When I was single, I got pretty good at burying my feelings. For those of you who’ve read Meeting Your Half-Orange, you’ll remember me talking about this: I didn’t want people to think I was feeling down about being single, so if anyone asked, I said, “I love being single! It’s a blast!” I did love it sometimes, so I thought I was being genuine. But the truth was, I wanted a relationship—I just thought it would sound lame of me to say so.
Why is it that we cover up our feelings this way? Why do we apologize for them? We’ve all said at some point, “I’m sorry I’m getting so angry about this,” or “I’m sorry…I can’t feel excited!” The fact is, feelings are good! And to be a healthy person in a happy relationship, we all need to accept and embrace the ones we’re having so we know where we really stand in life.
That’s why when my friend Pam passed along this web site she discovered through a friend of hers (which was passed on to me by Todd last night), I ate it up. We Feel Fine (located here at wefeelfine.org) is a genius program that collects the words from anyone on the web who writes the words “I feel…” The creators, Sep Kamvar and Jonathan Harris call their 2005 creation “An Almanac of Human Emotion,” and “a database of several million human feelings, increasing by 15,000 – 20,000 new feelings per day.” Wow, right?
On the first page of the site, you have an option to “Open We Feel Fine,” which brings to you “The Madness”: hundreds of colored dots flying around the screen you can click on to see what someone in some country has been feeling. Things like “better” “ok” “super” and “alone” might come up. Take the option of clicking “Murmurs” and you get to watch scrolling postings of people being more particular: “I feel like talking about it,” “I feel like a dumbass” “I feel the acne about to come out,” and as someone from Victoria, Australia wrote, “I feel like I’m walking toward a brick wall and am going to hit it.” On other screens, you can even isolate a gender, an age, a city or a mood so you can see how others relate to you.
The reason I’m so enthralled with this site? It’s a reminder that feelings are natural and healthy. Every single one of them (it’s acting on some of those “going postal” ones that screws things up). We all go through ups and downs in life, and it’s good for us. We can watch a feeling come and land on us. Acknowledge it. Embrace it for a second or an hour with a laugh, a cry, a shiver. And then, we can move on.
Being a dating optimist isn’t about putting on a happy face every time you’re feeling sad; it’s about acknowledging your true feelings now, and seeing a happier future for yourself—being certain that the experience you’re having today is leading you toward a great relationship. And that’s worth smiling about when you’re ready.
One tip that will help? While you’re playing with We Feel Fine (because you will want to!) don’t just focus on the powerfully sad stuff. Also look at how good some people are feeling, too. Go to the “Mounds” section and seek out how some strangers feel “confident” and “brave” and “free” and “pretty,” “important,” “able” and “blessed.” While you address and acknowledge how “alone” or “weird” or “unloved” or “troubled” you feel, see if there’s some area of your life that you can find a ray of feeling good, too, just for a minute. Because that’s about how long it will be until the whole site is refreshed with brand new feelings from a new batch of thousands across the world. We all feel something. Be true to how you do.