Posted in Of Life's Dramedies, Of Psyche

Of Sentimentality

What can you do with a sentimental heart? – She and Him, “Sentimental Heart”

You wouldn’t think I was this sort if you met me. But, my heart melts at just about everything. I’ve been told I come across as slightly aggressive at times. That my voice is deep and I speak emphatically. That I generally give the impression of a strong woman, like a stereotypical feminist who will threaten to hit you with a copy of Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex. I severely object to everyone of the above sentences and I hope my readers aren’t that narrow-minded to agree with them. The statement that is true, however, is that generally I do have a melty, sentimental heart, which isn’t always fun.

That doesn’t mean I want to let go of it. Never. But, it has its inconveniences. I’ve moved a few times in my life, and though I’ve never been a collector or hoarder of some sort (well, I did collect pencil cases but that is another story), I find it very, very hard to part with my things. Recently, I was doing a course on comic books, and I kept tearing up at the thought of all the comics I used to have as a child which I have since lost. Not very productive, when you are trying to get through lectures and write essays.

It is the littlest of things. I can’t ever, go through mobile phones like everybody else. I get too attached to them. I love certain objects as if they were people, and even though they may not have much external value, they are inevitably chained to the web of my emotional life. It helps that I am not extravagant, but the problem with modern day space-crunching is that if you want to move forward in life, you have to let go of things.

What hurts most, besides losing people obviously, are books, films and music. These have all thankfully been upgraded to be experienced and collected on the interweb. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you will know I am not wholly converted to modern, webby conveniences. But, these I don’t mind at all. In fact, if folks at Spotify are reading this, then please open your services here in India. But, coming back to when these things were tangible, and I am at the right age to have experienced them in all their avatars (including scrolls, I’m not kidding), I don’t just miss the tangibility of experiencing these now, I miss the experience of touching them then. The many times I had played those video cassettes, read the same comics cover to cover, listened to those records that were made much before I was born.

Even with the intangible, there are moments when I, inconveniently, well-up. I am not a public crier. Not because I was told not to, but because I have an awful crying face. I can beat Claire Danes at it. But, the older I get, the more this sentimental heart wants to rear its head. There was a time I was unafraid of the dramatic European films with inevitably tragic endings. And now, I’m scared to touch them and even cry in retrospect.

Cleaning can be a nightmare, as you well imagine. If an empty carton has a cute or a deliberately teary-eye inducing graphic, I am unlikely to chuck it into the bin. These have all been rather harmless examples, but there is a very dark side to sentimentalism. A few years ago, a book came out describing the Highly Sensitive Person (HSP). This has since become very popular and though I am not fully converted to the theory, I have checked a number of boxes of the symptoms. The dark side is probably what you get called in so many names: anxiety, depression etc. An inability to cope with any negative remark, and an excessive dwelling on and even denial of a positive one, being sentimental is just not suited to the way things are. But, then again, the impact that Susan Cain’s Quiet has had in exposing introversion as much more widespread than to have been understood before, it is time us sentimentals too came out and get accepted by others and ourselves. I can’t just label myself as a HSP. I’d rather just be known as human.


Writer, Blogger, Kate Bush Fanatic

3 thoughts on “Of Sentimentality

    1. You’re welcome! There is a history to this name “sentimentalism” but it mainly pertains to a specific form of literature. Now, there is a lot of material on Highly Sensitive Person, so maybe you could check that out. I think the song I included here gets it better than a lot of research out there.

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