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We feel very deeply.

Our nerves might as well be exposed to the surface, just, you know, twiddling at the air like little inquisitive worms, for all the protection they have.

This is good for creating poignant art and understanding and empathizing people.

It’s not so good for dealing with discomfort.

And by discomfort, I usually mean any painful or embarrassing situations.

Ever accidentally offended someone, and have it eat away at you long after they’ve forgotten about it?

Or have you ever been rejected by the love of your life and felt as if you were dying inside, the pain trickling down through your insides like a river of tiny knives?

Or even if you were just lowered in the opinion of someone you idolize? The shame and despair is like black acid, isn’t it? Corroding your heart.

I used to think that everyone felt everything this keenly. They don’t.

But most importantly, I used to think everyone could see and feel me burning with shame, embarrassment or internal agony.

And they don’t.

See, our bad memories and experiences plague us like a nest of ants run wild in our brains, a swarming, squirming mass of hideous irritation, while for others, they are more like shadows that flit in and out, causing momentary discomfort but nothing reaching fire-and-brimstone levels.

And we assume that other people can also see the ants crawling out of our ears and trailing down the sides of our arms, biting and tearing at our flesh in their thousands, but they don’t.

Part of the reason we agonize so much is because we think that others can see us squirming like a centipede on the inside. By realising that most people don’t have our powers of perception, or choose to employ it to analyse the degree of discomfort others are experiencing, we can free ourselves from self-imposed mental flagellation.

You may feel like you’ll disintegrate from utter shame, but in truth you look perfectly normal and placid to outsiders, if only briefly flustered.

Our minds balloon everything to gigantic proportions, but you’ve got to remember it’s all internal, and quite, quite hidden.

Have you ever been called out for having an unemotional face? The first time I was told this, I balked: after all, there was literally a seething sea of feelings beneath my exterior. But my face gave nothing away. It’s like the calm surface of a sea, beneath which wild sea creatures and octopuses battle out and tussle in tidal waves of disturbance.

So, the next time you want to tear down the world out of sheer agony, remind yourself that people don’t notice how much pain you are in, and, to be honest, don’t really care. They’re all nursing their own wounds anyway.

In the end, shame and embarrassment and rejection and other sources of emotional discomfort will never kill you. I know it hurts. Trust me, I know: it can hurt like the world is on fire, like every inch of your flesh is being scalded by boiling oil, molten drop by drop.

But it will never ever kill you. Eventually, it passes. It’s agony in the moment, but like all pain, it fades in time. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?

You can always pick yourself back up. And it’s always better to risk transient pain than eternal regret.

You’ll be fine.

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