to feel things, to say things

I’ve been struggling with something for a while… about a month now actually. My problem? I feel too much. I am Amanda Morrison, yes, but I am also compassion, sadness, anger, empathy, joy, and confusion simultaneously wrapped into one human being. And it hurts. It’s a privilege to care deeply for others, but I also hurt deeply for them. These past few days I have really been hurting.

I’ve been wanting to write a post about feeling too much for some time now–it seems that life always has a way of reminding you of things when it’s just the right time. Or honestly, maybe it’s too late. I’m not sure. But what I do know is that on Monday night I was at dinner with my debate squad and took a “restroom break” to talk to my friend Patricia. Our discussion centered around how I had a rough day because I was simply feeling deeply. My debate career is coming to an end, my times with my best friend are now limited to the scope of a summer before we go our separate ways, people chose to attack some of my insecurities today… I just had so many feelings. The conversation was helpful and was left on a good note. But the next thing I know, I’m back at the table reading through Facebook, and I discover that one of my friends I did debate with for two years passed away.

Commence the pain. Commence the tears. Commence feeling everything so very deeply.

It’s not fair. My sweet friend Austin Clark and I will never again share laughs about silly duo interpretation scripts, or enjoy a snack together at a tournament. I’ll never get to like another one of his crazy Instagram selfies. He has one of the most picture perfect smiles. I use the present tense “has” because I like to think he’s smiling at me right now. I sure hope so.

I think it’s interesting, the timing of all of this. Here I am, doing what I love most, when I receive the news that my sweet debate friend is off to meet Jesus. Austin made this activity brighter. So now I dedicate this–my last moments of high school debate–to my sweet friend, who made rooms and cities and human lives brighter with his smile and laugh, to someone I wish I would’ve known more about, and to the person I wish I would’ve had the chance to help rescue from his darkness. He was light, but he lived in darkness. Sometimes I think we all feel like that.

My deep feelings of sadness and pain remind me of the book I just read by Jamie Tworkowski, a brilliant writer and the founder of To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA). TWLOHA is an organization dedicated to bringing hope to those living with depression and/or suicidal thoughts. His book If You Feel Too Much is incredible, and made me feel even more deeply than I already did, but one quote really stood out to me:

“Maybe this is okay, maybe this is the way that I was made, to feel things, to say things.”

I like to believe that this is what I was made for. To use inspiration from Austin to be more of a light to others, to bring hope to those in dark places, and to feel deeply and be proud of who I am and to speak up and speak out. After all, I have the privilege of feeling today. Some don’t. I’m trying to be thankful.

So here’s to my Austin. And all of the others like Austin that I don’t know but wish I did. To those who bring sun to dark places–thank you. We all could use a bit more sunshine. At least I know I could.

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I miss you so much already Austin. Thank you for the many laughs, sweet friend.

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