How Do You Want To Feel?

Justin Leibow
Justin Leibow

I have a friend who, for fourteen years, ever since he very first picked up a guitar, dreamed of being not only a musician, but a rock star. And he is good. An intuitive player, a sultry singer: to see him with that instrument in his hands is to see the work of a higher force at play. Absolutely no doubt about it – making music puts him in his element, that magical place where intellectually you know you’re vibing at your absolute highest but, also? You feel it, too.

Feelin’ it, for me – that’s where it’s at.

Maya Angelou said we seldom remember what people do, but we remember how they make us feel. My feelings are what I go to bed with at night – on a “good” day, I lay down buzzing at accomplished or loved, wearing contentment like a fuzzy old blanket. And on a “bad” day I feel less-than and incomplete. Often I couldn’t even pinpoint exactly why.

My friend the guitar player, he recently started medical school. He’s going to be an emergency room doctor. On the surface, that seems like a total one-hundred-and-eighty degree shift in the life ambition he’s professed for so long: swapping amps for scalpels and adoring groupies for a waiting room of sick patients. Writing music, life on the road, all of that – for him, it’s no more.

And yet, he feels exactly the same now as he did on tour.

The two things – music and medicine – feed the same part of him.

The rush of responding to circumstance, the responsibility of another person’s wellbeing, emotion, (life!) in his hands, conducting his team like an orchestra – in the emergency room, he’s on a different kind of stage. But it’s still a stage. When he swapped his guitar for his white coat, he simply became a different kind of rock star.

I love that.

We’re not what we do. We’re how we feel when we’re doing it.

And so.

If we chase the intangible feeling, rather than the concrete thing, we might get a whole lot closer to that sigh of satisfaction as we close our eyes at night.

For my friend, he wants to feel useful and prominent, revered and important. Those are all valid, important things, and he finds them in performance, and in science. My best friend talks about wanting his days to feel energised. My yoga teacher addresses feeling worthy, and my dad has talked with me about his need to feel like a provider, the Alpha male.

There are no wrong feelings.

No “right” answer, no “wrong” answer.

When I ask myself, how do you want to feel? a whole host of words bubble up. I want to feel desired and loved, kind and measured, wild and like I am fulfilling my potential, reaching my own heights of excellence every single day. I want to feel creative and heard, be seen and validated because of that. Divinely feminine. Wildly expressive. Passionate and unique, whole and decisive. In control.

I want to feel many, many things.

But if I boil it down, really sit with myself – all the parts of my self – and ask the question, these are my truest answers. The stuff that reflects me, and the woman I want to grow in and out of, in the most distilled form. These are my four core desired feelings, that colour everything I chase, every damned day. As I’ve identified them, it’s been so much clearer to see the other things I could chase that satiate my hunger. That’s been so very helpful.

Strong. Sexy. Inspiring. Free.

If I chase those feelings, I chase the most authentic parts of myself. It’s been interesting to see where I thought I’d find those feelings, where I actually do – and to dream up new ways to explore them that I never considered before.

I can find strength in vulnerability. Sexiness in saying no. Feel inspiring by admitting, I don’t know. Gain freedom in commitment.

How do you want to feel? Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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