I have this friend named Meredith. We were once co-workers who are now great friends. She lives two streets over from me in a gorgeous co-op building, and is one of my favorite people in the world. This is greatly due to the fact that she knows everything about everything, and I always leave our conversations a little more enlightened than I was before. Hence, I look forward to our weekly or bi-weekly chats over overpriced smoothies or coffee in our hipster Brooklyn neighborhood. (Seriously though, why are we paying that much for blended vegetables and fruit topped with bee pollen?) A few weeks ago we were sitting in our favorite cafe, which is often heavily populated by families whose children have too much authority. This cafe alone has made me reconsider motherhood. Those children are little terrorists as far as I’m concerned. At any rate, we still managed to get our catch up session in over the screams of a child who clearly did not want a gluten free cookie.
“I just don’t subscribe to the toxicity of positivity that we live in these days,” she said.
“Elaborate,” I said inquisitively.
“This constant need everyone has to be so positive about everything all the time is just toxic. Bad feelings serve a purpose too.”
This got me to thinking that there are a lot of things that happen to us in this life that we discount as being very bad, but they are actually the unsung heroes of our lives. It just takes a while for their merit to show. Too often we discount the small steps, the marginal increases that lead us to our higher selves. I wonder what would happen if we started to pay more attention to the things we are told to ignore.
Short Term Relationships
According to society, there is no greater honor that can be bestowed upon a woman than that of being a wife and mother. These are the only two occasions when women are allowed to be emotional and/or irrational. The world stops for a woman on her wedding day, and no matter how horrible she is while planning this elaborate day, everyone excuses her shitty behavior. Anything that I accomplish will pale in comparison to the day when a man validates me by making me his wife. This is what society has told us for centuries. For this reason, we discount short term relationships. Any relationship that doesn’t result in marriage is to be tucked away into the annals of our memory, and disregarded. This is really weird, because ideally every relationship you enter will fail until one doesn’t. Everyone you ever date will end up being an ex until you meet the one, so why do we hold those in such poor regard? We discount the lessons learned from those relationships. We fail to acknowledge that from those people we gained a greater knowledge of ourselves, and what we actually want in a partner. We don’t even call relationships, relationships if there isn’t a title. According to mental health therapist Joe-El Carabello, any relationship that meant something to you is a relationship. We can’t call things “situationships” as a means to distance ourselves from the experience. All relationships matter in the grand scheme of your life. From each one (hopefully) you came out a little better, a little stronger, with a better sense of self.
There is nothing more annoying than being in a shitty mood, and having someone tell you to be positive. It feels like we are constantly being told, “Shove down your bad feelings, and replace them with good happy thoughts, and then all will be right with the world.” But pain has a place too. Physical pain is a signal that something is wrong or something is happening in your body that needs to be fixed. It’s the same thing with emotional pain. If you feel like shit, instead of trying to force it away, why not listen to it and see what it is trying to tell you about yourself? I sometimes feel envious of other writers and bloggers, because they seem to be doing so much better than I am. I’ve been taught my entire life that it is wrong to envy other people, and comparing yourself to others is one of the worst things you can do to yourself. However, I don’t lie to myself about feeling that way. I know that when that feeling creeps in, it means there is probably something more I could be doing to further my career. I feel jealous of those people, because I have slacked off on my own to do list. I wouldn’t know that if I had attempted to replace those feelings with false ones. By no means do I think we should sit in our bad thoughts and emotions, but I don’t think it’s wise to immediately shoo them away.
Dude. I am so thankful for the relationships I was in (long and short) that didn’t last. My God, I could be with a struggling local rapper right now if it weren’t for rejection. I could be married, living in a college town still trying live out my dreams of working in fashion by working as the manager of a Khol’s. If not for rejection, I could be working really hard under a shitty manager for substantially less money, and way worse benefits. If not for rejection, I would be pretending I don’t want to be in a relationship just to have someone in my life. Rejection hurts. It is an emotional kick to the balls that leaves your ego in a state of disarray, but I have yet to be rejected from anything I was actually meant to have.
So few people will show the actual process of achieving success. We won’t hear about how a person struggled to get where they wanted to be in life until many, many years later when they’ve gotten there. So from the outside it seems like success came all of a sudden in a big whopping sweep, but we know better. We know that more often than not the road to greatness is achieved by a collection of small steps that lead to the goal. If we know that, then why don’t we acknowledge our small steps more often? We have to give ourselves credit for taking the small steps, making the incremental changes, and going through the process.