It's Not Okay

I am tired of self-help memes on social media. I do not need validation. I do not need strangers to tell me “You are loved,” or “You are beautiful,” or ”You’ve got this.”

I can’t stand it when people trivialize and dismiss genuine pain by saying, “It’ll be okay.” How do they know? How could they possibly know? Why doesn’t it occur to them that what they are really doing is using a shallow platitude to shield themselves from the reality of another person’s pain?

The world is a hurty place, it really is! But it’s a happy, agreeable place too.

The truth is that the world is an incredible, astounding, absurd, wonderful place filled with beauty, horror, love, joy, hatred, violence, healing, triumph, grief, and the ego-shattering realization that it’s not just about you.

It’s perfectly fine for us to adjust our feelings, and to do our best not to descend into self-pity or negativity, but shouldn’t it be obvious that it’s not a good idea for anyone to maintain an internal monologue about how important it is to be ‘special’ and ‘beautiful’ and ‘okay’? So, why isn’t it obvious, then?

Could it be because being completely wound up in self-regard makes it impossible for us to connect with other people? Could it be that self-involvement makes us unable to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes? Could it be that our belief that how we think of ourselves is more important than the way we treat other people is turning us into shallow, irresponsible, self-indulgent whiners?

Could it be that it’s up to each of us to listen to our own conscience— to decide what is right and wrong, and then act accordingly?

Could it be that we are individually responsible for developing a moral compass— for choosing our own values and principles, and then living by them?

Could it be that there is a cognitive dissonance in, on the one hand, denying that what other people think of us should dictate how we think of ourselves, and then, on the other hand, relying on what other people tell us to make us feel better about ourselves? I think there probably is.

It’s a good thing to encourage one another. It really is. What is not a good thing is to pretend that courage is not required; that accountability is irrelevant; that the consequences of what we do are unimportant when compared to our own good opinion of ourselves. We need each other, and that is more true now than ever before. The world is collapsing under the weight of fear, hatred, greed, aggression, and the pursuit of power. We need not just to be encouraged, but to encourage. We need to face up to the fact that our need for reassurance can’t be met if the reassuring words are lies.

Here’s the truth: It’s not OK! Reality doesn’t care about our feelings!

Things often get worse, not better. People are not always beautiful. Nothing is ever enough. Sometimes we do get more than we can handle. Discontent is the order of the day.

I believe the answer lies not in self-denial, but in self-forgetfulness.

Love does have the power to hold off despair, but only if it looks outward, not inward.


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