Winona Ryder: Being sensitive isn't a bad thing

I started watching Netflix’s “Stranger Things” this week. (I know, I know, most of you probably finished the whole season a month ago. So no spoilers, please!)

In the show, Winona Ryder’s character Joyce Byers is treated like she’s crazy and like she has to be handled with care or she’ll break. All because she’s emotional about the disappearance of her youngest son.

But, in that situation, what mother wouldn’t be? What’s so bad about being emotional?

In an interview with New York Magazine, Ryder said, “There’s a line in the show where someone says (of her character), ‘She’s had anxiety problems in the past.’ A lot of people have picked up on that, like, ‘Oh, you know, she’s crazy.’ And I’m like, ‘Okay, wait a second, she’s struggling.’ Two kids, deadbeat dad, working her ass off. Who wouldn’t be anxious?

I remember, when I was taking a course in Women’s Studies at Oakland University, our professor wrote down a list of adjectives that were stereotypically male or female. Some words associated with men were adventurous, ambitious, assertive, confident and strong. Women had words like affectionate, anxious, emotional, meek and needy. When asked which column seemed more positive, everyone in class said, “The male adjectives.”

Our teacher said, “Whether you’re male or female, you need traits from both of these columns to be a well-rounded person.”

It makes me sad that, when a man or woman is called “emotional” or “sensitive,” it’s usually an insult. But, in her interview, Ryder proudly stands up and, like her “Stranger Things” character, describes herself as “sensitive.”

“I am supersensitive, and I don’t think that that’s a bad thing,” said Ryder, who has publicly talked about her depression in the past.

She said that, instead, being emotional is a sign of the sophisticated processing of an intelligent, mature adult, according to New York Magazine.

I, too, consider myself "sensitive" (although I'm also strong and ambitious as well). And, my share of times, I've been criticized for being this way.

But I think being sensitive also makes me empathetic, a deep thinker, more creative, sincere, forgiving and a good friend. And these are things I wouldn't change for the world. So, next time someone calls you "sensitive" or "emotional," take it as a compliment. Like Winona Ryder says, it's not a bad thing.

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