I am well acquainted with the word “overdramatic.” That word and its synonyms are in the backbones of my DNA, the mitochondria of my cells, and run through my veins alongside my blood. I’ve been called extreme, a master of emotional parkour since the day I was born. I spent the entirety of grade nine being advised to join drama based on the everything about me. I’ve been told that I leave mountain ranges made of molehills everywhere I go.
To be fair, I totally do.
Any kid who lets an appreciation for the five-minute baseball scene from Twilight spiral into a goth phase spanning several months can hardly be called rational. You have to understand – when your kid actively seeks out mirrors to watch themselves cry in, “overdramatic” is a perfectly acceptable description.
Though my mom couldn’t claim to understand my theatrics, she never used “overdramatic” as a weapon. It was a word as innocuous as tall, or loud – something that I simply was, neither positive or negative. Sure, I posed for photos like a runway model with scoliosis, but why wouldn’t I? What’s the harm in being a little extra?
If you asked my seventh-grade self that question, she would have told you that “extra” was an offense punishable by death. The great villain of our story, middle school, had reared its head and trampled my idea of “overdramatic.” My definition of the word began to deform until overdramatic meant hysterical, girly, queer. This word, this unchangeable fact of my existence, this word was an insult. Eventually, when my mother said dramatic, I heard weak.
I stopped posing for photos. I vowed to never cry in school again. I got hurt by people who loved me and kept it to myself. I kept my molehills molehills – and started ignoring the mountains altogether. Ironically enough, in an attempt to look strong, I bent to the whims of the world and became a massive coward.
Now, you can probably gather from my flowery metaphors that I am a fan of prosing around, but I want to make this very, very clear. There is nothing weak about being dramatic; it strips you of your armour and throws you into life at 100 miles an hour. You feel bear hugs and brutal attacks with the same unprotected nerve endings. You risk destruction every day. If any of you saw yourself in seventh-grade me, please understand that it takes a tremendous amount of strength to be a drama queen. The urge to do Too Much is in your veins, and you’ll become a zombie if you try to purge yourself of it. I’m afraid if I never learned this lesson, I’d be undead as we speak.
Thankfully, in eleventh grade, I succumbed to my tendencies, shaved my head, and starting dressing like a soulless Victorian vampire instead of feeling like one. Being dramatic brought life back into living, and I want to convince you to release that little bit of Extra that you keep under wraps.
The beauty of being overdramatic is that it makes everything remarkable. You’re never just happy – you’re ecstatic because this moment right now is so flawless that you need to commit it to memory before it disappears. You start to appreciate those lulls between laughter with friends, the sight of an unusually large beetle, all the little things that wouldn’t matter otherwise. You’re not grading on a curve anymore; everything can be something beautiful and significant and worth notice.
While being dramatic can bring more joy into life, it comes with the side effect of amplifying all the other not so pleasant emotions that we bear. Sadness is felt in the marrow of your bones, and anger is so potent that your ears roar with the words you wish you could scream. Negative emotions can be emotional Armageddon, but I consider them a feature, not a bug. When you feel, really feel, your emotions, you can’t just brush them off. You can’t pretend that something isn’t bothering you – you are locked in a room with your feelings, and you aren’t leaving until they’re dealt with. You’re forced to come out of everything with a lesson, forced to learn about yourself in the hard way, and forced to confront your feelings so you can properly let them go. It hurts, God, does it hurt, but you come out of it far stronger than you would have if you parroted your millionth “it’s fine” and tried to move on.
Being overdramatic is not living life to the fullest; it is living life until it overflows its container and spills out onto the floor. I don’t claim to know what happens after life draws to a close, but I, for one, want to get my money’s worth while I’m here.
I understand that not everyone is built to thrive in extremes. Not all of you are going to leave this Ted Talk and become cartoon characters like I have, and that’s perfectly acceptable. However, I want you all to humor me. I want you to spend an ungodly amount of time making tomorrow’s breakfast the most flawless meal you’ve ever consumed, and I want you to savour every bite. I want you to stop hiding your mouth behind your hand when you laugh and cackle with your head thrown back. I want you to snort, if you have to, and then laugh even harder because of how ridiculous you sound.
I want you to find mirrors to cry in. I want you to go and make breathtaking mountain ranges out of molehills.