"Be around people who feel like sunshine" I read recently while scrolling on social media, on a day where I most definitely did not feel like sunshine. A storming wave of guilt washed over me, because I was not beaming rays of bright warmth on my friends, nor my spouse or my children, nor my family. On that particular day, my thoughts, stresses, and emotions took over, and I needed to grasp onto someone else's strong, relentless ray of sunshine to pull me out of the pits of my despair. I needed to be around people who feel like sunshine on a day where I was a hurricane.
But I turned inward, and instead of opening up, talking it out, calling up someone who always gives good advice, I kept allowing "be around people who feel like sunshine" to repeat in my head as punishment. I felt ashamed of my own nagging negativity.
A popular feel-good graphic that pops up on Pinterest and Instagram frequently, intended to make the reader examine their circle and keep positivity at the top of priority lists suddenly made me wonder if everyone around me had read the same thing, maybe even shared it, questioned the value of our friendship and thought "Alyssa certainly is not sunshine".
"Good vibes only" I saw. "No bad days".
They just kept coming; all well-intended, positive, loving phrases that I just had to be taking the wrong way. Finally, I logged out. I got off my phone. I asked for space. I took a shower. I read a book that made me feel good. I wrote a list, and organized my tasks and stresses. I sat alone and meditated. I wrote. I called my mom because she's forced to love me despite me, and together we processed through the things that were harming my peace.
I moved on, and throughout the next few days, adopted my own temporary attitude of "be around people who are sunshine", "good vibes only", "no bad days", shunning everything that didn't make me feel like Strawberry Shortcake. Because there was nothing bothering me and all of life was good. I was waggin' more and barkin' less, you know.
And then, my car died. No bad days. And then, I got really overwhelmed. Be sunshine. And then, and then and then. Good vibes only. I tried to keep these little mantras in my head. And more than all of it, what nearly broke me was being a false positive.
Should I explain? False positive, as in, the second worst thing that could happen with a pregnancy test. False positive, as in, opting out of processing the very real, tangible, honest to God bad shit that just simply happens, even to good people, and pretending that EVERYTHING IS GREAT, 100% of the time.
I've picked up a bit of confidential information from a few books and a wise mom, and that is - brace yourself:
1. Emotionally healthy people deal with emotions.
Emotionally healthy people acknowledge and observe the way they feel, and process it by way of communication, grief, or rest, in order to move on. Emotionally healthy individuals understand that not every day, not every friend, not every feeling is sunshine. That's just simply impossible.
2. The only way over it is through it.
You can't just walk past the bagged up problem every day and pretend it isn't going to rot. You can't avoid feeling alone inside by surrounding yourself with people. You can't treat a wound by neglecting it. You can't claim to be free when you're dragging very visible chains around.
I know this might sound like a terribly pessimistic view of the world and humanity. I know this might feel like a GMO-packed, big pharma conspiracy pill to swallow for all the bohemian hippies I know. But please hear me out.
Because I am you. And you are not sunshine. You are a whole planet. You are four seasons of bloom and flurry. You are wild hurricanes and raging lava flows. Powerful tides and delicate flowers. Some days, yes, you are sunshine. And I hope on days like that, you are a saving grace for those freezing around you. But mostly, you are everything. And you are allowed to be all of that. You are allowed to drown your world in sadness and wake up the next day, delivering rainbows and feeding the wildlife.
Be a positive person. Be optimistic. Make your peace a priority and protect your harmony. Choose self-improvement over self-pity. Seek the best in everything and everyone, and look for lessons in all that is verified terrible. Please, do that. I wouldn't dream of trying to deter you from it. But in the process of finding those lessons, feel it for real. Be guided by your intuition and your deep-seated urge to grow. Be guided by that optimism inside of you, trusting that things WILL get better, and that doesn't mean it has to be right now. Remind yourself that you are warranted some bad days, and justified in a couple of bad vibes, and that you don't even have to be a little bit sorry for that.
And when scouting for new squad members or clique candidates or whatever your good-vibey Pinterest board calls it, please prioritize people who are loyal, people who are grounded, people who love deeply, people who can take it all with a grain of salt and a little humor, people who have seen real poverty, people who understand true sadness. Prioritize them over anyone who apparently has no bad days. Prioritize them over all the good vibes at Coachella.
Because they are the only ones who will be there for you on days when you are not vibrating at your highest frequency. Who will root for you even when you're on the bench. They are the ones who won't care if your house is messy or you're stressed out or near a breakdown. They are the ones who will give you thought-out advice and make you laugh. They will remind you of your greatest riches, and they'll share all of your happiness.
A piece of advice from one unfair weather friend to another:
Be around people who feel like sunshine. But bring your damn umbrella, just in case.
(Photography by Evelyn Sharratt-Ash, Peppermint Skies Photography)
Facebook: Peppermint Skies Photography