My whole life, my crayons have always been in rainbow order. Every year when I got my class schedule, I would be the first one at Staples buying exorbitant amounts of color-coded supplies. Safe to say, I'm a bit of a perfectionist.
Because of this, I've always struggled to accept failure. As soon as something didn't seem to go my way, or align itself in perfect color order, I'd compensate with something similar, yet equally stress-inducing. Didn't win class president? Join a new club. Quit basketball? Get a job. Struggling with a heavy course load? Take even more classes.
As soon as I let myself be upset when things didn't work out in my favor, I saw my unhappiness as a sign of weakness. Rather than learn from my own downfalls, I would feel guilty for even considering being unhappy. Failure wasn't an option, so instead I would search for my next success, without allowing myself to dwell on defeat. Just like that, I got stuck in a vicious cycle - never allowing myself to be upset, but rather allowing it to slowly accumulate, each grain of disappointment slowly trickling to the bottom of the hourglass until time began to fill it to the brim. I was always okay, and then just suddenly I wasn't.
About halfway through my senior year of high school, I started to shut people out. My amazing group of friends suddenly became a hindrance in my mind, whilst in actuality they were the opposite. Rather than turning to them for help, I stayed silent, instead turning to the fictional friends who provided refuge within my favorite books. I was embarrassed to admit my own weakness, so I didn't.
Criticism, too, began to affect me far more than it ever had before. Malicious remarks that I had once scoffed at as mere jealousy or lack of a better hobby became the basis of my own self-worth. In one particular instance, an issue of the school newspaper I had invested hours into faced immense criticism, to which I responded by shutting off my phone and shutting out those around me, avoiding the situation altogether.
By avoiding all of the stressors in my life, I was instead magnifying their impact. Left unresolved, they became a massive weight upon my shoulders, rivaling Atlas' own crushing burden.
Thus, came many sad days. Days where I didn't want to leave my room. Days I left texts unanswered. Days my mom remarked about how oddly long it had been since she had seen my friends. After four years of high school, and many years before that, I just finally needed time to myself to wallow.
By finally feeling the sadness which I had kept contained for so long, I was finally releasing the negative emotions into the world, freeing up space within myself for the positives.
I'm not going to sit here and pretend I'm always happy now. I'm not. However, I can say with confidence, it's okay to be unhappy. It's okay to show weakness. It's okay to be human!
I'm not always okay, but that's okay.