Wednesday, April 20, 2016

it's OK to feel bad

Being vulnerable and honest don't make you weak, they make you normal.

It’s time for a little heart to heart. And I know that’s a little challenging considering the face-to-screen platform we’ve got going here, but bear with me. I am inviting you to open up and share whatever thoughts that come from this post in the comments below, because I want to talk about something that’s been weighing on me a lot lately, and I’m guessing weighs on many of you as well. So here goes.
Sometimes it’s hard to admit to ourselves in a real way that things aren’t working out. We throw around phrases like “life is hard” and “I can’t adult today” for fun, but the reality is, there’s truth behind those statements.

Life is hard. Finding the right job is hard. Finding a decent job is hard. Relationships are hard. Growing up in general is really freaking hard. Even blogging, the best hobby I’ve ever had, is hard. And sometimes all you can do is sit and think about how you thought your life was going to be and count all the ways it’s not.

In general, I like to think I’m an upbeat, positive person. I don’t like bringing negativity in my life, and I’d much prefer to count my blessings — of which I have many — instead of my losses. Look, I know I have a far more rich life than so many people in this world, and I am forever grateful to God for giving me a family that loves me, friends who stand by me, good health, and so much more. But I also know that reality is a lot different than dreams, and real life often comes in between us and the life we pictured.

When I started college, all I wanted to do was write for a magazine in New York. Everything I did in school was a stepping stone on that path. But somewhere along the way, I changed. I don’t know how or when it happened; all I know is that here I am, one-and-a-half years out of college, and I have no desire to live the life I spent years dreaming about. And I don’t exactly know what my new dream is yet. All I know is I’m not there yet, and it’s scary. And I’ll be the first to admit that even I, a generally upbeat and positive person, often let myself become overwhelmed by thoughts of negativity, what ifs, and what could have been.

And it sucks. It really, really sucks. There are so many things that happen in life that you can’t begin to prepare for. So many curve balls and cliff hangers, when all you want is a map with a visible path to a set destination. How do you make peace with the knowledge that you can’t always write your own story? How do you smile and walk forward when all you want to do is stop and scream and ask someone what the hell you’re supposed to be doing and why does it seem so easy for everyone else already?

If I’m being completely honest, I go through periods where I think these thoughts more often than I’d like to admit. It’s awful and crippling and a vicious circle of me feeling bad and then feeling angry at myself for feeling bad. And it’s hard. It’s so hard to stay positive and keep that smile on my face. That’s why I’m giving you — and myself — permission to stop worrying about that smile. To stop thinking we need to put up a front so the world doesn’t see that we’re crumbling, that the ups and downs really do get to us. To just let go and let yourself be sad and angry and feel hopeless for just a second because that’s how we feel right now. And then maybe we’ll realize that everyone around us doesn’t actually have everything right either; that other people feel sad and angry and hopeless, too.

In the blogging world especially, it’s so easy to compare ourselves to the perfectly curated lives of the people we follow. But that’s the thing: they are perfectly curated. Instagram feeds don’t show the nights we spend crying into our pillows. The photos where our stomachs stick out a bit more than we like don’t make it to the blog. Every piece is thoughtfully chosen and published to create the image we want everyone else to see. That’s the reason I’m sharing my own vulnerability and writing this post: Because sometimes it starts to be overwhelming seeing all those “perfect” images and comparing them to our own “imperfect” lives. This should serve as a reminder that everyone’s life is imperfect, and everyone else is comparing, too.

So here it is: It’s okay to feel bad. It’s okay to let the smile go. It’s okay to show the world that hey, life is really freaking hard sometimes and yes, it does get to me. But just remember that you’re not alone, you’re not any worse for feeling that way, and tomorrow is a new day.

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