The Beauty of the Blues: High Sensitivity and Feeling Out Loud

“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.” – Washington Irving

I saw a woman standing at a bus stop the other day, crying. She made no attempts to hide her tears or even wipe them away. She simply let them flow down her cheeks, releasing the occasional whimper. At one point, she lifted her face toward the sky. As the sun struck her moist, glistening cheeks, I wondered if I’d ever seen anything so beautiful.


I’ve been thinking a lot about sadness lately. Numerous friends of mine are enduring difficult times, and I’ve experienced a few recent bumps of my own. I’ve also been pondering the tendency many of us have to bottle it up inside. I might, if I were capable. As a highly sensitive extrovert, it’s not in my DNA. Even so, I don’t recall a time I’ve emoted freely around others without a trace of self-consciousness.

The more we allow ourselves to feel and express our emotions, the better—but that’s not always easy. Rare is the person who lets her heart show like the woman at the bus stop. Even if we manage to, there’s a fine line between showing our sadness and blithering all over the place in a not-so-socially-acceptable way. Given the choice, I say feel out loud. There’s far more risk in the opposite.

One tremendous perk of being a highly sensitive person is the ability to experience mind-blowing joy. One downside, the capacity to feel a greater depth of sadness, is worth it, and very often beautiful.

Particularly for artists, whose lives are anything but linear, marked peaks and lows are common. We’re also less understood when lows happen, which heightens our sense of loneliness. I tend to embrace such pitfalls, keeping faith that good will come, though some tumult we can’t help but chalk up to “sometimes life sucks.” One of my dearest friends lost a loved one recently; there’s little silver lining in that.

Regardless, I’m grateful anytime I can reach out to others who “get” it, and to support loved ones in similar need. Knowing that we’re not alone in our loneliness can turn the fog into a more manageable, sparkly mist. I’ve learned that repeatedly. I also know that given the opportunity, we can cultivate growth, happiness and euphoria in our lives if we choose to never give up. Sometimes that means not rushing out of sadness, but feeling our way through it with open eyes. No good comes from “snapping out of it” advice, in my opinion. More strength comes from letting ourselves feel.

5 Beautiful Facts About the Blues

1. They make us tender. There’s a lovely tenderness about sadness and heartache. There has to be, as most of it derives from love. The more tender we feel, the more empathetic and capable of giving love we become. And we want to give love, because we know what it’s like to crave it.

2. They help us appreciate what we’ve lost or hope to gain. Occasionally we’re blah “just because,” but usually, there’s a reason. That reason reveals what we care about, which makes way for gratitude and hope. I can’t think of stronger fuel than thankfulness and hope. They make us damn-near unstoppable.

3. They help us savor sunshine and rainbows. I never used to understand why Minnesotans plant tulips. They’re beautiful, sure, but they don’t last very long. Last winter, I saw first-hand the magic of those vibrant, colorful tips poking through the frozen ground. After 17 centuries five months of blizzards and subzero temperatures, spring knocked on the door! I’ve had a flower-crush on tulips ever since. Greatness doesn’t seem nearly as magical amid sunshine. Life’s rain plus sunshine equals rainbows, always.

4. They bring us closer together. Low moods can draw us closer to loved ones when we have the wherewithal, courage and fortitude to share. They also show us who we most wish to be close to, and with whom such closeness is possible. I’m pretty sure we’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who hasn’t grown closer to a loved one due to hardship.

5. They inspire us. While the occasional pity party is perfectly fine, and arguably encouraged, there comes a point when we stop settling for what we’re enduring and start dreaming up a happier near future. If life were spiffy 24/7, whey would we strive to grow or change? We really can turn life’s lemons into lemonade. Sometimes it takes a serious case of the blues to recognize the recipe.

And because this made me smile, here’s a bit of Peanuts fun. (Music! Such great medicine.) There’s not a THING wrong with crying our eyes out, or wishing to.


When have the blues helped you grow? What were the rewards? Do you let your feelings out? Do you agree with the above benefits? If you relate because you’re enduring a tough time, I hope you know that you’re not alone, not really. Lots of love, friends. 

For an inspiring post on calmness after storms, check out KM Huber’s Compassion Totters on Friday the 13th. To explore the importance of embracing our emotions for the sake of writing (and any art form, really), read Tiffany Lawson Inman’s Emotional Barrier in Fiction: Why is it so important for you to learn how to cross it? (Part One) via Writers in the Storm.