It's Okay to NOT be Okay
I am very good at hiding my emotions and struggles.
I always have been and probably always will be.
For example, in high school, my theatre teacher knew she had to ask me twice about how I was doing. Simply because, the first time she would ask, I would give her the exact same response, “I am wonderful. How are you, Doe?" That was her name, Doe. Then she would smile at me and shake her head and repeat her original question, however this time with more intention behind her words and her stare. “How are you today, Emily?” The next part of the story would be a 50/50 shot. Half the time I would smile and laugh, responding with, “I’m good, Doe, really.” To which she would nod and we would continue our conversation or rehearsal as normal. The other half of the time went slightly different. I would either burst into tears, shake my head and lower my eyes or go on a half hour tangent about how terrible my classes were or how my friends were fighting, etc. To which Doe would simply listen, nod her head when it seemed appropriate to reassure me that she cared and wasn’t bothered by my sudden outburst. It would usually end in a hug and a sigh of relief coming from deep in my chest. Followed by the dropping of my shoulders and a smile would cross my face.
I always felt better when I was finally honest in answering the second question.
Why was that so hard?
Why was it so scary to admit that I was not doing alright; that today was not simply another day filled with sunshine, flowers, and butterflies.
Because in my mind, I was the only one who experienced bad days.
I was the only one that was not running through dandelions and singing with songbirds.
I felt I was the only one with struggles and the only one that didn’t want to smile and wear makeup every single day. The only one that did not glide down the halls of high school every morning with not a care in the world. The only one that experienced mental illness. The only one that cared so much about what others thought of her she had lost sight of what I thought of myself.
I thought I was the only one not doing well.
Now, I don’t mean in a “woe is me” sort of way. I was downright embarrassed for not doing well. I felt I didn’t deserve the attention or the care of others. I felt like something was wrong with me when I would experience anxiety or sadness.
I thought (partially thanks to Instagram and Snapchat) that I really was alone in the bad days and the tough times.
To me, everyone was living an absolute fairytale and for whatever the reason may be, I was alone and struggling alone is very hard.
When Doe would ask, “How are you today, Emily?” I genuinely had such a guard up that I would automatically answer with, “I’m doing wonderful!” I would answer that way without even realizing it!
There are a ton of problems with this, but the main one I want to hit on is the problem I have been currently experiencing once again: Not honoring yourself.
And I mean not honoring yourself through your words, actions, thoughts, everything!
Recently, I have found myself down this same rabbit hole. I catch myself pretending I am fantastically overjoyed when in reality I am sort of sad and lonely some days.
I catch myself covering up the problems instead of getting to the root cause to find a solution.
I miss my friends back home and it has been a massive struggle to see them enjoying their final year of college without me.
I am unsure of what career path is right for me.
I am unsure of where I want to live and what I want to do there.
I am struggling with body image and mental clarity.
And it is okay.
It’s okay to not be okay.
It is okay to not be sunshine every morning and a party every night.
It is okay to be mopey for a few days or need to have a good cry.
It’s okay to answer honestly when people who love and care about you ask you how you are doing.
The only thing that is not okay is not honoring yourself.
The only thing that is not okay is not speaking up and challenging the social-media stereotype that everyone is fantastic and you are the only one struggling.
You are never struggling alone and the more you let others in, the less you will struggle.
I promise you that from my very own experiences.
So, I want to ask you, “How are you doing today?” And answer honestly. Don’t beat yourself up if the answer is not “wonderful” or “amazing.” Honor what your answer is. Be true to yourself and your emotions and then reassure yourself that it is okay.
Because I am not doing wonderful right now either. I am with you if you feel that way. But that does not make us any less of a person. That does not make us ugly or disgraceful, stupid or dramatic. We should not feel ashamed of being sad, depressed, unsure, anxious, or down. Because it is okay. These feelings do not last forever. In fact, they go away much quicker when you truly are honest and allow them to run their course instead of covering up or masking them away. Trust me, I have tried. And trust me, it’s going to be okay.