When I was younger, I had an imaginary friend. His name was Mind Man. Incredibly original and creative, I know.
Also he was a superhero/rockstar so, like me, he reached the upper limits of coolness.
He wore a cape like Superman with MM on his chest (I was a big fan of Lois and Clark back in the day) and he was absolutely real… in his own kind of way.
I’ve come to the conclusion that Mind Man was my early childhood way of trying to figure out what to do with all the emotions in my head. The main problem with emotions, I find, is that they’re just there. They come in unannounced and just make themselves at home without telling you what to do with them. Sometimes you’re not even sure how they got in.
But Mind Man made it easier. He gave me a way to vent when I couldn’t or wasn’t allowed, he sat with me when I was sad and he whispered jokes in my ear to calm me down when my stress levels got too much.
The last time I saw Mind Man, I was in the interview for a teacher training course.
I was 23 and was seated outside the interview room between a guy who was nervously chewing on a cereal bar and a girl whose hands were shaking so hard she dropped all her paperwork on the floor twice. My own heart was thumping in my ears and everyone in the room was as pale and sweaty as I was.
I looked up towards the door, behind which I would soon be interviewed, and out of nowhere I remembered him. Mind Man, with his hair in a flick on the front of his head. Mind Man, with his pointed chin, one arm on his hips and the other holding his totally awesome electric guitar.
And there he was, stood by the door for the briefest of seconds, with a grin as if to say you’ve got this. Then he disappeared. I wasn’t so nervous after that.
Nowadays, I have a different method for dealing with my emotions. I keep a journal. It’s my go-to place when I feel too stressed, or think life is spinning out of control, or I just want to rant about something. The great thing about journals is that they always listen and never judge. You can write, draw, scribble and shout as much as you want, and the next day, it will still be there, waiting for you do it all again.
I used to think journaling was a waste of time. But then again, I also used to think that emotions were stupid and that, as a guy, I shouldn’t really be affected by all that emotional mumbo-jumbo. That was a girl thing.
Yeah, I’ll admit, I had some growing up to do.
But then I read a book – Journal to the Self: Twenty-Two Paths to Personal Growth by Kathleen Adams.
This book changed the way I think about emotions. It talks about the benefits of journaling. Journaling can help you gain a deeper understanding of yourself, help you come to terms with the weird feelings you’re having. Sometimes, you just need to write stuff down to be able to process it.
I’ve learnt through my journal that, although I like to play the ‘strong, independent’ person who doesn’t need anyone, I am actually quite disappointed in my poor ability to maintain friendships. I’ve explored parts of my life that I’ve never really thought much about, why I do the things I do. I’ve learnt that, surprise surprise, emotions play a big part in my life. It’s weird how I never really knew that until I saw it in words on the paper in front of me.
I remember Mind Man and I smile. He helped me come to terms with those crazy little emotions buzzing around inside my head, but now, instead of forcing them all on him, I can explore them myself and embrace them as my own.
Mind Man played his part, but I think he’s earned a rest.