Why It Is Important to Talk When You Aren’t Okay

As human beings, we are not always okay.

We are not consistently positive, every single moment of every day. We are not always right. We are not always kind. We have moments where we feel broken and discouraged and hopeless and cruel.

And I’m going to tell you a secret: you don’t always have to be okay.

This should not be a secret. Because I think we have all generally accepted this idea that people are not perfect. We say, “to err is human”, and we expect that everyone will, at some point in their lives, make a mistake, or get hurt, or be down and depressed and lost. And yet, despite all this, we still make an attempt to hide it. We still think that we will be judged for being flawed – or, alternatively, we are judged for being flawed.

It has been a long time since I tried to hide the fact that I wasn’t okay. I’ve worn my status of ‘not okay’ quite proudly for a while now – speaking up about my experience with depression and anxiety, my struggle with toxic people in my life, as well as the simple daily struggles that I think all of us go through. My experience is not a particularly unique one – I think that many of us deal with these issues, if not all of us, at one point or another. And yet, despite this, I have been described by people – both personally and online – as “really messed up” or “seriously ill”, not because of the things that I have gone through, but because I chose to speak up about them. I never tried to hide the fact that I wasn’t okay at certain times in my life, and for some people, this was unacceptable – a sign of weakness.

What these people didn’t see was just how therapeutic this was for me. Speaking up allowed me the chance to see that I wasn’t alone. That other people experienced the same thoughts and feelings and issues that I was experiencing. Some of these people went public, like I did – expressing these issues loud and proud for all to see, while others simply whispered it to me behind closed doors. And either way, I am grateful for them – because they helped me. They relieved my guilt, my fear, my need to repress. They freed me. Because all of a sudden, I wasn’t only speaking for me – I was speaking for us.

And, on the other hand, I have known many people who tried to fit into a certain image of flawless. I think many of us know these people as well – the hyper-yogis and gurus who never have a negative thing to say. Their social media platforms are full of inspiration and positive thinking and little more. And while inspiration is great – necessary, even, there is such a thing as going too far in this direction.

Because when these flawless people do, inevitably, show a flaw, they cannot accept this. They cannot hear it. They must blame everyone else for their flaw, or deny that it is a flaw, or push it deep down, never to see the light of day, never to be worked on and fixed and improved upon.

And often times, these flawless people are so insecure, so afraid, so depressed, and never allowed to acknowledge the source of this, because they do not allow themselves to talk about it. They are too afraid that they will be judged, or looked down upon. They are so frequently told that they will not be strong, or admirable, or acceptable, if they are suffering. And we are all suffering, at one time or another.

Ultimately, you do more harm to yourself and to those around you when you do not allow yourself to discuss the fact that you might not always be okay.

End of day, life is not about being perfect. Life is about growth. And you achieve this growth by confronting your pain, rather than pushing it down and ignoring it. Now, the way that you confront this pain can take many forms – whether you speak out about it openly, or with a trusted friend, or a therapist, or your personal diary, whatever the case may be. But regardless of the way that you choose to speak, there is nothing wrong with it. There should be no shame in the methods that you choose to better yourself, and there should be no cause for judgement either.

So if anyone makes you feel ‘lesser than’ because you choose to speak out about your problems, please keep in mind that that reveals more about them than it does about you. You are not ‘messed up’ or wrong – you are dealing with the natural problems that many of us deal with, and you are dealing with it in the way that works for you. Meanwhile, they will not allow themselves the same luxury. They are still caught up in this myth of perfection, or flawlessness, that none of us are truly capable of.

And if you are someone who will not allow yourself to speak out, then allow me to say this: I understand that it can be frightening. It might seem weird, and you might think that you will be judged, and maybe you will, but more than that, you will be received with love. You will find kindred spirits, so much more personal to you than they would otherwise be, because they understand what you have been through. They understand the workings of your mind.

And you can start slow, if you want to. Start by simply saying it to yourself. You can move on to speaking out when you feel more comfortable. But end of day, you need to speak out. You need to do it for yourself, and for the kindred spirits who feel silenced, alone, and frightened.

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You Are Beautiful in Your Flaws

Dear girls who do not perfectly fit into society’s definition of beauty; girls who have belly rolls and thick thighs and jiggly chins; girls with stretch marks and cellulite; girls who don’t like their hair or their skin or the amount of hair they have on their skin:

You. Are. Beautiful.

You are. You might not think you are, but that’s only because we as a society have a very confusing idea of what beauty is.

According to society, beauty is very limiting. It is one thing, it is a certain face, a certain body, a certain hairstyle. It is black or white, you are either beautiful or you aren’t, end of story. Except, by the very nature of being limiting, it sort of winds up excluding everybody. To be beautiful, you must have Marilyn Monroe’s face, Pamela Anderson’s breasts, Jennifer Lopez’s abs, Nicki Minaj’s butt, and Miranda Kerr’s legs. This is not one woman, this is a Frankenstein amalgamation created through plastic surgery and photoshop (either that, or by winning the genetic lottery). And while there’s nothing wrong with matching society’s definition of beauty, it is important that we recognize that society’s definition of beauty is really difficult, if not impossible, to match up to.

And you are a real woman. Regardless of who you are or how you look, you are a flesh and blood human being, and that means that you’re going to have some flaws, but that doesn’t mean that you are not beautiful, and that doesn’t mean that you don’t deserve love.

I have seen so many articles and online posts praising a man (usually) because he dared to love a woman who wasn’t traditionally pretty, saying things like “what a great guy, he loved her despite the fact that she’s fat” or “how sweet, he still loves her even though she has wrinkles”. But to this, I say two things:

  1. Yes, of course he loves her: long before he met her and decided that she was “good enough” for him, she was already a beautiful human being who deserves to be loved, as we all do.
  2. Why does her physical appearance dictate whether or not her husband/lover/partner deserves praise for “putting up with her”?

It should not be surprising to us when a man declares his love for someone who doesn’t perfectly match the description of beauty that society puts out for us. We should not be awed and inspired by his bravery. Because regardless of the way that that woman looks, she should deserve love. If she is kind, caring, and intelligent, then does the relationship really merit congratulations on his part because he managed to look passed the fact that she also has a little extra body fat or cellulite? Because the way I see it, love is about so much more than physical bodies. It is about trust, happiness, and support; her dress size doesn’t have anything to do with it. It is not an obstacle in their relationship, and she is not “lucky” to have found a guy who is capable of seeing her value passed her body fat.

And she is not beautiful only because he has decided that she is. Her beauty was there long before he declared it; all you had to do was open your eyes to it.

Because beauty isn’t about a dress size or smooth skin or body proportions. It isn’t about looking better than someone else, or about being a “real woman” as opposed to a fake one. It isn’t about a single, limited definition, and it most certainly is not something that someone else gets to decide for you if you have it or you don’t. Beauty is subjective, and while society most certainly influences the way that we see beauty, you also have the power to change what you think is beautiful. You can broaden your definition of beauty to include your flaws. You can decide that it doesn’t matter what society says, all that matters is what you say.

And if someone else doesn’t see how beautiful you are, then let them get a good look of your great ass as you walk away.

Be Perfectly Imperfect

There’s a lot of pressure in our society nowadays to be absolutely, completely flawless.

You see it in the discussion of physical appearance most predominately. It’s pretty much common knowledge nowadays that the women who appear on the covers of our magazines, our models and our celebrities, even our athletes, are photoshopped to the point that they no longer really look like themselves. With the use of a computer program, we slim and tuck and pull and peel, until women are made thinner than is physically possible, taller and paler and longer-legged than they actually are. And that’s only what photoshop is capable of – let alone hours of make-up and lighting and a knowledge of what camera angles are the most flattering.

In our movies, too, people are represented as looking almost unrealistically beautiful – most predominately in our movies targeting teenagers, it seems. We fill fictional high schools with clear skin and buff bods, with girls who know exactly what to do with make-up and boys who have clearly dedicated countless hours in the gym despite having school work and friends and family and other teenage-related problems to deal with. We take arguably the group of people in our society who are most image-conscious, who are most concerned with looking flawless and attractive, and we ask them, point-blank, “why don’t you look like this?”

And the funny thing about this is, we make our models and actresses and singers look so perfect that, to some extent, we almost make them look boring. They all fall into a fairly standard, fairly limited definition of what beautiful is. All thin and symmetrical and clear-skinned and predominately white. And don’t get me wrong, if you fall into that definition, I’m not trying to say anything against you – you are beautiful, and you deserve to feel beautiful. But when that’s all that we ever see in our society, day in and day out, it tends to get a little bit old.

Where are the beautiful people with pimples?

The boys and girls with body fat?

The towering, Amazonian women, and the men who are totally socially acceptable in all their shortness?

Where are the stretch marks, the belly rolls, the moles and freckles and scars? I don’t see them – not even on the secondary characters, or the characters who actually need them. Remember the 2013 adaption of Carrie? The one that cast Chloe Grace Moretz in a role that is often represented as being outside of the traditional definition of beauty, and yet nobody, not the director or make-up artists or costume designers, made any attempt to make her any less than physically flawless.

The only time that we ever see anyone being represented as less than flawless in our society is if someone is making a statement on it. Acne exists only in advertising for products to remove it. Body fat is present when a character is meant to be unattractive, or otherwise unappealing. And men can only be short and skinny if they themselves are somehow stunted in their masculinity.

This isn’t the only way that our society emphasizes perfection, however. People are often expected to present themselves as emotionally flawless, as well.

People can’t be weak. They can’t look at their problems and be struck by fear at the thought of them, because that’s cowardice or stupidity or some other similar lie. People need to put up a sort of front, appear like they can do anything and everything without once being bothered by it. And the strange thing about that is that it isn’t true. Most people, especially when they’re just starting out in life or in an adventure, are terrified. They just learn to work through the fear. The fear is not the problem – our refusal to accept that that fear is present is the problem. We don’t talk about it, because we don’t want to admit that we have it. We don’t want to appear less than perfect.

We refuse to wear certain clothes or do certain activities because we’re afraid that we’ll look ‘silly’ or ‘stupid’. We refuse to practice certain talents because we afraid that we ‘aren’t very good at it’. But the only way to get good at something is to practice it often, to work through that initial stage of imperfection, and at the end of the day, what does it matter if you look silly? Embrace it! Be flawed! And, who knows, maybe by allowing yourself to be more open and less afraid, you’ll learn something new about yourself. You’ll grow as a person when you are no longer so concerned about fitting into the narrow definition of ‘perfection’.

Perfection is boring. Perfection is a narrow definition of what you should be, set forth by someone who isn’t you, who has never met you, and who doesn’t understand the brilliant and wonderful person that they are stifling in the process. So what does it matter if you look silly, or if you don’t see aspects of yourself represented in the media? Be you, assert your flaws, and force the world around you to accept you for all that you are.