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Why An Award-Winning TV Star Decided to Write a Book About Emotions

Why An Award-Winning TV Star Decided to Write a Book About Emotions

As Sue Heck on ABC's The Middle, Eden Sher plays one of the most endearing—and, at seven years running, enduring—characters on television. But it's not just an act. IRL, the 24-year-old actress and writer is the kind of girl you want to be best friends with because she just totally gets you. Sounds like a cliché, but read her new book and you'll instantly get it. The Emotionary is a genius work in which Eden named all the hundreds of emotions you're constantly feeling that have never before had a name. Like, for instance, "ambiviculty," the anxiety of having to make decisions. Consider it your newest must-read—and the ultimate FU to anyone who's ever tried to invalidate your feelings. Keep reading to find out what inspired her to write it.

A lot of people (bad people!) tell girls to either ignore or at least reign in their emotions. We recently wrote about a study that says not being in touch with your emotions means not being in touch with your body, either. Yikes. Why is this so important to you?
I'm aggressive about being open about your feelings. My feelings have always been so extreme. For me, there's very little difference between feeling them physically and emotionally. When I'm feeling emotionally bad, I'm feeling physically bad, and vice-versa. It was always impossible for me to express feelings without physically expressing them.

Anger, for me, is like full-body tense, and same for happiness—I have to be jumping up and down. When I was younger, it wasn't conscious, like, "I need to express my emotions." It was involuntary. There was no hiding anything. When I got a little older, people started telling me things like, "That's not appropriate," so I consciously calmed myself. I started suppressing what I needed to when I needed to, and I found myself getting literally physically ill.

One of my personal favorite words in the entire book (and I have many!) is "inrelaxability," the anxiety of having free time. How do you deal with that?
I...don't. I was freaking out when the book first came out. I worked on it for so long. I was talking to Charlie McDermott, who plays Axel on The Middle with me, and said, [sobbing voice] "I just don't know if I'm ever going to write anything good again." And he was like, "Um, relax for a second." I can't take a break. I'm bad at it. And sure, there are times when I turn everything off, maybe go somewhere, but I don't know. It’s not easy.

So you're a TV actress and a published author, but you still feel like you're not doing enough? That's cause for a lot of emotions.
What helps is when I realize that someone I idolize feels the same way, like when I get a glimpse that they're not as confident as I thought. There was one time when I was doing a scene with Patty Heaton, and she killed it. She just killed it. And then she finished, and she thought it was bad! I realized that nobody ever feels good, and I'll never feel good, so I can just relax, because we'll all never feel like everything's good enough.

You wrote this book after a bad breakup—and months of bottled up emotions. What’s your best advice for dealing with a breakup, besides writing a book?
Brace yourself. I'm not going to put it lightly; it's not going to be easy. When I went through my breakup, it's hilarious looking back on it. But I remember feeling like I was never going to get out of it. I remember feeling like I was never going to not be angry; I was never going to get over him, and I was never going to forgive him. And all the things people would say, like, "It's not going to last forever," just didn't help.

Specifically, I remember my therapist—my first therapist, who really tried—told me there's no love like your first love. And I remember being so angry. But in hindsight, I get it. I’ll never feel the same about someone as I did about my first love. In fact, I’ll feel better about it. The highs were so high, and the lows were so low, but you don’t want to relive that. The only reason the highs felt so high is because the lows are so low.

So pick up her book, and let your emotions out. After tonight's election results, you're probably going to have a lot of them.

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