In Defense of Drama Queens

I’ve been called a drama queen all my life.

My mom says I’ve been one since the day I was born. Asleep during the day. Up all night. Screaming bloody murder. I was feisty even as an infant. And as soon as I could talk and express myself, I had very intense reactions to just about everything.

My teachers, friends and family members would probably agree. It doesn’t take much for me to feel overwhelmingly sad, blindingly angry or enormously happy, and it takes even less to show it all over my face.

I stomped my feet a lot as a child. Declared I was not loved when I felt angry or slighted. I threw the most ginormous pity parties when I didn’t get my way. I was mouthey too. Not afraid to talk back. Especially when things seemed unfair or were unfair. Eight-year-old Erin was all like, “You need to realize you’ve treated me unfairly, goddamnit.” God bless my parents.

Drama queen isn’t exactly a title to be carried with pride. When I came to terms with the fact that I did react more strongly than my peers, I did my best to tone it down. I thought everyone around me felt the same emotions I did, and everyone else was just much better at concealing it.

But you know. As with other things about who we are there are some things you just can’t hide. So I cry at literally every wedding. So I am able to find the words to express what I’m feeling when I’m feeling it. So I get a little bit carried away when I write birthday cards. Or thank you cards. Or Hey! I’m thinkin’ bout you! Cards. So I cry when I hug people and can’t help but tell them how.much.I.love.them. So I yell when I get angry. So I use my arms as giant flailing devices when I’m trying to make a point. So I need to retreat to a dark room when I’m sad and just let it all out. I mean….don’t you?

It’s taken me some time — and some unfair comparison to everyone else — to realize….I’m just an expressive person. And that’s okay. Actually it’s more than okay. It’s a gift.

I’ve read up a little bit on what it means to be a “highly sensitive person” (HSP), and while I really don’t know if I am one of the 15-20% to be classified as such, I identify quite a bit with the descriptions.

Either way — whether I really am, technically, a highly sensitive person, or I’m not, I do feel deeply and express my emotions with ease (although not always with grace). I rarely have to think about how I am feeling and how to talk about it. I can usually explain exactly what I am feeling and why.

I process slowly and quietly. Not only do I think about what people are saying to me, but I think about the nuance in their words, their body language, whether they are using the same tone they used yesterday. I can usually detect when things aren’t right. Or when someone is sad. And I can absolutely see through bullshit. I can’t stand bullshit.

Not to say I’m perfect. All of this makes me very anxious and I often go fishing for compliments or affirmation. I demand a lot of loved ones because I feel (whether wrong or right) that I give a lot.

I often feel weird. Even among likewise emotional friends. I still feel like I’m the one that is too much. But when I try to stifle it….well….I just can’t. So I’ve learned to embrace it.

You see, I would like to believe it’s that raw emotion that makes me a good friend. Makes me a good writer. Allows me to connect with people on deeper levels than most. Enables me to feel empathy, generosity and to practice gratitude.

It’s moments of deep reflection that have helped me realize it takes all kinds.

The world needs me. It needs people like me. It desperately needs more love, more peace, and in my opinion, more mushy gushy birthday cards and thank you notes.

But it also needs people who are nothing like me. People who have less fascination with the human race, stories and words, and more fascination with numbers and problem solving. It definitely needs people who can read maps (’cause I can’t). And the world even needs people who have to work hard at practicing empathy and learn how to feel more openly and expressively. These are the people who teach me, challenge me and help me grow.

I’m different. I’m a little strange. I’m sure many people find it annoying. I’m sure even more people consider it a weakness. I’m sure I was not always a likeable child (Is Erin reallllllly throwing another fit?). But I think sensitivity is a rare and beautiful gift.

If crying several times a week….or day, if wallowing in sadness or disappointment much longer than I should, if expressing gratitude sincerely and overtly, and if telling people I love them all the time makes me a drama queen, then that’s a label I will wear proudly.

It’s the drama queen in me that sees the immense beauty in the world and in other people. It’s the drama queen in me that carries me through the valleys of despair and the mountains of elation. I like that about me.

If you’ve ever been called a drama queen and tried to stifle your feelings, you should know you have a gift. And we should totally get coffee sometime.

Just know that I will prooooobaaaably cry.

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