I woke up one morning in July and felt a familiar, foreboding feeling.
You might have experienced this feeling.
Like there’s a shadow slowly creeping over you, but you can do nothing but lie there powerless underneath it as it swallows you whole.
Like today’s just another day to get through, just another series of checkmarks, mundane conversations and things that you don’t really want to do.
That “I want to lie in bed all day,” feeling, that “why am I feeling this way?” feeling. It was a feeling that started out as deep, dark and melancholy, but quickly morphed into frustration.
I thought I was past this point, I thought I was better. I thought I was okay.
And I was. And I am.
But no one is better past the point of feeling.
Better is not the best, and okay is not synonymous with happy, or joyful, or fulfilled.
I was so perplexed by my own thoughts and feelings, ashamed even, that I should feel this hollow emptiness gnawing at me without any explanation. I encountered this wave of exhaustion, this sudden shock of shame, this burning, boiling, blooming anger inside me toward my tumultuous emotions, struck me as something to be feared, fought, and faced. But that wave of feeling was just that. A wave.
If there’s anything I’ve learned from my 20 years of being a messy, complicated human being, it’s that you don’t just wake up one morning to find that every painful emotion has disappeared.
You don’t draw back your curtains to see the clouds parted and hear the birds singing, and you don’t emerge into the world and find it a brighter place. You don’t choose how you feel or when and where you feel it or how long it will last or how soon it will end.
We are emotional creatures by design and would not feel emotions so deeply if they did nothing. They do. They connect us to ourselves, to each other, and to the world at large.
Walking through the world with all of our stigmas and scars tacked onto our backs like a note someone else wrote doesn’t make it any better. It’s hard to see pain and suffering, and it’s hard to feel it, too.
It’s hard to do new things because they’re too scary, or do old things because they’re too worn out. It’s hard to face our fears every single day and expect them to suddenly become less frightening. It’s hard to love yourself when the world screams at you not to.
And sometimes it’s hard to love the world when it breaks your heart in a million ways every day.
I suppose this is the part where I tell you, “But wait! It gets easier! There’s a brilliant flash of light and you realize everything you need to do to get out of the hole you’re in and start living the life of your dreams!”
But unfortunately, I can’t tell you that, because well…it doesn’t always get ‘easier,’ — at least not entirely.
Therapy won’t stop you from breaking down crying on those nights spent alone, but it will give you guidance to see those feelings through.
More money won’t stop you from worrying about your well-being, but it will give you the financial peace to address the underlying issue.
More friends won’t stop you from feeling lonely and a new significant other won’t banish the ghosts of past loves, but they will show you that there is more to your story than what has happened so far, that it is still being written today.
The people, places, paychecks, and things that we sit in anticipation for, whether they’re healthy or unhealthy, won’t take away from the fact that being a multi-dimensional human being is a full-time job and a part-time pain in the ass.
But beneath all of the questioning and the seeking and the emptiness and the pain, there lies the overwhelming comfort that this pain is nothing but a wave. And joy and peace and love, too, will come in waves, too.
But the true healing doesn’t lie in the pursuit of the peace at the expense of the pain, the chase for the love in expense of the loss; it comes from meeting every roadblock and loving every scar, hitting every wall and falling down more than a few times.
Because the moment we stop resisting the undeniable fact of life that, yes, we will suffer and burn and break in more ways than we can count, we start to embrace the parts of ourselves that are siphoned off in the pursuit of that unattainable, aspirational image of a “happy” life.
Life is too short to just be happy.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want “happy.”
I want angry and joyful and blissful and scared. I want sad songs and love songs and songs sang out loud. I want sunshine and rainstorms and winds at record-high speeds. I want good days and bad days and days when I’m too tired to form an opinion on my day. I want exciting, boring, mundane, just okay.
I don’t want one shade of purple, I want the whole damn color spectrum, the whole rainbow of human experience.
We keep waiting for things to get easier, but they won’t, honey. You’ll just get used to the difficulty, the messiness, the madness of being a human being.
And that is a beautiful thing.