Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Why Are We Afraid of Admitting That We're Not Okay?

If I had a quarter for every time I lied, claiming that I was "good" or "okay" when I really wasn't, I would actually be able to afford the clothes that I want. There are millions of times when I go throughout my day, and someone will ask me something mundane, like "How are you?" and my go-to answer is a lie. It's always just habit to jump to an easy answer, like "I'm good" or "I'm doing okay". It's the easy, stress-free answer on both sides of the conversation. I don't have to worry about my own issues in life and admit that I'm a mess inside, while you don't have to worry about pretending to care. However, there are moments, beyond the niceties, where maybe someone who is genuinely concerned about my well-being will ask me if I'm okay. Even though there are times when I wish someone would ask me that, I always lie and say that I'm okay when I'm not. So why is this? Why do I sit here, wishing that someone would care about my feelings, while in the moments that someone does, I push them away? Why can't I just admit that I'm not okay?


I think that the thing about feelings is that they're scary. They leave you feeling vulnerable, uneasy, anxious. Feelings are so incredibly powerful. They can overwhelm your mood, your thoughts, your lifestyle, and more. And in these moments where these feelings might be negative, but still powerful and overwhelming, it sometimes becomes too much. It feels like a loss of control, like your emotions are taking over. And that's scary. Yes, there are extremes, such as in the case of an anxiety attack, where you completely lose control, but to some extent, we feel little shocks of this loss of control over our emotions every day. Overwhelming stress, anger, sadness, fear. In these cases, for me, personally, it feels so scary to admit these feelings. To admit that maybe something isn't quite right. 

I don't know if it just feels like admitting them will make them real, but I hate feelings. I was talking about this recently with a friend and we were discussing how both of us very much avoid expressing our feelings and emotions. Granted, that doesn't make these emotions any less powerful internally, but both of us aren't good at admitting when things aren't okay. When things aren't okay, instead of maybe talking to a friend or something along those lines, I smile and I pretend that everything is perfect. It's something that I always do, I can't help it. I think that for the most part, this comes down to the kind of person that I am. I like to keep my problems and my insecurities private. I know that some people like talking to others about the problems in their lives, that they need someone to talk to, but for me, it's the opposite. I'm never one to admit that things are not okay. I internalize everything and then turn around and complain about how no one gets it. And it's wrong of me to do that. I know that. But even though I know that I have this habit of refusing to admit that I'm not okay, I still can't kick it. 
The thing is, we live in a world where everything seems to be perfect on the outside. You turn around and see your neighbor, your classmate, your co-worker, and it just seems like they have their life together. Maybe you envy their clothes, their job, their lifestyle, their car, their confidence. And when we admit that maybe something isn't quite right in our lives, it feels like that aura of perfection that we constantly strive for but will never reach is beginning to fade. It makes us envy all those things more. As we look at the lives of others, it makes us feel like if we admit that we're not okay, we put ourselves down, being less put together than anyone else. And although I think that it's sad and it's so wrong that we feel like this, fearing to admit our insecurities because it goes against conformity, I am guilty of this as well.




I think that when we admit that maybe things aren't quite perfect, it leaves us feeling somewhat vulnerable. It's like in battle, when a soldier has a wound. They can mask it and hide their pain, but if the enemy discovers the wound, they can use it to their advantage, and hurt them even more. When we reveal the things that are wrong in our lives, it's kind of like that wound. That feeling of vulnerability that comes with admitting it gives off an irrational fear that someone will use it against us. That, of course, is a dramatized and exaggerated example, however, the idea still stands. One of my biggest fears regarding opening up about everything wrong in my life is that people will see me differently. I already feel very insecure about myself, my confidence, my talents, all of those things. Having other people know about those insecurities, makes me fear that people won't be able to view me as highly anymore. 

Furthermore, going off of the idea of vulnerability, being able to admit that you're not okay requires a sense of trust. And honestly, trust isn't easy to build, at least, that's how it is for me. There are some people in the world that are too trusting, but for me, I'm very cautious. I do not trust people easily and I don't open up easily. Being able to be vulnerable and admit that things might not be perfect or they might not be going as planned is scary and telling it to someone else means that you need a lot of trust and confidence in them. Like I mentioned with the soldier example, feelings can be taken advantage of. Trust is like taking a leap. It's taking a risk, but sometimes, giving that trust is worth it. Sometimes it's okay to be vulnerable, because talking to other people can make you feel better about everything that you're afraid of, insecure about, stressed about.  


And yes, there are dozens of factors that contribute to why we're afraid to admit that we're not okay, but I think that a majority of them are largely all in your own head. Most of them come down to over-analyzing things or fear. It becomes an internal battle, one where you're constantly putting your guard up, but in reality, the battle isn't between you and others, but it's between you and yourself. Like I said, there are some personality traits about myself that fight against me wanting to be honest about my emotions and feelings. I want to be able to be honest and real. I don't want to be constantly pretending that my life is perfect, because it isn't, and I am dealing with ups and downs and all the in-betweens every single day, but I can never bring myself to admit them. I always talk about changing that, but for some reason, I never can. And I just think that's crazy, because getting the conversation going about the honest part of our lives, the part that we don't really tell others about, is so important to actually connecting on a very personal level. 

And yes, it's not easy to kick these and to stand up and be honest about how you really feel. These factors are functional in some cases. They protect us from being emotionally vulnerable and/or taken advantage of. But to some extent, it's tiring to always have your guard up. I'm not saying that every time someone asks you how you're doing, you have to pour out all your emotions, I'm just saying that sometimes, between maybe friends, family, loved ones, it's okay to not be okay. It's okay to let your guard down and take on those feelings. I hate my feelings, but they're real. And why should we deny them when they're right in front of us?

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