Everything in our world is made up of energy—the trees, the birds, the earthquakes—but humans are a peculiar bunch. We are also made up of energy, unique and individual to each 7.5 billion of us on this planet, however, we’re the only ones that are the most uncomfortable with our own energy. What the trees, birds, earthquakes and everything else but humans have in common is that they don’t fight, try to change or to control their nature, their acceptance of who or what they are. As a human, what I’m most jealous of is everything else’s ability to just Be. Like all the time.
We, humans, are uncomfortable with our own energies, which are manifested as emotions and feelings. We, my generation of Millennials and those after us, were raised by a conservative generation that was only reiterating what they’ve been taught (that feelings and mental health are not polite dinner table conversation topics) and grew up in an era that viewed therapy as taboo. Today, we live in a society that has grown to be more open than it was before with the talk of mental health, sexuality, intersectionality and so on, but it is also competing with social media, this idea of perfection, and the social politeness of yesterday.
We have a long way until we can get to where we dream to be, but we must not forget that change is happening. Every effort is valuable and important towards changing the narrative of society into the kind of world we can feel good about leaving behind. And it starts with us—all of us.
This project began with the question, “What are all the words I know to describe how I feel?” As an adult and a writer, it was embarrassing to realize that my emotional vocabulary was as extensive as a toddler’s. It was even more eye-opening when I started making this collage (used as the banner above) and the more I talked about this with others, I learned that I wasn’t the only one who thought this issue was important; there is more to the human experience than just “happy” and “sad.”
This artists’ collaboration, A-Z of Emotions, is our contribution to the cause. 28 artists were randomly assigned a letter of the English alphabet, and challenged to create a piece inspired by their own interpretation of an emotion that starts with that letter. While we acknowledge that the scope of this project is limited, that there are more emotions than those that are represented and there are other languages with even more emotions, our collective goal is to simply start a conversation.
And maybe—hopefully—the more we talk about it, the more we understand how we feel, and have better ways to communicate how we feel, it’ll get easier to just Be. Like, all the time.
BACK TO A-Z OF EMOTIONS