It’s Okay To Not Be Okay


You’ve always had the infallible ability to happily run through the motions of life as though you had not a single care in the world—even if on the inside, you were a mess.

Maybe it was financial troubles that robbed you of every last penny, or a family problem that demolished your already shattered home, or maybe a break up that took your heart and plucked it right out of your chest and left you completely empty. No matter what the situation, you boldly exclaim, “I’m okay.”

Those two words have become an extension of you; they’re as instinctive as the urge to breathe.

To say anything else, to act in any other way, is to disrupt the balance of the world. It feels easier to you to just avoid all inquisitive questions. Everyone expects you to smile and keep on living. So you do just that.

The days are easier to deal with; you’re surrounded by friends that keep you busy, coworkers that demand your attention, or strangers to meet. The nights are a little bit harder but still, you manage to find essays that need to be written, emails that require sending, dinner that should be cooked, and video games that should be played. However, it’s in that moment after you settle in to sleep, when you’re tucked underneath the blankets and staring into the black of a pitch-dark room, that it hits you.

It comes slowly at first, like a fog licking at your toes as it slowly creeps up before engulfing you completely. Before you know it, the tears are streaming down your face and you’re thumping your chest in that area right where your heart is and asking it to stop. The pain. It becomes unbearable in those seconds that turn into minutes and then into hours. You might fall asleep crying, or you might spend that entire night tossing and turning until it’s time for you to start your routine all over again. You say it’s okay though, just another night leading to just another day.

Today you drag yourself out of bed, you go through your morning routine and you head out to face the world again. You sit down in your first class of the day or in your cubicle at work, and you once again pick up where you left off the day before.

Only this time something’s different. So you get up from your seat and head outside. It’s there in the hallway that you see a friend and in that moment they are the most important person in the world to you. They can tell that something is off and so they ask you the question that you have been both avoiding and desperately waiting for at the same time.

“Are you okay?”

And in that moment you decide to unravel at the seams. You let your friend hold you as you cry and both of you take a seat on the floor, crumpling into a pile of limbs and tears. Maybe you babble incoherent words and explain to them what’s wrong, or maybe you just sit there and let it all out. Either way, in that moment you realize that you don’t have to be strong for everyone else.

What is it that you have to prove to the world? You’re not a robot. You’re not superhuman. You’re just a person with feelings and with problems. No one ever said that you alone had to bear the weight of the world on your shoulders. You might feel like Armageddon will come if you don’t pretend to the rest of society that everything is fine. But it won’t. And you are within your rights to have a bad day, or to take a moment for yourself to breathe. Because sometimes it hurts to even do that right?

There’s no need to subject your self to that kind of suffering. Life is full of many moments, and just as you want someone along for the good parts, to go through each of the sad ones by your self would be unthinkable. So the next time you feel like everything is crashing down, say without hesitation, “No, I’m not okay.” There’s no need to be ashamed of this.

It’s okay not to be okay.

image – Filippo Parisi