Your turn

“Everyone gets a turn.”

Back in college, a close friend said that to me during a particularly sad period of my life. “Everyone gets a turn.” Something was incredibly comforting about that statement. In four words, it grounded my situation, made me feel not alone, and externalized a feeling into something with a definitive beginning and end. Many people have felt what you’ve felt and made it out just fine if not better. It’s temporary, so if anything.. “enjoy the ride.”

From that point, I sorta turned it into a weird philosophy of mine, and began seeing all emotions and situations as rides at an amusement park, something people literally have to take turns for. The park being my life and the rides covering all types of emotions. How’s that for a new take on the term “emotional rollercoaster”?

Some of my favorite rides & attractions? Well there’s awesome stuff like “Butterflies in my Stomach” Garden. “Reconnecting with an Old Friend” Bumper Cars. “Saying ‘I Love You’ for the First Time” Fireworks Show. But there’s also “Lost and Confused River Cruise” (that one has great mood music). “Heart full of Regret” Haunted House. And “Losing the girl you thought was the One” Wooden coaster (that one really makes you feel like you won’t make it out alive)

I started to see that in my own amusement park I wanted variety. Some people would probably avoid the scary, life-threatening coaster at all costs and just stay on the Dumbo ride all day, but I found myself getting very bored and tired of the easy rides if I were on them too long. I started to miss the thrill, the stomach in my chest, the Gs weighing me down.

In case you’re not following my strange analogy and metaphors… Basically when things in my life were going too well, I started craving struggle, sadness, and turmoil. I wanted “another turn” on the other rides. Don’t get me wrong, whenever I return to those lower places in my life I remember how much I hated it and I desperately want to get out. And maybe that’s it right there. Being down means there’s a clear goal of overcoming whatever you’re going through. Maybe I just crave the journey of recovery, the feeling of hope?

I acknowledge that this is very privileged thinking, which already makes me not want to share this post. I know I haven’t experienced the truly awful emotional rides yet, and some I never will, but isn’t all pain and struggle relative?

I think part of it is also just wanting to remind myself of that experience. No one goes only to Frontierland every time they visit Disneyland. No, you want to visit the other lands and rides. Even if you get there and you remember it wasn’t that fun, or maybe this ride was really, really painful- after years of not riding it, you’ll begin to wonder. Right?

So perhaps this is why I was so inspired and moved by “Inside Out”. Seeing the “islands” in her brain reminded me of my own amusement park. And Sadness’ strange desire to touch every orb and turn them blue reminded me of what I tend to do with my own life situations and memories. What is this fascination I have with blue orbs? Why don’t I just shut down certain rides and let them rust and crumble?

Why don’t I try to open up new rides? It’s like I’m living in a really old and dated park, when there’s a shiny and clean new one that has way better rides. But I’m so afraid of making that jump. Because, no matter how good Xbox and Six Flags is, I’ll always wanna jump on a swing or slide for the hell of it.

To try and end this entry with a bit of positivity, I think I’ll just bring it back to that opening phrase. If you’re going through a tough time, hopefully it makes you believe that things will get better. That you’ve gotten on this ride (a temporary one) that many others have been on before. It will be over sooner than you think and you’ll look back and say, “Hey, I got through it! And I’m a better, stronger person for it.” I guess this is why I always tell people when they’re sad to enjoy it. Because both ends of the emotional spectrum and everything in between should be valued. They provide us something unique, something you might miss, and honestly, you don’t know when you’ll get another turn.


31 thoughts on “Your turn

  1. Thank you for the post, Phil. It’s interesting how I happen to come across your post tonight, just as I felt the need to come back to my blog to write down some thoughts after my previous attempt two years ago (something about WordPress that is just different than Xanga…Xanga really helped me write for many years).

    Like you, I think of life having ups and downs as well. I think we need the ups to see the good in the world, and the downs to feel empathy towards suffering. Currently, I’m at a down. I’m trying to savour the moment, and looking forward to the view when I am up again.

    Keep writing =)

  2. I hope you never feel the need to censor your posts just because they may be viewed as ‘privileged thinking’. Thoughts matter, and yours do too. If anyone talks about it negatively it’s on them to stop and go read another blog or book that they find more benefit from but there are people out there (like me!) who like reading your posts because they are the way they are.

    I’ve found your posts and discoveries really insightful – and I like that I can relate to your point of views and your slightly introspective writing. It’s really the only way I can write as well. Haha.

  3. Hi Phil! 🙂 Thanks for this post. Never realised how much I needed to hear whatever you wrote. This post really resonated with me and the last paragraph is a much-needed reminder to myself that I’ll get through this and it will pass. Am currently going through quite a tough time in a new environment and I can’t help but feel incredibly alone as I struggle to get through things. Thank you for reminding me that I’m not alone in my struggle and that it will all get better someday.

    (Have always been a silent reader since I’m subscribed to your posts haha but I just had to comment this)

    Please keep writing, I love how insightful you always are. Much love x

  4. Phil, thank you so much for this post. I just got to work, and read this before starting my day. This really helped to really get me through my situation. Things will get better. Sometimes we just have to go through the blue orb for it to to turn into something more. A multi-colored orb. That’s the adventure. Nothing is all good or just bad. I might just use that as a reference on my board. You will always amaze me with your wisdom. 😀

  5. The only thing that I would add to this (hopefully without sounding preachy), is to beware this longing you have for the emotional struggle. To be sure that you are not too in love with your brokeness (emotional that is). Because it often results in a self-inflicted groundhog day of relationships in which you unconsciously seek the same emotions over and over again because there is a certain comfort in their familiarity. I’m not saying this is exactly how you feel, but it’s worth musing on isn’t it?

  6. It’s almost unfair how connected to you I feel when I read your posts. A soul nourishing conversation is so hard to come by these days, yet every time you share whether it be via blogging or on YouTube, I find myself wondering whether it is possible to feel as though you already know someone without ever having met them and vice versa. You are the male version of me, seriously. We would either drive each other crazy with our simple, yet complex minds, or we would walk away incredibly connected and inspired knowing that someone actually gets it…gets “me”.

  7. I hope you never feel the need to censor your posts! With that said, I don’t think I crave the ‘down’ part when I’m on the high part of the roller coaster. Rather, when something is going well , I fear that something wrong might happen soon. I tell myself not to get so caught up on the emotion and get prepared for the ‘down’ part- what goes up must come down. Sigh, a strange way of thinking isn’t it?

  8. Been reading your posts for a while and this one really connected with me. Sometimes I feel like the struggle that anyone faces is required for the result that happens eventually. We learn from it and understand why it had to happen even though it felt like the worst kind of pain to go through (whether that’s physical or emotional). In my personal experience, I’ve always thought that life had a balance. If something really fortunate happened to you one day, eventually one day something really unfortunate will happen as well to balance it. Like what your metaphor implies, a persons life can’t always be one ride. It can’t always be one sided. There’s a balance to it. Its comforting though to hear it outloud that someone else is going through the exact same emotions as you are. Lessens the pain, even if its just by a little bit.

  9. I know it’s terrible, but I do miss the feeling of angst whenever it’s “my turn.”

    Maybe it’s because pain is my muse. It’s those feelings that I write from and work with. Even though people mistake heart-wrenching thoughts as intellectual ones, well, heck, heaven forbid, it’d sound way too immature if we talk about how happy we are, right? We tend to associate sadness with some sort of way to acquire deep feelings, a deep understanding. Because of that, they familiarize themselves with it, having that urge to feel pain in hope of getting something out of it. So if I don’t have those painful feelings, where do I draw my inspiration from? How can I resonate with others?

  10. I’m particularly moved by your analogies and metaphors in your post. Every time that someone is in a certain phase in their lives, it made them feel that it is going to take forever for them to recover. But no. On the contrary, time is one of our companions to our journey towards recovery and hope. I find your entry very comforting, Phil. I’d like to thank you for that. Life can be one hell of a ride (especially when it goes out of control that can make us feel very hopeless at some point), but that doesn’t mean you stop trying. That’s why I believe that in life, we live in a balance between the world, ourselves and the universe. Sometimes we feel sad and down, sometimes we feel happy and up with energy. It reminds us not to neglect other emotions and feelings. It can make us appreciate more about what we had and what we can have again in the future, and of course, appreciate what we might not have again.

  11. Thanks for leaving your thoughts in this post Phil! I’ve never thought of sadness or the many other emotions that we’re privileged enough to experience in life, this really helped me view the term “emotional roller coaster” in a new light, and helped me overcome a little some past regrets and conflicts that I’ve been clinging onto.

    And like a few other comments said, please don’t feel the need to censor your posts because I’ve always enjoyed your flow of thinking and will keep reading!

  12. I needed those four words. Sometimes, I can’t help but wonder when my turn on the ride will end, so I can get on the next one. This happens with any ride I go on, whether it’s negative or positive. I think that my lesson to learn here is to live in the present moment more and meet each emotion with curiosity so that I can know what it’s like to have that emotion and learn why I have it.

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and feelings, Phil. We all appreciate it. 🙂

  13. I read this post over and over again… I read it so many times, I almost memorized it. I wanted to feel it as much as I could. It came in the middle of my toughest time… it just feels that my ride doesn’t want to end tho. It’s like the ride has turned into a life style… and it feels that I no longer can handle the pain… it feels like I’ve drowned in a sea of deep pain… and for now, this post, and only this post is what distracts me from the ugly reality. So Phil, thank you from the deepest place in my heart.

  14. Honestly I can’t remember the last time I’ve ever commented on a blog but… here I am. Anyway first I just want to say that I think these blogs are good for you, and not just you but anyone , like it’s a kind of therapy, it makes you think more about things, and writing things down and getting it out of your head can be refreshing and eye opening, I think I should write a blog as well, mostly because that way I don’t have to talk to myself and I can feel like I’m talking to people and not alone in a room typing on a computer and that my words are being listened to.. but anyway, I believe that everything happens for a reason and it’s all about how you look at the situation, it may seem bad now and it might actually be bad, but in hind sight it’ll turn out for the best, you just have to make good choices, I mean that’s all it really comes down too, making good choices in life, and it’s all one step at a time, even when the situation is out of your control, you are still in control of how you deal with it, so yes take that ride of that emotional rollercoaster that you didn’t ask to ride on, but you can either scream or enjoy it, or if not enjoy at least see how much you’ve learned so that next time you’re ready. Did this relate to your post..kinda..I don’t know I’m just typing and thinking here.

  15. In my interpersonal communications class, I learned that people tend to have this overall idea of who they are (self-concept) by age 30, and are more resistant to change (in themselves) after that. I also learned that being flexible in who you are and differentiating between personality and behavior is important. Because you can’t really change your personality, but you can change your behavior (how you look at and react to things). Not that it’s easy to do so by any means, but it’s just something I thought was interesting.

  16. Thank you so much for this, Phil. I have been feeling very alone and sad lately. In 2 months I will be staying at a hospital to receive treatment for my OCD. I’m only 15, so I don’t know anyone who has had a similar experience, and I feel very alone at school. It’s constantly on my mind- being away from my family, having to face my fears- and I feel like I have no one to talk to. This post was so beautifully written, and it inspired me to start writing again. I’ve decided to write about my experiences and feelings before, during, and after hospitalization.
    This post also made me feel a little less alone. Sure, maybe I don’t know anyone who has had to stay in a hospital, but I’m sure that everyone has carried a big weight on their shoulders at some point in their life. Thank you for opening my eyes to this; I am going to remember it everyday.

  17. Wow, I love how you interpreted the movie and sadness’ role in the movie so differently from how I saw it. It’s very interesting how you said it, and very true as well. Everyone gets a turn. How I’ve always said it to myself was that “tables turn”. Someone who is going through immense joy in their lives may someday encounter tragedy, and vice versa. No single moment is forever, and it’s always ups and downs. When life is good, cherish it. When life is bad, wait for it pass. I also wrote a blog post on Inside Out, this Pixar movie really touched me in a personal way too. The moment hit me when Joy had the epiphany that Sadness had to co-exist with her and at that moment, I wondered why it had to be that way. If you have some spare time from your Wongfu activities, check it out!

  18. I’m Sadness too, and I cried when Bing Bong sacrificed himself as well. What’s wrong with being sad and enjoying being sad? That’s why I loved Inside Out so much, the message that you can’t live without Sadness connected with me so much. There’s a fear and disgust amongst people of being sad. When someone is asked which character they are in Inside Out, they always avoid Sadness, just like they would avoid anyone who embraces their less happy feelings because they don’t want their negativity to spread. There’s a beauty in wallowing in darker feelings. Just as when you’re in the dark you become more in touch with your other senses that you overlook when you can see the things around you, when you’re always happy and content with everything, you won’t be able to know what you actually want. Of course, being sad all the time isn’t amazing either, but what I mean is, people who avoid Sadness are actually less happy than those who embrace it. Why I’m saying all this in reply to your post is because I feel like you’ll understand it. Not many people understand this, so whenever there is someone who does, it’s an amazing thing.

  19. Thanks for this. I just went through a breakup and although it is exasperating to feel that none of my relationships will ever work out (wedding season is here and I was a bridesmaid in 2 this past weekend), I do feel stronger than most and feel that emotionally, I have gone through more and am a better person because of it. I also think being sad has allowed me to shift my focus and reorganize my life into what is more important to me – an opportunity for new beginnings and what not. It also takes will power to get yourself out of this sad state – a power that pushes you through it, not around it – and this will power always seem to give me a boost in self-confidence, in the knowledge that I love me enough to see me through.

  20. Yayyyy! It’s not privileged thinking at all. “Everyone gets a turn” is such an awesome way of putting it, that’s why I loved Inside Out so much. I think we are generally very unfair in the way we treat negative emotions, we want them to go away as soon as they arrive. If a crying child came to visit you, you would let him stay for as long as he wanted. Maybe the reason why you keep wanting to touch the blue orb is cause you were never allowed to touch it properly. Thanks so much for the honest blog post!

  21. I watched Inside Out but did not have particularly strong feelings about it until reading your post. I have a tendency to just pick the same ride over and over again because uncertainty scares me, but you brought the amusement park analogy to life for me in a way beyond the movie. Thank you for sharing these keen internal dialogues, I think I will be able to accept new experiences in a healthier way. I’ve always appreciated the rich and genuine way you express yourself and tell your story Phil. I’m a bit late to your blog, but am glad I made it!

  22. Hello. I just want to let you know that you have helped me through this post to help a patient go through his symptoms of anxiety and pensiveness. I try to help patients that do not want to rely on medications for their stress but I recently hit a wall on how to go about treating this one patient. His improvement seemed to have plateaued with the provided treatment plan. I was heading towards discharging him on maximum therapeutic benefits when I stumbled upon this blog post. It’s quite amazing to find new inspiration through a blog post (and not a scientific journal). More importantly, sharing your philosophy with this patient actually enhanced the treatment results. He’s doing a lot better now and I want to thank you. Hope this encourages you to continue inspiring people with your words as much as you have inspired this patient. Deeply humbled.

  23. Thank you for this Phil. I can relate so much, because like you I think too much and observe what’s happening on my mind and emotions too. But unlike you, I wish I could have a way of expressing it like the way you do on this blog. Being naked and telling us what you feel and think, and us identifying to it is like having a new-found friend. Nice blog 🙂

  24. Why one ride, one connection – so long-awaited? Why not many rides, many connections? One can grow and feel “butterflies in the stomach” while loving and being loved – it’s called polyamory, Phil.

  25. Thank you so much for posting this post phil, can’t agree more that easy rides are not fun and it is really necessary to take the thrills. Though sometimes the thrills come unexpectedly, that is exactly what we need right?

    Thanks bro

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