For most of my life, I was told to feel my emotions in secret. I was told not to get angry in public and if I did, then it must be 'that time' of the month. Women are seen as extra emotional, and while I hated being emotional before, I love it now.
It wasn't until I left for New York, where I studied at NYU's Meisner studio in the drama department, that I learned how to deal with them, but also to recognise their importance.
The Sanford Meisner acting technique focuses on the authenticity of the emotion. Therefore, it's no surprise that I had to confront my emotions and thus my emotional life. I'm not gonna lie, I was very scared. I mean, this went against everything that I was ever told and was the reason why I got teased in primary school.
In one of my movement classes, we would lie on the floor and our teacher would tell us to just lay there and reflect on how we felt. She would ask us what we're feeling and then would go on to tell us that it was ok - she was validating our feelings. No matter what we felt, it was alright and we were allowed to feel this way. For the first time, I was entitled to my emotions - especially anger and sadness.
We often think about the body as neck down, but the reality is that the body is everything. Health is physical and mental but it's also emotional. It's easy to brush it off thinking it isn't as important, but the truth is: emotional health matters.
I've always been a happy person, very giggly and usually smiley. In the past, if I got angry I would either be petty or just smile and walk away because I didn't want to make a scene. Thus, I would often let other people step all over me because I was too scared to stand up for myself. It wasn't until I came back to Oman after my first semester that I realized how I had changed. I remember one of my friends said something and I replied with what now seemed a normal phrase, but he was shocked. He literally commented on how I stood up for myself, and this was the moment I realized that if I wanted to stand up for myself then I shouldn't be ashamed to do just that. I'm glad he called me out on it because without him, I don't think I would've realized how much I've changed.
Since then I've been more aware of my feelings and my responses. Whenever I feel something, instead of pushing it away like I used to, I acknowledge it and embrace it. THIS is how to empower yourself. I think that the ability to feel and express emotions is a powerful thing. Without them, life would be dull, monotone and certainly not a rollercoaster. I'm here for a full life. Plus, who doesn't like rollercoasters?