I’ve tried to think of something light and fun to write, but I can’t do it. I’m upset for a lot of reasons, but today, over my soup, I realized that we’ve given positivity a terrible reputation.
To see the good in situations, to greet each day expecting the best is for suckers. It’s weakness, it’s sentimentality, it’s dumb. It’s uncool to be happy or joyful or excited or hopeful.
But, no one ever tells you how hard you have to fight to be positive.
It’s so easy to be negative. It’s terribly simple to walk into a room and instantly see the bad. Criticism is our universal second language. In school we can’t just read books or look at art or watch films or listen to music and let it all breathe. As soon as we’re done with it, or even when we’re still in the middle, we’re supposed to tear it apart. Find the meaning, find the flaws, discover what’s wrong with it or solve the puzzle…even if there is no solution to be found. Yes, there is marvel and wonder and knowledge in dissecting something beautiful, but there is also a harsh glare on the microscope that we place on things.
And, as if it’s not enough, we put our everyday lives under that same microscope that makes it so easy to be negative.
It’s so easy to put things down, including our choices and circumstances.
I’ve seen the quote, or some version like it, a million times-
"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. "
Typically we put 18 Instagram filters on this quote, attribute it to Plato and Buddha and Big Bird, and apply it to people who are stoic and reserved and obviously “going through a rough time”. But what about people who are smiling? We never give them the same treatment- simply believing that if you’re happy, your life must be easy.
If you’re truly happy and seeking joy, you must not have any problems.
Oh how wrong and hurtful that mindset is.
I’m not asking anyone to take pity on me and I don’t want to do gruesome details, but I feel like I’m in such an easy place to schedule a breakdown in my life right now. On paper, it would be so easy for me to “justify” being bitter and mad at my circumstances. I could “get away with” being upset and mean to people, and just blame it on my health. Or my work schedule and ridiculous hours. Or my homesickness for a place that doesn’t exist anymore. Or that today, of all days, is somber and hard to get through. Or the fact that a long distance relationship with different timezones wreaks havoc on the heart. I could parade these things around and throw myself a decent pity party. I mean seriously- I’ve got the supplies. I can wear a black sweatshirt and a scowl, sit in my room and listen to longingly sad playlists, make fun of everyone else’s success, and remove myself from any human interaction except to lash out occasionally at someone who did nothing to deserve it.
But…that’s too easy.
I can’t guarantee everything will be brightly colored ice cream cones. I can’t laugh at every situation just yet, but I can fight tooth and nail to be positive. Being happy isn’t easy for everyone, no matter how much it feels that way in the moment. Expecting the best is a choice, and it’s a decision to wake up every single day and speak gently, hope patiently, and love with reckless abandon. To treat everything with goodness is frankly, hard, when your emotions don’t match up with it, but oh how much good it does for the soul in return.
I long to be positive. I yearn to be positive. I use big sweeping words like these because I don’t know any other way to put it. Call me crazy or a dreamer, unrealistic, a hippie, naiive or restless, but I want to see the good, even if it takes more work.
I want to breathe in deep and exhale slowly and count my blessings.
I want to give a startlingly hopeful answer when someone asks how my day is going.
I want to hold on to my heart.
I want to change positivity’s reputation.