I once knew a lady who felt everything.

I’m not sure what her deal was but she seemed to feel so much, that she ended up needing a lot; a lot of love, a lot of attention, acknowledgment, security, acceptance, in order for her to be happy. It was as though attention, love and acknowledgment was fuel to all that feeling.

Her appetite for attention and love was quietly voracious and you’d never peg her for someone who needed because she was beautiful and intelligent and seemed to be the kind of gal both men and women would go bananas for. Of course, even the most beautiful people in the world are flawed in some ways. But I’d never imagined her to be flawed in this manner (I’d expected her to be a slob or perhaps be bad in bed), and that the flaws would run so deep.

That she did not keep these feelings secret was not as odd to me (even though where I come from, people just don’t share these things with the general public) as her insatiable hunger for the attention or acknowledgment or sympathy that her sharing generated. I wasn’t sure if that was all part of the therapy. If it was, it wasn’t working because unless a hundred people or so were responding, saying she looked good or sympathising with her situation or telling her that whatever horrible thing she did was okay because she’d come right out and admitted it, it didn’t seem to have any sort of curative impact. All it did was create more need, more hunger, and hence, more gloom and sadness and self-pity.

I wondered if anyone ever told her that she was still too young, or that there were other things in the world more worthy of the kind of attention she demanded. If anyone did, did she simply wave them away, telling them in her mind that she wasn’t like anyone else, that she was unique and hence her problems were special and deserved all that attention? Did she think that these people were incapable of empathy, choosing to believe that they didn’t care or were trying to trivialize her suffering? Did it anger her that they compared her problems to that of people in Somalia or Zimbabwe, who didn’t suffer from depression (in the American sense) because they had real, survival problems, as opposed to her navel-gazing nonsense?

People often accuse Asians, particularly the Chinese or perhaps the Japanese, as being unfeeling or that we don’t really place a lot of stock on all that emotional mumbo-jumbo. I always claim that the Vulcans are modeled after us in their ability to control their emotions – and that’s just what it is. We do feel but we just keep it checked. Why do you think our serial dramas and movies are so over the top?

And it’s not just about ‘face’. It’s also about not wanting other people to feel embarrassed or uncomfortable. It’s about respect for others, for your family and most importantly, for yourself.

There is nothing in the world that’s so bad you need to broadcast it to the whole world – unless you want the whole world to mourn with you. Nobody needs that kind of attention.

You may want it, but you do not need it.