Nicole Krysa, Meds '22
You may not know this, but you can actually wear your heart in one of two places. In the usual spot, buried deep in your chest, or right out in the open on your sleeve. If you are familiar with this latter practice, then you have likely observed that it is often discouraged. While I seek to make a case for wearing your heart on your sleeve, I will concede that it is not without reason that those who are invested in your well-being may caution against it.
The most obvious cause for concern is that when you remove your heart from the protective cage of your ribs, it becomes highly vulnerable to insult. This is frightening for certain, and I would acquiesce that your heart will inevitably experience some bruises (at the very least) when it is donned in this way. However, removing your heart from constraints also allows it to grow to its maximum capacity. When your heart is able to flourish and expand, those demarcations on its surface, the character-building nicks and bruises experienced previously, seem to shrink in comparison. Some insults might be so penetrative that they never fully fade. However, with a heart so big and robust, you may just find that you have a newfound strength to cope with, acknowledge, and conquer those former stresses.
On the other hand, society informs us that we should not be so forthcoming with our hearts. Many feel that if we are too frivolous with the information that we display, it can be utilized in a negative way to harm or humiliate us. This is yet another reason why the practice of wearing your heart on your sleeve is not well-advertised and certainly not frequently advocated for. I have observed, however, that if you are forthcoming with your feelings and experiences, and do not perceive them as ill-advised or shameful, others will also lose the ability to see them as such. Although this notion may be foreign or frightening to you, I invite you to wholeheartedly try it. After all, words can only be utilized as weaponry if you endow them with that power.
Another great benefit of wearing your heart right out in the open is that with time, others will feel that they can do the same. You might feel that it is flashy or obnoxious to be so brazen about how you wear your heart, but it is actually one of the strongest and most inspiring things that one can do. Watching you liberate yourself to be free with your emotions will not put off others as you might believe. Rather, it will empower them to do the same. As with any great change, it is difficult to be one of the revolutionaries, and you will certainly be subject to scrutiny and criticism long before widespread acceptance occurs. However, once you, and perhaps a few other bold individuals start to proudly put your hearts out on display, it will only seem natural for more to do the same. Eventually, people will forget that this was not always the way things were. You can see where this will lead, I am certain. With so many hearts displayed so boldly, the pool from which to give and receive love becomes infinitely larger and more accessible. Not only are you more readily able to give yourself emotionally to those who need it (and everybody does from time-to-time), but additionally, when you are in need of support, you may just find that you do not have to look far at all to acquire it.
Lastly, I encourage you to take your fragile heart out from time-to-time and bravely tack it to your sleeve for one vital reason. This is especially imperative as you move through your journey in this trying yet noble career path. In the coming weeks, months, and years, you will be challenged in ways that you never have before, and your innate ability to offer empathy and compassion will be threatened many times over.
Perhaps the most important reason of all to wear your heart on your sleeve is so that you can catch a glimpse of it from time-to-time and remember that it is there.
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