Among my friends, family members, and even acquaintances, I am known as the happy-go-lucky person. I come off as being bubbly, happy, and optimistic…and for the most part, I am. I surround myself with people I love, I find myself constantly laughing, and I make a conscious effort to focus on the positive parts of life that are often overlooked. But because I am known for being animated and cheerful, people tend to assume that I am constantly, continuously, and consistently happy. I am regularly told by people that they wish they were as optimistic as me, and that I am always able to brighten their day with my positive, sunny persona.
Throughout my life, I found that people liked me most when I was happy, so I played into the part. Now, it has become part of my identity, and on days when I am genuinely not happy, I feel the need to suppress my negative emotions, and give the world what they want to see. I am not only afraid of letting myself down when I feel sad, but letting down the people I love.
I tend to suppress emotions that are negative, and put on a smiling face for everyone to see instead. Ideally, if I shove all the overthinking, the unexplainable sadness, the feeling of being lost, and the insecurity deep into the back of my brain and let it sit back there for long enough, by time I actually get around to uncovering those feelings, they wouldn’t matter as much, and I’d go ahead and properly secure them again, to sit in the back of my brain forever.
I’ve always felt that if I feel sad, it must have a valid reason to be justified. If I was in pain, it didn’t hold validity unless it was physical, bodily hurt. I had never experienced the unexplainable, dark, aching sadness that made it hard to get out of bed, hard to maintain relationships with people I love, and even harder to acknowledge, until recently.
I’ve always felt that being honest with my feelings creates an uncomfortable state of vulnerability, and acknowledging my sadness or pain only makes me confused and frustrated about why I feel that way. Shoving the bad feelings in the back of my brain where I know exactly where they are and exactly how to not let myself feel them has always given me the control I need to be comfortable and continue on being happy and smiley.
Now, I am beginning to realize how harmful it is to bottle up all the sadness I have been feeling, because there’s so much that I don’t have the brain capacity or energy to continuously pretend like I am fine anymore.
So here I am, acknowledging that I am not okay, and accepting that it is okay to not be okay.
I still have days where I am genuinely happy, and I have days where my sadness feels like a 100 pound sandbag weighing me down. I am beginning to learn that both are valid, and deserve to be treated as such. You don’t have to water down your emotions to be worthy of love, and you don’t have to hide behind a smiley persona to please the people around you.
There comes a point where we all run out of steam and feel sad, lost, frustrated, and defeated. It is okay to embrace our feelings regardless of what they are, and to notice that they are important. It’s okay to admit that you can’t always do it on your own, and it’s especially important to accept that you don’t have to be happy all the time, and that the people who matter will be willing to help you up when you feel down.
Begin to acknowledge and embrace your feelings, regardless of whether they are positive or negative. Be kind to yourself on days when you feel weak, and be proud of yourself for the bravery it takes to acknowledge and accept how you feel. You’ve got this.