Humans are born with the gift of emotions.
It’s a shame that when hard times strike, many of us feel conditioned to stifle our emotions and paste a layer of faux-happiness over our true pallet of ups and downs. I’ve been there—where my thoughts and emptiness felt more like a burden to others rather than something to embrace, and I felt more compelled to shove them as deep as possible rather than examine them up-close and really explore them.
The truth might be hard to bear sometimes. But it’s okay to not be okay, and to let sadness infiltrate and settle, at least for a little while.
Let Sadness Be
Originally posted in the November 2015 edition of the CU Denver Advocate.
The sun rose this morning, and I was right there with it—living and breathing. I’ve been blessed with another day of life, and I’m endlessly thankful for all of my amazing opportunities of both privilege and survival. I also awoke, however, with sadness. And that’s okay too.
Sadness can evoke pain, passion, and profound thought. Some of my best ideas and compositions and revelations have been conceived from moments of intense sorrow and reflection. I’m not alone either; many artists have found solace in times of darkness, to produce something wonderful.
The past year hasn’t been easy. My sadness this morning came after waking from a lovely dream: I had been laughing with my entire family at a Thanksgiving meal, and breaking bread over friendly teasing and storytelling. In my dream, my cousin Pam hugged my boyfriend, my grandpa Larry tossed me a beer from the fridge, and my grandpa-in-law Kenny told everyone about the time I did the splits on his living room floor.
When my eyes opened, the scene evaporated and I remembered the chilling truth. Pam passed away in May during her battle with Multiple Sclerosis, and she was never able to meet my boyfriend. My grandpa Larry left us a month before, and Kenny unexpectedly stopped breathing last Thanksgiving.
I’m no stranger to Catholic funerals, and I’ve become accustomed to being strong. This idea of holding my head up and not letting my heart hang heavily has stayed with me beyond grief and loss—it’s pumped into my entire identity. Keep going, keep grinding, and never show the hurt.
Our culture has done its best to banish sadness and elevate traits of joy and strength upon a pedestal. Happiness has become a medicated practice. You’re feeling bummed? Watch this video of pugs to distract you and it will cheer you up. How can you be downtrodden when you have a roof over your head and a person who loves you?
The truth is, we need sadness—it creates balance. Sometimes the best way to understand moments of happiness, in dreams or memories alike, is through a veil of tears.