on sentimentality

{For CL}

Recently I read a blog post written by a former student from our school in Barcelona. She writes about her life and recent MS diagnosis at the age of 18.

In the post, she mentions that her father “thinks (her) writing is too sentimental”.

At first, I didn’t even recognize the “too” in that sentence… it took my brain a moment to make sense of sentimentality as a bad thing.

Upon reflection, though, I’ve been hearing this a lot lately… this criticism of sentimentality.

Me? I’m all for it… and here’s why:
1. There is enough darkness and cynicism in the world. More than enough.
2. Life is shorter than we realize and people are entitled to express their feelings about life and death and everything in between. Making sense of ones life is a worthwhile and noble pursuit.
3. In an era of vapid reality television, it takes a brave person to tell their story with all their heart.

As a self-confessed cheerful optimist, I’d like to invite the sentimentality-critics to ask themselves why sentimentality makes them so uncomfortable.

Also, I’d like to say, Rock on, sister!


  1. I struggle a lot with this question in my work. The over-educated, analytical adult me warns that my writing and artwork might be ridiculously trite if I include certain things (like idyllic childhood memories) or say too much (like how much I love and appreciate my parents.) But I’m getting over that. Life is too short to hold back. While I may be making myself vulnerable to criticism, this is more than outweighed by the positive response I get from being myself and striving for authenticity.

    1. Laura,
      Thanks for taking the risk to leave this comment. I love your phrase, “Life is too short to hold back.” Yes! I totally agree.
      I cannot imagine, at the end of my life, that I will spend any time worrying about whether people found me too sentimental. Nope – I can’t imagine that will be on my radar screen.

  2. Totally agreed! Actually I will admit that sometimes I have posted things of a sentimental nature and then deleted with embarrassment…I fear the criticism of something that is gentle to me..but I do think the world needs more heart, and more people able to express it..

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