Let’s Talk About The Bad Things Too


Life is a performance, so I’ve heard. And oftentimes, we like to give the best performance possible. Many of us like to show the world our triumphs and happiness. On the other side of the spectrum, there are those who only want to talk about the negative things that happen; they see only darkness and unhappiness. But I am sure there is a happy medium, and there is. And for those of us who are keen on being positive people and being seen as positive people, I think it is also important to not go through life being Pollyanna’s. No one can relate to Pollyanna; let’s talk about the bad things too.

Whenever people who I look up to confide in me, I am always amazed at what I learn about them. There is a tendency in our human imagination to believe that people who we deem as successful and happy are ONLY successful and happy. There is a tendency to forget that people have their own struggles and heartaches. We often get stuck trying to perform happiness that we forget that we are allowed to not be happy sometimes. And I think this performance of happiness stems from not always being honest with others and indeed with ourselves, about our state of mind.

Consider how we go through the day asking each other, “How are you doing?” I could be having the shittiest day of my life but unless you’re a really good friend or family member, the likelihood is that I’ll probably respond with, “Fine.” And I’m not insinuating that we start sharing how we’re really feeling with random strangers on the street. But I am suggesting that we don’t need to say, “Fine” to people who know and actually care about us. I am suggesting that we can tell them that we’re not doing so well and maybe if they ask, explain why.

I ran into an old classmate earlier this week. He was in Chicago visiting a family friend. He told me that he would never have guessed that I had any fears or insecurities had he not read some of my stuff online. He said he had always viewed me as annoyingly perfect. I literally laughed out loud. I told him that I had never painted my life to be remotely close to anything perfect. That ultimately I try to be happy as possible but that’s about the best I can do. And then I realized that like many people, I don’t always talk about the bad things that happen to me. Even to those who are relatively close to me.

I think part of the reason is I believe there is already so much negativity and pain in the world. And for the most part, my problems just don’t seem like that big a deal in the grand scheme of things. The other part of it is I may write online and share some thoughts freely with complete strangers on this virtual space. But I am still quite private about many things. Yet I can’t help but feel that I have sometimes made it seem like I have it all together and that I am smooth sailing. I might not go into the nitty-gritty but I want something to be clear: I am not smooth sailing. I am as confused, undecided, and sometimes as much of a hot mess as many twenty somethings are. I guess I just might be a really well-articulated and put-together hot mess.

Anyway, the bottom line is this: You know that phrase about happy people not having the best of everything but always making the most of everything? That phrase is true. But while we’re all trying to find our happiness, let’s be honest with each other that it’s not always easy and we don’t always have it figured out. And sometimes, maybe we can even tell people that our lives are pretty imperfect. If not for any other reason, just to make sure that they know that they’re not the only ones who are feeling the way they do. So that you know that you are not the only who is feeling the way you do.

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image – Liz Grace