I’m pretty sure everybody has looked back at what they wrote on Facebook and wanted to bury their head in sand. I can get on board with that.
I also get to enjoy ridiculous, angsty tweets that I’ve written in the throes of what seemed like life-ruining situations.
After one of these tweets, my friend simply tweeted back “stop.” I was so mad then. It’s hilarious now, but I sure wish I would have stopped.
This carried on well into my early 20s and even now, at 24, I sneak some Dashboard Confessional or The Story So Far lyrics in there on particularly trying days.
It’s definitely funny (now) and cringe-worthy, but this behavior was just one loose jolly rancher wrapper in a ball pit of emotional demons.
I’ve always felt the need to broadcast my emotions. If I’m feeling sad, everybody around me has to know it because if I act okay, well, I would be lying to the world, right?
Or, the pain was so encompassing that I just didn’t have the will to function like a normal human being. I would completely surrender to my emotions, like the Williamsport Wildcats during a homecoming game. Yes, I’ve tweeted this joke before, but I need to make sure it’s been told on all platforms.
I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety since I was a teenager, but I wasn’t the polite, “smile and tell you I’m doing fine” depressed person. I was the “LET ME CAST A VEIL OF DARKNESS AROUND YOU TO REVEAL MY DEEPEST ANGUISH” depressed person to every soul that came across my path.
(Use your imagination that this gif actually plays, because that’s me shoving my pain down everyone’s throat.)
I wore my heart on my sleeve and allowed everyone to have all the vulnerable pieces of me because I thought that’s what it meant to be genuine.
Most of the time during my periods of depression, something happened that would temporarily “cure” me and I could be my normal, goofy, sarcastic, but generally happy and caring self.
I carried on like this until I came to a fork in my road. This time, there wasn’t going to be a fast or easy solution to the things I had to go through.
For an undetermined, extended period of time, I was going to have to become friends with my depression and wade in a pool of my darkest thoughts and emotions until I was at peace.
My job could not be any more people-oriented. Every day, I interview people from all walks of life. I’ve seen the best and worst of humanity.
I’ve watched a 9-year-old girl and her prized cow take first at the county fair after spending the last two years recovering from a fire that burned 35 percent of her body. I will never forget her infectious smile and purple sparkly hearing aid.
I’ve also sat in the courtroom as a 36-year-old man pleaded guilty to raping and murdering his step-daughter. I will never forget his dead eyes and towering stature.
I had two options at work: 1. I could continue my morose pattern and withdraw from my interviewees, coworkers and friends or 2. I could try to find the best, bravest version of Sarah that could still extend happiness and love to everyone I met, no matter how crappy I felt.
I figured that Option one never made things any better, so maybe I’ll give Option two a whirl.
Of course it felt a bit unnatural at first, but over time, I realized that my feigned happiness actually reaped some benefits of the real thing.
Even though I often had to push myself and act, people responded with an outpouring of smiles, generosity and human connection.
The most important part of all of this was the realization that I didn’t owe anyone any explanations and I didn’t have to reveal all the cards in my hand.
Bad things are going to happen to you, but they are yours and yours alone. You don’t have to put them on display for the world, but you also don’t have to hide them away in the shadows.
You get to call the shots and decide what the world gets to see. Isn’t that empowering?
Don’t give everyone the privilege of knowing you.–Anonymous