I go with my gut on most things. I know how I feel about someone very quickly after meeting them. I know if I’m going to be good friends with someone. I know if I could date this person, if I couldn’t date this person, if I’m attracted to them, if I could love them forever or if it’ll last a week. I can usually guess a lot about who a person is, what types of experiences they’ve had, what sort of ideology they subscribe to. I know when people are off, when they need to talk, when they need to just “be.”
I’ve known from just looking at a picture that someone I was involved with hooked up with another person in the photo. (This has happened on more than one occasion. Easiest sleuthing ever.)
I don’t think I’m a wizard, nor do I think I’m exceptional for being able to understand people. Lots of people know how to understand people.
I also know that I’ve judged people too soon, too harshly, and I’ve been wrong a million times.
But when I’ve been wrong, it’s usually because I didn’t listen to my intuition. Some of the bigger screw-ups I’ve made or crapfests I’ve been part of came about because my gut was waving giant red flags in my face and blaring sirens, and I put on blinders and plugged my ears. THIS IS BAD NEWS was blinking on a banner in my brain, and I unplugged the sign. I knew all about other people’s feelings, and I conveniently ignored my own.
My mom likes to give me a hard time when I claim omnipotent powers of intuition while she’s grilling me about any and every male in my life, since, her fingers are crossed, one might possibly be “the one” (hi, mom).
“How do you know you don’t like him?”
“Because I just know. I know how I feel about people when I meet them.”
“But then how come you didn’t know about [insert bad-news-boy #1 here]?”
And that’s the thing: I knew. I knew with him, I knew with others. I knew I shouldn’t get myself in any deeper. But hotness trumped rationale or desire overtook knowing better.
I’ve written blog posts before about “knowing” and how I think I know everything, and I’m consistently humbled to find out I don’t know a fucking thing. This isn’t a blog about that.
At some point within the past few years, I transitioned from being an INTJ to an INFJ. (If you are unfamiliar, these letters indicate Myers-Briggs personality types). These two types are only a letter off, but I like to attribute my current sense of self to that move from T to F. Basically: I let logic take a backseat to finally acknowledging that I had a lot of feelings, and that I was going to express those feelings instead of ignoring them, and I was going to allow them to guide me and inform my decisions instead of invalidating them at the outset.
I spent the majority of my life suppressing my feelings. When it came to sex and sexuality, instead of taking ownership of those feelings, I took on guilt and shame. When it came to romantic feelings, I berated myself for being what I thought was weak and cheesy and stupid and “female.” When it came to sadness and depression, I pretended to be okay, told people I was doing fine. I prided myself on being book-smart and book-logical. I stuffed down my overwhelming sense of empathy when I felt it was making me teary-eyed too often.
I was afraid that having feelings equated to being vulnerable. If you were vulnerable, people could take advantage of you, manipulate you, mistreat you and hurt you. As it happens, pretending to not have feelings is what got me into situations where people took advantage of me, manipulated me, mistreated me and hurt me. And as someone dear to me once told me, “No one has to know you’re being vulnerable unless you want them to.”
So I decided to acknowledge that I had feelings, to say what I felt and to feel all the feels. Sometimes my method for coping is just expressing out loud, “I feel miserable.” Sometimes (mostly) it’s making fun of my feelings. We all have ’em, so sometimes telling your Facebook friends that you just sobbed while watching a dog-food commercial is actually one of the most human things you can (and should) do.
The weird part is, ever since I embraced my feelings as a part of who I am, I feel like I feel less. (feelfeelfeelfeel) But it’s because I’m expressing my feelings that I don’t have to deal with them as much. I go with my gut, and it simply goes. I have a feel, I feel it, and I move on. Instead of bottling everything up and shoving everything down and dealing with the inevitable explosion, things become almost boring. Normal. Healthy.