So here’s what I do.
I explore the undercurrents. I’m a sonar in the depths. Picking up on the signals that no-one wants to hear or talk about. The despair, the pain, the misery, the gloom. Because that sort of talk is socially unacceptable. Because there’s a social pressure to avoid the undertow. Just look on the bright side! And whatever you do, be positive!
I’m calling bullshit on the social pressure to be positive ALL the time. It’s everywhere. It’s in all the best clichés. It’s in the advice you hear over coffee. It’s in the blogs full of sunshine and romance. It’s in all those uplifting quotes that people stick on your Facebook news feed. (The worst ones add a twist of guilt in for good measure: You have the power to be positive and if you’re not it’s your fault).
It’s also the currency that rules success. Especially if you’re a blogger. If you want to attract numbers and brands, be sunshine and lollipops. Everyone is in on this positivity business.
When did the dark and deep become so unpalatable? Is it just too confronting? Too depressing? Why are we so scared?
There’s nothing wrong with positivity. But I have a problem with it when it comes at the expense of being real. I’ve said this before on this blog: Being real is where the growth is. Being out of your comfort zone is where life begins. Being vulnerable is where rich connection happens. It’s good stuff.
I also have a problem with over-positivity when it becomes insensitive to people who find it enormously difficult to be positive all the time because their brain just isn’t wired that way. In fact, the chemicals in their brain have altered. Or the trauma they have experienced is blocking that ability.
Some lives have experienced more hardship than others. Until we have truly walked in the shoes of another person, who are we to tell them how they should feel or what attitude they should be having?
Social media is the worst for this pressure. A typical sentiment I wake up to is: Everyone has hardship, but it’s how you deal with it that matters. Look at the glass half full! All very well. But, imagine hearing this and knowing your feelings don’t (and can’t) measure up. Imagine trying to battle that negative spiral, but the fog in your head won’t budge.
I’m sick of being made to feel guilty about the way my brain is operating. Some days I get depressed. This is not a choice. And I fight and fight and fight it. I climb so hard out of the spiral. But some days the spiral gets me. This doesn’t mean that I am a failure in this social expectation (or at life). It doesn’t mean that my worth is compromised. Feeling like a failure for not being more positive in my failure is insult to injury.
I am not saying it isn’t good to be positive. Reading positive things can be very encouraging. What I’m saying is, can we be real too? Can we stop beating ourselves up for not being positive all the time?
There is so much relief in allowing ourselves to experience the gamut of emotions in our human make-up. Accepting and loving all our emotions is healthy.
Today I’m going to embrace my gloom. Love my unhappiness. Accept it, and find freedom in being real with it. I might find hope. Or I might not. But if i do if won’t be out of pressure from a fancy Pinterest quote. It will be born out of grief, brokenness and a gutful of pain. It will surface from my human desire to find it.
It will be profound, solid, and tangible. The real thing.