“How are you?”
What I’m thinking: I’m having such a hard time. I didn’t want to get out of bed this morning. I’ve cried myself to sleep for months. I’m sad, depressed, lonely and scared. My life feels so overwhelming and I don’t know how to fix any of it. I don’t feel like myself and I have no clue how to change that.
What I say: "I’m great. How are you?"
Have you ever experienced a similar encounter like the one I just described? That moment when you’ve had a horrible day, or maybe you are just going through a really tough season in your life, but feel the need to pretend like everything is fine?
Yeah, me too.
Honestly, this is probably one of the areas in my life I struggle most with. Many people, including myself, are reluctant about opening up about their struggles. We feel it might make us look weak or that our problems will be a burden to someone else. Of course, this is not true at all, but sometimes the fear of letting someone see an imperfection causes us to cater our response in an attempt to preserve an image or expectation we think others have of us. Maybe for some, it’s more of a control issue and you’re afraid that if you admit you’re struggling things will fall apart.
Do you ever let the fear of losing control keep you from revealing your true emotions?
Yeah, guilty again.
So what’s so bad about putting on a brave face all the time? Speaking from my own personal experience, bottling up fears and struggles can cause a lot of anxiety and repressed feelings. You may think you’re doing everyone a favor by smiling through the pain, but truthfully you are just hurting yourself and others more. If no one knows you are going through a hard time then no one can offer you advice or simply just be there to comfort you. We were not created to do everything on our own although that’s how we act a lot of times. If you continue to ignore how you’re feeling then you will never learn how to work through life’s tough situations and the cycle will just continue to repeat itself. Not to mention, masking your true emotions can create extreme feelings of loneliness and even cause you to isolate yourself further from your loved ones.
In today’s world, we are constantly comparing ourselves to a skewed image of reality. On social media, it’s easy to feel the need to pretend like you are fine when you’re not. Perfection is an illusion. If our timeline showed an honest depiction of our lives you would probably see more people crying in their car or binge-watching sad rom coms than taking cute selfies with their dog.
Vulnerability is scary... sometimes it’s downright terrifying! We must remember it is not selfish or weak to be honest about our feelings. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. You are allowing yourself to recognize where you are at, process it, and learn how to move forward rather than being preoccupied with what someone else might think.
I was sent a quote last week that I think answers the question of is it ok to not be ok even better than I can. “Give yourself permission to be where you are and still be loved for it.” - unknown
It’s ok to not be ok… it’s just not ok to stay there. It probably won’t happen magically over night (man, I wish it did), but you will be ok. First, you have to stop acting like you have it all together, and give yourself the freedom to feel what you are going through. Trust someone to help you work through it or maybe just be a shoulder to cry on. You don’t have to shout your hardships from the mountain tops or post it all over on social media, but take a step towards letting down that wall that keeps you from being completely genuine with yourself and others.
So how am I doing?
To be honest, right now I’m hurting, but I’m also learning to heal. I’m anxious and scared, but at the same time realizing I don’t always have to have it all together to be loved. I have found that to be a really freeing feeling when I do embrace it. I desperately wish I could magically make myself feel better and fix it all, but some things take time. I know I’ll be ok, that day just isn’t today. And you know what? That’s ok.
So it’s your turn.
How are you doing?
Join the conversation: What's one way you try to hide your struggles?