“In each of us lie good and bad, light and dark, art and pain, choice and regret, cruelty and sacrifice…no one can live in the light all the time.” ~ Libba Bray
Recently, a colleague of mine commented on one of my Instagram posts.
He said, “Suck it up! The world isn’t perfect. Make yourself happy and stop being whiny about it. You’re better than that.”
I’m better than that? Well, f*ck you.
A rage erupted inside of me because this person didn’t even know what was happening in my life. Suck it up? Make myself happy? Suggesting that I’m less than because I’m experiencing an emotion?
Wow. That’s a whole lot of pressure to put on anyone.
I live a pretty joyful, positive, uplifting life. If you ask anyone who knows me to describe me, most would use the words: positive, peppy, and happy. And I work hard to be that way as often and as openly as I can be. I put myself out there through my writing and on my social media pages, which I’ve chosen to make public because I’m fiercely passionate about inspiring, motivating, and helping people I don’t even know. But you know how I do that?
I’m real. I share the raw, uncomfortable stuff. Not the five minutes of happiness from my day or week, but the everyday ups and downs and highs and lows of life.
Because the reality is that this is what most of us are experiencing in our own lives.
The illusion of happiness is just that—an illusion. I think that in our quest to constantly “be happy,” and always strive to be positive, we’re making ourselves feel a whole lot worse.
Yes, it’s certainly a much more comfortable place to live—joyful, positive, enlightened, viewing the glass as half full instead of half empty. But are we missing out on something when we chase after this, when we berate ourselves for falling short and, God forbid, falling into a state that is even remotely less than happy?
Are we all putting too much pressure on ourselves to, as my colleague so eloquently stated, “Suck it up, make ourselves happy, and stop whining?”
Are we supposed to believe that we are “better than other people” if we’re able to present a false happy face to the world when we’re having a bad day or going through a challenging time in our lives?
Well, if we are, we shouldn’t—because there are real gifts and juicy nuggets of self-awareness that sprout out of the darkest and most difficult moments of our lives.
For anyone who feels the constant need to force themselves to be happy all the time, here’s what you’re missing out on:
Full, deep relationships and the unearthing of your beautiful and complicated shadow side.
The messy and transformative discomfort that leads to authenticity in every area of your life.
The magic of delving beneath the surface of what you think there is, in order to discover what’s really there.
You miss out on seeing who actually shows up for you during these confusing, strangely beautiful moments. These are the people who dive into the trenches with you, grab a shovel, and start digging alongside you because they’re just as curious to see what treasures they may find.
Sometimes, amazing relationships emerge from not being happy. Who wants a fair-weather friend who can only be there with us when we’re putting on a false front and pretending to be easy breezy, even if there’s sh*t bubbling up in our lives that we’re wrestling with.
I want people who can look me in the eye when I’m barely there at all, when I’m falling apart, when I’m not my best self, when I’m being unreasonable and weak (and maybe even a little bit whiny), and say: “Don’t worry friend. I got you.”
I want to see what amazing and unexpected things come out of my walk with darkness. I want to see what magic I can pull out of those moments and what kind of opportunities I can manifest from the places I’ve been that weren’t so pretty.
I want to see who in my life will look at me and find me to be more powerful, more beautiful, and sexier than hell when I cry out for help, fall on my face, and make a thousand more mistakes before I get it right.
So you know what? Why don’t we stop trying so damn hard? Why can’t we just be ourselves and embrace the sadness, anger, confusion, depression, and insanity when it visits?
You’re normal. You’re human—embrace that! Watch what happens as you pass through your next storm and let go of your attachment to being happy.
Watch who you become because of it.
You’ll look back and never work so hard for happiness again.
Author: Dina Strada
Image: Pixabay; Author’s own
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Copy Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Social Editor: Catherine Monkman