Kahlil Gibran quoteIn love. With friends. With family. Right now there are so many situations where I'm either trying to find the courage to be raw and vulnerable, or looking back and wishing I had been more open and less afraid. Why is it so hard to stand up and say, "I'm struggling. I have struggled. This scares me. I'm afraid you'll hurt me. I'm afraid I'm not good enough. I don't think I can do this."?
I saw people in ASB (my high school's student council) as always being put together, yet nobody dusted me with some magical glitter and gave me the power to juggle school, fitness, friends, family, and hobbies when I joined my sophomore year. If somebody sees a crown and sash on a girl, it is automatically assumed she must be beautiful, yet even after I won the honor of being the Queen of my hometown, there were times I did not think I was beautiful. Or times when I looked in the mirror, saw that I was, and yet that still didn't fix whatever I was currently struggling with in my personal life.
In the various closing ceremonies of my year in ASB and my year as Miss [Hometown], it was interesting for me to note all that wasn't said. Sure being stressed was mentioned, but was anybody really honest about the number of tears they cried because of this project or that chastising of a stressed out co-chair? For example, I absolutely loved rehearsals for my outgoing Pageant, but there were times I cried in the car to and from rehearsal because I had no idea how I was going to get everything for the Pageant done and study for AP tests. There are a lot of social dynamics in ASB nobody ever seems to talk about; we all love each other, but there is a lot of gossiping that goes on. I can't say how many times I've wanted to turn around and ask, "So, what do you guys say about me behind my back?" As a leadership team you have to be honest about each others' strengths and weaknesses, but where is the line between being negative out of necessity and being vicious? I love my fellow teammates, but how was I supposed to connect with them when I didn't feel like I was on safe ground with a lot of them? Or that our priorities were entirely different outside of the class?
Often times the things in my life that people seem to look at and say, "Oh wow, that's so great! You're so lucky!" come with their own set of challenges, and the fact that everyone else thinks its so easy makes it even harder. I am so grateful for all of those things in my life, it is great and I am lucky, but I guess the point I'm trying to make is that everyone struggles and things are often not as one-sided as humans seem to automatically make them. Human beings are human beings, regardless of whether they're running for president or running away from being a pauper.
Now, do not think I'm trying to throw a pity party here. I'm not! Most people who know me say I'm a pretty happy person, and I am. I make a point of being so. I like being happy! When people say, "Oh Grace, you're such an optimistic person!" I say, "Thanks! I am because I have to be, believe me." I am not one of those people that is just naturally happy all the time, biologically I'm actually prone to depression.
But you know what my secret to being happy is? I allow myself to not be. That's my second point. I do everything I know how to be happy--thinking positively, being kind to others, exercising, taking care of my body and surroundings, doing my prayer and scripture study and actively working to make Christ a part of my life, gratitude--but when those things aren't working, I thoroughly believe in "scheduling depressions". Runs to ticked-off music, days where I just lay in bed and catch up on TV shows, once in a while too much chocolate and popcorn, watching a movie with the express purpose that it will open the floodgates and let me cry, journal entries where I throw out all rationalizations of why I shouldn't be upset with this person or sad about that event, and just let myself feel the negative stuff. And as I've learned to, in feeling the negative things, hand them over to Christ, it works even better. He understands I am human and can only bear so much, He has always known that. Sometimes He helps heal my heart in the moment, but sometimes He just comes and bears my burdens with me, and that is enough.
Through my hard times my ability to be grateful for the good times grows. My ability to empathize with and feel compassion towards others deepens. My faith in Christ is strengthened. Heavenly Father proves to me that I am stronger than I ever imagined.
Isn't that something to be happy about? I don't always feel so in the moment, but I trust that it is enough to be able to put the guilt that I'm not currently happy aside and let myself feel.