Every single person occasionally feels overwhelmed, and those of us who suffer from anxiety feel that way a good deal of the time.The problem with feeling that way is that we are taught, at a very young age, that it is not okay to say so. For the life of me, I cannot figure out why we are taught that being stoic and presenting as strong and self-reliant means forever denying that we can sometimes be feeling small and vulnerable and overpowered.
In my experience, little children are usually the best at verbalising feeling overwhelmed. I recall my daughter coming to me at age five: “Mom, we kindergarten kids are big, but sometimes, we’re little too.” She told me, earnest, mournful, big brown eyes staring seriously into my own. In one simple sentence, she summed up her feeling that being in school, she was now expected to act like a ‘big kid’ even though she still felt very, very small.
The thing is, I am 56 years old and every once in a while, I feel exactly the same way.
I wonder how much of the anger, and meanness, and judgement, and hypersensitivity that I witness on the news and on social media each day is not because we are all just a bunch of kindergarteners who had to learn – way too young – that it is absolutely not okay to voice our fears? What if we all had the right to say ‘I feel small today”, without judgement, without scorn, without derision or contempt?
The day my daughter came to me feeling so very small, I took her into my arms and I told her it was okay to feel that way. I didn’t tell her – as my parents’ generation was taught to do, to ‘pull up her socks’. Or that she would have to ‘develop a stiff upper lip’. I just held her, and I acknowledged that she had the right to feel small sometimes.
She is a self-reliant, strong-willed, fiercely independent young woman today. And yes, every once in a while, when she is feeling small and overwhelmed, she still comes home to the safety of my arms.
Because it’s okay to feel little sometimes…
Patti Moore Wilson © wednesdayschildca.wordpress.com