Hi, my name is Annie, and I’m a deep feeler.
Feelings follow me everywhere. To my favorite area of the airport—baggage claim—where family members, lovers, and old friends reunite after time apart. To the driver’s seat of my car, where I often listen to music late at night, drifting down an empty highway, taking it all in. From big decisions to daily choices, I am emotion-driven to the core.
Whether through an accumulation of experiences or one pivotal moment, many of us learn to label our feelings as we grow older. Good or bad, safe or unsafe, welcome or unwelcome. At the age of 17, the process of applying to college left me overwhelmed to a degree I had never experienced before. Instead of owning my fear and facing the inevitable task of deciding what I wanted to do with the next chapter of my life, I froze. I missed major deadlines and made a routine out of taking multiple-hour naps after school.
Halfway through my junior year of high school, I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression, and my deep feelings gave way to something new: numbness. Like a perpetual panic attack or a depressive episode that silently leads me to complete isolation, this is my greatest fear. I worry about getting trapped in the darkness that mental health challenges often bring.
Sometimes it seems the world was not designed for people like me. When we see people cry, our immediate reaction is to provide comfort by saying, “Don’t cry.” In political discourse, we learn that facts don’t care about our feelings. For CEOs, chefs, and Congressmen alike, we consider a job well done as one where emotions stay out of the way.
Somewhere along the line, we decided emotions made us weak. Feelings are to be experienced privately or perhaps hidden altogether. I’m here to tell you the opposite.
What would it look like for each of us to meet our feelings as they are with acceptance? What would it mean to be honest about the very real things that impact us? To care at all costs?
Vulnerability is both a choice and a risk, but it is one worth taking. If confidence is trusting yourself, feelings are the subtle forces guiding your intuition. To honor them is to be true to yourself—even the shadowed, imperfect, and messy parts.
Fellow deep feelers, we’re in this together. Your capacity to feel allows you to connect, to empathize, to love. These feelings make you who you are.
In a world that constantly seeks to convince you otherwise, may you always remember this truth: your big feelings are welcome here.