want. You can also refer to entries years later and reflect while you compare your recorded thoughts with your new perspective. Finally, it can be used as a tool and a platform to prepare to share who you are with those around you.
Despite all this, there is still a fundamental problem with relying on writing for self-expression. Unless we use this medium to relate to others, to help our friends and family through their own experiences, or to support other people, we begin to isolate ourselves. A limit of this medium is that we can begin to lose touch with others. Using writing or music as an emotional and creative outlet is a great thing, but it should not be a substitute for meaningful connection with other people. It cannot adequately fill the space that a deep conversation with a trusted friend occupies. Trusting others not to hurt us or judge us based off our histories is hard, but it is not impossible, especially if we can use something we’ve written or created to guide us. If we reflect on our experiences and share them with the people around you, then we can build a powerful connection with them. There is risk involved, as opening up exposes those areas in your life. But people will notice that you are genuine, and people will be more likely to relate to you. They may even be vulnerable and share their story with you. When everything is stripped away, it is important to remind ourselves that we are all people. We all have feelings and there will always be someone willing to listen to your experiences and build you up.