During the first two weeks of September, the annual Herbstfest was taking place in Rosenheim (where I live). It’s like a mini Oktoberfest aka a fun fair. And what is essential at any fun fair? Yes, candyfloss, of course! Even though I have to say candyfloss is one of the things in life that is much nicer in theory than in reality. It looks so cool and fluffy and is really just sugary and sticky. I can actually think of some other things in life like that – but that is for another post...
Anyway, I was even happier when I spotted a stall that sold candyfloss in different flavours including woodruff. For my German readers: Woodruff is Waldmeister – and in Germany everyone knows Waldmeister, primarily probably from the green jelly we eat as kids. I am yet to meet a non-German who knows what woodruff is. It’s a plant and it has a distinctive flavour which I cannot describe. It’s not similar to anything else I know. Here in Germany, you mostly get it in desserts (like jelly) or sweets (like sherbet) but you can also get it as herbal tea, for example. Some people know it from syrup that can also be put in beer. If you are ever in Germany, you should try it!
Well, the point of this blogpost is not actually to market Waldmeister flavoured products… But it reminded me of how certain things are indescribable. And it can be so frustrating – for everyone involved. As the person feeling “it”, it’s impossible to convey in words what we are experiencing. And yet we are desperate to share our feelings and feel understood. And this goes for any feeling: whether happy, sad, angry, excited or whatever else.
The other day, I was talking to somebody about letting go of the need to be understood. I feel that is a big one for me at the moment. One of my beliefs is that in order to experience connection, I need to be understood. When people cannot relate to what I am going through, it can feel isolating and lonely. Which adds another layer when we are already struggling with the enormity of what is happening.
When I look closer at this question, I realize that nobody can ever feel exactly what I am feeling. We have words for a lot of things, but our feelings are unique to us. Even when I try to describe the physical effects my feelings have on me, we might think those are “objective” but they really aren’t. One might argue, that this realisation leads us into even deeper frustration because now I know nobody ever “gets me” the way I get myself. That’s one option.
But I’d like to suggest another: by acknowledging that our experience of the world is subjective and that words are only ever an approximation of my inner world, I can relax. Why would I attempt the impossible (i.e. for somebody else to share my exact experience)? There’s no right and wrong about how I feel because how can anyone else judge my unique feelings? They can’t. Instead, I accept what is. I can look at it without judgement and I can decide whether or not I want to change something about it.
By all means, I can try to relay what is happening in my world to others but without any expectation for them to fully grasp it. And when I am on the other side, it is also helpful to remind myself of the above: whatever is being relayed to me might not match my own experience, it might not resonate and I might not fully understand. That doesn’t make the other person – or myself – wrong. Instead we can also be accepting and sympathetic without giving the other person the impression that they need to justify themselves.
It is what it is.