Something I think about a lot – and blog about a lot – is positivity. We praise positivity and as a result, we sort of shame negativity, however valid it may be. People are encouraged to be positive because it inspires other people. It inspires people to push past adversity and to be the best, most successful version of themselves. Except, it doesn’t allow other personality traits to flourish, such as empathy and kindness.
I see a lot of people aged 40+ sharing “inspirational” images on Facebook. They usually harp back to the good old days where people were pleased with their lot – not that I see any of them giving away their flat screen TV and opting instead to just play card games. Today I saw one that spoke about being happy to eat what was put on the table and how anorexia wasn’t a problem back then. Seriously. Just, the thing is, YES IT WAS. Ignorance may have been bliss, but people were most definitely suffering from eating disorders 40 years ago. The increased discussion of mental illness and eating disorders is bloody brilliant. Anorexia is a real health problem and it is absolutely NOT an indication that someone is ungrateful or weak. It is not just a condition of modern society, it’s only spoken about now because the stigma of mental health is finally lifting thanks to my open minded and accepting generation. The attitude that eating disorders may be something that “the kids of today” should be ashamed of is archaic and honestly, pretty disgusting.
I also read another chronic illness blog recently that irked me. The author spoke about how it was up to them to deal with their illness. It was their responsibility to look after themselves because no one else will. Your illness, your responsibility. While, in essence, I didn’t disagree with the idea of this blog, I think that the writer has perhaps forgotten how it feels when you haven’t been able to accept your condition – the feeling that everything is slipping through your fingers. There isn’t a damn time limit on finding peace with your chronic illness. If you never “take responsibility” for your illness, then you aren’t doing it wrong. Getting depressed is not a “woe is me act”. I’m really happy that another chronically ill person is getting out there and grabbing life by the balls… But, as soon as you use the whole “remember, there is someone else worse off than you” line, I just think… go fuck yourself. It’s great that you are pretending to be blindly happy with your lot in order to write a sassy blog, but it’s a crock of shit and I’m not buying it. You, too, will fall. You’ll slam back down to earth one day and I just hope, with all of my hypermobile fingers crossed, that someone taps you on the shoulder and cheekily reminds you that there is someone out there in more pain/poorer/more depressed than you. There is nothing that grinds my gears more than a faux-deliriously happy person trying to explain to other people that because they don’t want to ride the rainbows and sparkles bullshit train that they are at fault. You might be crapping candy floss right now, but you have just alienated so much of your support network that you WILL need later… Good job! *slow clap*
Everyone is just fine the way they are, but the world needs the cynics and sceptics who can empathise with people and their problems, just as much as it needs the people who have the ability to lock out sadness and to see only the brighter side of life.
I think it lies with a need to be popular. I honestly do not give a flying fuck if people don’t like me. I work on the basis that if more than 50% of people you meet become friends, then it’s because you lack opinions and base your entire existence on being liked, which is RIDICULOUS. I’d rather go to bed knowing that my 50% like me for who I am. They like that I’m a cynical realist who says it like it is, but would also do anything for any of my friends, even strangers. They aren’t just people I have met who are indifferent to my existence and friend me on facebook.
When we encourage the idea that only positivity is good, we forget that there is a lot more to life than just being the best, succeeding, being happy and SMASHING IT. Get real.