All Vibes Club: Why I'd Rather Feel Everything
Danielle Evans / WNW Member
Positivity is having a moment in the creative world, and with mounting political, social, and ecological tensions, it's no wonder why many of us want "Good Vibes Only." We want reasons to climb out of bed ahead of the world trying to bury us in timeline sorrows. Yet hyper-positivity isn't sustainable for those on the bestowing or receiving end. At risk of sounding like a downer, I find myself disinterested in vibing strictly in a positive direction.
This isn't to say I don't support my friends with good vibes only messages. I find the most positive creatives are privately in touch with the full spectrum of feels. They allow themselves space to accept the good and the bad and channel whichever towards a better outcome. If you've taken risks or found yourself in the midst of tragedy, you already know reframing and positive thinking can light the clearest path out of trauma. The sunny side taken too far looks like denial and the emotionally congested decade that shaped my grandparents. The world was only cheery, happy, and bright now that the shadow of war had passed. My parents grew up in homes unwilling to acknowledge complex feeling, and it fuels my introspection.
All Vibes living is admittedly the hard road. This is evident in swift exactness of cancel culture; we have to teach ourselves to hold bandwidth for multiple perspectives and would rather shut them out. These complex emotions unite us because we are complicated creatures. Complex emotions require more nuance and therefore more emotional intelligence to ensure the concept lands. Complexity invites ambiguity into the viewer’s interpretation, opens the door to dialogue and potential misunderstanding. When a concept pushes us, it requires our maturity; adulthood is the ability to carry conflicting emotions simultaneously. Understandably we shy away from vagueness. All Vibes are scary if we’ve not grappled with them.
All emotions are load-bearing, and the extremes carry both heaviness and lightness to them. It's easy to associate more weight with our darker feelings, but to misapply heaviness to strictly "negative" feelings is folly. There is immense lightness in sadness when it "frees us to feel something else," as poet Nayyirah Waheed notes. I find heaviness in loving someone, truly accepting them for their strengths and their flaws. Aggressive social justice messages can give lightness to urgency. Have your ever been moved to call, donate, or March on behalf of a stirring campaign? True love is sacrificial, selfless, and compromising by nature, which means the bearer will embrace the pitfalls of their beholden's flaws. It is both heavy and light. Love costs the feeler, and the cost bears positive associations if the returns on those emotional investments are fruitful. Posts that receive my greatest engagement often grapple with mental health, lost love, and the pursuit of truth. This tension feeds my imagination because I’m grounded in the knowledge that life doesn’t always develop as hoped, and there’s an audience for that.
I love probing grief, sass, anger, and encouragement through my work because it reaches people where they are. As much as I enjoy ingesting bright colors and scrolling through nostalgic subject matter, I sometimes find catharsis through darker subjects. Light themes and messages in this era are used to help us forget, whereas darker ones make us remember. There is freedom in accessing deeper truths through the creative process. They tend to stick with us longer, impact our worldview, deepen the hue of our experiences. Digging past the veneer of Good Vibes for something real creates a paradoxical effect: it dissolves factions in politics, ethnicity, industry, and creed. Diversity in storytelling illustrates this concept beautifully. Inject an intersectional protagonist into a good plot. This character unveils a micro and macro truth; viewers can see themselves in the character’s nuances while most audience members find connection in the broader themes. Within a resonant storyline, the protagonist matters very little while mattering very much.
In which Vibes should we trust? Joy is an elegantly simple package for finding permission to feel all The Feels, the crane capable of lifting emotional loads. Diversity is statistically proven to raise business and bolster markets. The same is true for diversity of thought and feeling. Acceptance of this spectrum leads to a richer dialogue, and a deeper human experience. Ugly things can both repulse and move us to appreciate beauty and the elegance of imperfection. More importantly, identifying heavy things moves us to gratitude of experiences that make us feel lighter. As the world becomes more chaotic and combative, holding space for full expression becomes crucial to our collective health.
WNW Member Danielle Evans is an art director, lettering artist, speaker, and dimensional typographer. She’s worked with the likes of Disney, Target, the Guardian, PWC, (RED), McDonald’s, Aria, Condé Nast, Cadillac, and would love to work with you.
Illustration by WNW Member Jason Raish