Yesterday I hit a wall. Bad. Just a full-on emotional stop. Everything was going wrong. I felt like a failure on every level of my personal and professional life. My health issues, only getting worse. Pedagogy in the classroom, diminishing rapidly. My writing goals completely unfulfilled. This was a bad day.
I won’t shy away from it; I was in turmoil. Sobbing uncontrollably, unfocussed, and extended periods of blankly staring at a wall. The weight of everything around me was just too heavy. The fetal position was too comforting. I was not okay.
Don’t worry. Supportive family, friends, and colleagues surround me. Certainly, this is no call for help. No, this is a call for openness. For a long time, I lived in a world where all I was allowed to do was to smile. The only answer to ‘how are you?’ was ‘fine’. My only goal to make sure no one is made to feel uncomfortable by my emotional state. Don’t be too happy, sad, or angry.
Social media has only heightened this experience in recent years. We must maintain these happy-face facades. If we are going to post, we are not allowed bad days. Consequently, that causes the additional devastation of guilt if we ever experience these emotions, as if we are the only humans on the planet to experience grief. We are only putting stress on each other if we keep pretending like everything is always okay.
To clarify, I am not suggesting that we should live with our emotions on our sleeve. For instance, I don’t need to be walking weeping through downtown streets. I don’t need to be specific or even honest every time someone asks me how I am doing. But I shouldn’t shy away from telling people either. They might want to know that other people have bad days.
So, yesterday was a bad day. I am writing about it so you know that it happens to other people as well. Above all, I am telling you that -occasionally- it’s okay not to be okay.