Why You Need To Vent & How To Do It Without Pissing People Off.

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When you type overwhelmed into Google, it is listed as the feeling of being buried or drowned beneath a huge mass of something, especially water. Recently, I’ve found this water to be exchangeable with a number of things, mainly created, and fuelled, by the weight of my own expectations for myself.

I’ve always had an achievement complex. I want to do really great things, and I can’t help but get ever so slightly frustrated when it seems like the powers that be aren’t giving the same amount of love, or shall I say momentum, to my career as I am. Or that so many exterior events, and their consequences, that I have no control over are popping up directly in front of things that I’m already struggling to make time for. More often that not, I see it as a test, and I treat it as such. I study harder, I wake up early, and I send more vulnerable e-mails. But at some point last week, I hit my limit and genuinely felt like titling my head to the sky and shouting, “Yo Universe, can you stop being that girl that was mean to me in secondary school for no reason, especially when I am doing my best to try and make you like me. Please.”

There are only so many events in our lives that we can accept and even attempt to rationalize before we no longer believe even ourselves. These are the times when a notepad, pen, and a Tori Amos album do not suffice. The water is too heavy. Everything is too damn heavy. What was a comical hunch slowly becomes a sincere belief that a spirit –and often, its physical host- are actively plotting against you.

As I thought more about this, I started to think of people as pressure cookers, existing at a constant simmer that, left untended, can begin to boil to the point of hazard. Or like a kettle that becomes progressively coated in lime scale with every use. Although we may not thrive, we can still function amidst the build-ups of stress and ‘bacteria’, but the time will eventually come when our systems will need to be emptied in the form of a deep and thorough soul cleanse.

And when this needs to be done, it needs to be done right. The trick, or cure rather, is to find the right person. Not a family member; not a work colleague. Your words must not pose any risk of repercussion, backlash, or unemployment.

You also need to find the right space. That could mean waking up an hour earlier to meet for coffee and an almond croissant at 8am in the morning because it’s the only time you can both snatch before you go to work, or you could be fortunate enough that it’s a bottle of Rioja and Islington’s finest Sourdough Pizza on a lazy Friday night. Whoever and whatever it is, it should leave you with the sort of freedom we now frequently find ourselves paying therapists to provide us with. This is extremely not free, so I offer the more cost-efficient alternative of finding this in a balanced and mutually offertory friendship.

And rather than taking the pressure off yourself and impelling it on the other person, which is more of an emotional vampire practice, you simply expel it into the air; into safe, impartial and empathetic air. Because even if they don’t fully understand, this venting partner will listen and only interject in order to supplement your story, rather than to undermine or intellectualize your experience to suit their judgement. And the relationship will retain its balance because these are the people that you know you will be just as supportive to when your time to step up comes.

With that, after you sit with this compassionate soul with neutral ears, dust the last coats of sugar from your life, and eject your circumstance in it’s frankest form, the pressure is relieved, the steam settles to a controllable murmur and you can get on with your life, emotionally unsupervised. The relief doesn’t change your situation. Everything you’ve said will still be true. But when you hear it out loud, from your own speaking voice rather than battling against the other equally frustrated voices in your head, you can change your perception of your situation with much less resistance.

I wove around a few more of these analogies and metaphors between humans and kitchen appliances until I landed back at that first definition. And in that definition, I found something comforting. And that was the fluidity of it all. Water, no matter how rapid or rough, is fluid. And like all waves, these situations will pass. And like all waves, these situations will return. It’s one fact of an unpredictable life. But having our people and places helps us to take some of the compassion they will inevitably offer us, and reflect it onto ourselves, if only until our tides turn calmer.

Abiola.

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