Don’t be afraid to feel.

Even when it hurts.

I once lived in a country where everything worked and life seemed easy. We worked hard, but we also had lots of time for play. Life went along smoothly. The hardest choices for young people growing up in that country seemed to be things like, should I study straight after school, or should I have a gap year traveling in Europe?

Okay, I’m exaggerating. But, after a long period of living happily in that country I found myself yearning for home. If everything goes too smoothly, I wondered, does one start making problems where there really aren’t any? Or looking for excitement in unhealthy ways? Because that was one way to explain what had happened in my life.

In the end, for various reasons, I returned home to South Africa.

Looking back, I have come to the conclusion that growing up in South Africa, this country of opposites, we are forced to think more deeply about who we are and what we want. Forced to make philosophical and practical choices at an early age, because of the challenges of living here. In the country I had left, where everything appeared so easy, life was less about survival, and so those choices of survival didn’t even feature.

A similar thing applies to our feelings and emotions.

If we avoid our feelings, it may be easy enough to live a contented life. We may not get too angry, or too sad or too hurt. But can we be really happy? Do we even recognize what feeling really happy is, if we have never experienced the opposite level of pain and unhappiness?

I do believe, that having experienced very low periods, I appreciate the highs more.

What do you think?

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