Entered by Rosalind Davies.
When it comes to showing emotion, what type are you? There are plenty of handy short-cuts that help us to stereotype nationalities, cultures, genders, personalities. You might be a ‘wears heart on sleeve’ type, whereas I’m more of a ‘cards close to chest’ girl.
If I’m feeling more complicated I opt for the enigmatic ‘Still waters run deep’, or the neat quip ‘less is more’.
I remember dropping the hand of my new husband during our wedding ceremony because my instinct told me that as I’d just married the guy I didn’t need to flaunt my affection. Recently, on a training course, I heard that young people, in particular, are more demonstrative. They ‘display’ negative input into their lives with a visible and tangible reaction – playing music loudly, kicking a shop door – when adults criticise them or assume they are up to no good.
Street pastors – Christian volunteers who offer practical help to those in need in the night-time environment – are used to seeing all kinds of exhibitions, often the kind that are fuelled by alcohol and heightened emotions. Although most of us are capable of containing ourselves within the normal bounds most of the time, you can probably remember a time when you allowed a whole lot more to spill out.
As a follower of #StreetPastors I read the comments from punters and the observations that volunteers themselves sometimes post, like the one about the girl who did a wee on the pavement, vomited, and then staggered off to carry on with her night out. Alcohol, adrenalin or a crowd of mates can encourage us to do things in public that would, on another night (or day) be private.
It’s on the Internet that I willingly de-privatise myself. As a Twitter user I try in a few carefully chosen words to add personality to my online presence, displaying and packaging my views, my writing and my affiliations. But this online me is challenged by the ground-level, grass-roots activism of volunteers like street pastors who have found that their faith can have a practical role in ‘public’ life as they draw alongside strangers and make their city centre a safer place at night.
That tells me that my own participation in the real lives around me isn’t about shaking off inhibitions, but taking my share of responsibility for the place where I live.