No More Chill from Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Photo by William Arcand for Flanelle Magazine

I grew up thinking that emotions are a sign of weakness. Especially in business. As women we’re often told if we want to make it in a man's world we have to put aside our girlish tendencies to feel, care, be compassionate, an attitude ingrained in men since they were children. That toxic masculinity, be strong, be cold, be cut throat, show no compassion, show no fear, have no feelings or else you’re weak weak weak. Women are allowed to have feelings although these said feelings are what relegate us to being dismissed as frivolous. Women are emotional, erratic, dramatic. As if passion is a bad thing. This extends to relationships with men as well. Growing up wanting to stand my ground, be treated as an equal, it became clear that being a high maintenance demanding emotional girl or girlfriend was to be avoided at all costs. I wanted to be the chill girl. The laidback girl, that could hang with the boys, that put aside typically feminine character traits, that didn’t need a ‘lame’ label like girlfriend. Easygoing, laissez-faire, open minded.

You’re not like other girls they said. Back then that was a compliment. But there’s an underlying damaging insinuation beneath that. It appeals to us because we want to be considered unique, special, different. But why must we be pitted against other women to feel important? What is wrong with other girls? Did you ever think maybe your heart is closed and you’re lazy and self-serving and other girls are just not putting up with you’re shit and letting you get away with it?

But hold up. On the quest to being the chill girl, we may have forgotten to stand our ground. We inadvertently made it easy for guys to treat us with less respect than we deserved. We pretended we didn’t have feelings of attachment. If not feelings then why do it? I’m not saying that every physical encounter with the opposite sex should necessarily be with the goal of it lasting forever or of being this epic romance. But can not every encounter be honest and open and meaningful? Without vulnerability there is no growth. We are taught to fear risk. We fear failure and rejection. So we’re always numbing ourselves. Lying to ourselves. Self-love starts with accepting all sides of our selves. Not rejecting the masculine or feminine or even the flaws. Not rejecting and judging the most rewarding aspect of our existence, our ability to feel.

I treated sex in a typically male way for a long time. I got burned early on in my romantic life (first and second boyfriends both cheated on me). Those experiences were super damaging to my self-esteem and sense of self-worth not to mention my concept of relationships in general. I vowed to never let that happen to me ever again. I decided relationships were not for me. Sex would be purely physical. No feelings, no hurt. Easy peasy. Well it wasn’t that easy. It took a lot of tries and a lot of alcohol to get it just right. At first I would develop feelings. Or I just felt used and underappreciated if I didn’t get a text the next day. The thing about casual sex that is so horrible these days is that we treat the other person with less interest, courtesy and respect we would treat a store clerk or casual acquaintance. Out of fear of leading them on and making them think we may actually have feelings for them.

We all seek the comfort of another body but refuse to look at ourselves or do the work required to treat ourselves and each other with the reverence we deserve. We’re all humans with back stories and emotional blockages.

By being ‘chill’ and putting aside my feelings I was denying a crucial stage of development and of the human experience. Yes it will hurt. Ya, my feelings won’t always be reciprocated. Sometimes people will laugh at me. Maybe they'll think I'm stupid and emotional. But speak your truth anyways. Put it out there. It’s the only way to live if you want the possibility of authentic and meaningful experiences. We are a results focused society. We judge ourselves based on the outcome. What I’ve recently learnt is to make decisions based on my values, on what is in line with who I am and what I want to put out into the world. Regardless of the outcome. This can be applied to anything from what to wear, what to post on instagram, what to text that boy you have a crush on, how to approach that job interview. I’m not saying we have to always say everything we’re feeling. I’m saying we have to make more self-honouring choices and become more comfortable with discomfort. The more we are aware of our feelings, the more honest we are with ourselves, the more honest we can be with others. We’ll stop seeking out those damaging experiences and we’ll stop reliving old, unfulfilling patterns and have a chance at real connections. 

Besides, people tend to mirror your vulnerability. And if they don't, well fuck it. You'll feel liberated and empowered by having opened up instead of hiding being the facade of cool.