You know what's horrible about being a teenager? Angst. And I know that's so stereotypical, like everyone looks at teens with pity, and thinks of how frustrating but blessedly transient all those bothersome hormone-driven feelings are, and isn't growing up such a relief, and blah blah blah. But seriously, it's cliche but true. One of the best things about getting out of high school was leaving a lot of that angst behind. Or so I thought.
The unfortunate thing that I am learning, is that uncomfortable feelings are not just a teenager thing. Uncomfortable feelings are a human thing.
I've been in the La-La Land of high highs and low lows. Exuberant in my car rides and conversations, melancholy in my musings and routines. Frustrated and excited by the future. Comforted by some people, pining for others. I'm engulfed by these waves of feelings; at any given time something's on my mind and it's hard to push it out. Is this not part of life? In the throes of always growing older (and hopefully also growing wiser and more like Jesus) are there not also challenging and uncomfortable situations, matters of the heart to address? A life devoid of uncomfortable feelings may well also be a life devoid of growth. Still it's troubling to try and talk it out, because I don't understand much of this churning my stomach sometimes does.
How do you explain what milk tastes like to someone who's never tasted it? You can say it's white, and creamy, and usually cold. Maybe you can talk about how it's high in fat and reminds you of how babies smell. But despite the exhaust of words available for your use, no amount of talking will enable the other person to truly understand the taste of milk. They have to taste it for themselves.
It's kind of that way with feelings, yes? You can use common labels and descriptors, you can give examples, or scream and shout and let it all out, but feelings are not something that can be accurately translated to someone who has never experienced the same feelings. Sensations and feelings are both intensely personal, so much so that sometimes they isolate us and overwhelm us.
But here's the thing. Your problems are not particularly special. Your angst is not unique to you. (I say you because I really mean me.) Everyone has issues. When you feel ostracized and alone because of your struggles, you miss out on the healing unity of commiseration. This is why it's so important to try to articulate the feelings that escape description, because in trying you eventually find the people who understand. Everyone struggles, no one's special, everyone feels uncomfortable things. Penelope Trunk points out that having problems does not make you exempt from dealing with life, so get comfortable with being uncomfortable. We're all in good company.