This is part one of the “I’m All Ears” series I posted about on my social media, where I asked you to ask me your unanswered questions about the world and all its perils.
In short, I don’t.
See, we live under this immense pressure to be happy at all times, no exceptions. “Turn that frown upside down!” and “Give us a smile!” are things we hear all too often. Being unhappy is socially unacceptable. It’s unfashionable. It’s “boring”.
But sometimes, it’s necessary. Sometimes, you need to sit with the negativity for a little while and let it teach you its lessons. Let your eyes adjust to the darkness, just for a little while, so that when the light shines again, you really see the difference.
Trying to force yourself to be positive at every second of the day for the rest of your life is, frankly, pure bullshit. Not to mention exhausting. Going through a break-up? Sit in bed, eat ice cream and cry for as long as you want. Lost a friend? Sit with the weight of that new emptiness until your scales adjust. Hate your job? Use the negativity to fuel your creativity (or your search for a new one). But whatever you do, don’t force yourself to see the situation positively before you’ve absolutely learned all you can from the other side.
Once you have, use your life lessons as your raft to safety. Don’t sit in the darkness too long for fear of what the light bears. Allow yourself the liberty to move on from negative occasions. I personally have the tendency to drift back to thoughts and memories that make my blood boil and my heart sink. Then I remind myself that at that particular moment, I am the only person sitting in this darkness and depriving myself of the light just beyond the border. If there’s no lesson for me there, why should I bother staying?
I do appreciate, however, how sometimes, it can get a little too hard to pull ourselves out of the negative – even when there’s no particular downward slump causing it. It can feel like swimming in sticky black treacle… just so much easier to give up and sink down than it is to keep on trying to swim to the dry shore.
If you feel like that sounds a little too familiar, do yourself a favour: go on Google maps.
See that small minus button on the right? keep pressing it, over and over, until your location is nothing but a pixel in the sea of millions of pixels floating on your screen. Remind yourself that you’re a part of an ecosystem. As much as you’d like to think it, you’re not entirely in control of your destiny. Trust timing, trust fate, trust a greater reason. Once you let go of that need to control the uncontrollable, the light will start shining through, little by little, until the darkness doesn’t feel so sticky anymore.
If you’d like to submit a question anonymously, I’m all ears.