Trip to the Eiffel Tower. Snap. Hugging gorillas in Rwanda. Snap. Flowers from boyfriend on Valentines Day. Snap. Partying and going out with friends. Snap. New outfit. Snap. Trip to the coast for the weekend. Snap. Cutesy picture of me and boyfriend all loved up #loveliveshere. Snap.
Bouts of depression. Silence. Day after day of not feeling like getting out of bed. Silence. Bad break up. Silence. Moments of checking his phone to see if he is still in love with his ex. Silence. Fired from job. Silence. Maxed out credit card. Silence. Overlooked for promotion. Silence. Fight with boyfriend. Silence.
Welcome to 2016, where we live in a world filtered through the lens of social media. Where every photo is staged and every 15 seconds of video is choreographed. Where moments of happiness, wealth, health, abundance and beauty are embraced and moments of vulnerability, shame, insecurity and self doubt are shunned. We live in a world that demands our perfection, even if this perfection requires good lighting and a valencia filter.
R&B singer Kehlani was recently dragged through social media for allegedly cheating on her boyfriend and when she attempted suicide, you needed a microscope to find the messages of support and sympathy buried underneath all the attacks. It does not matter whether or not she did or did not attempt to commit suicide -- as that seemed to be the main point of contention. It matters how we as a society responded to her cry for help. Because that's what it was. It was unattractive, raw, ugly, and too dark for us to accept. So we lashed out because she clearly had not received the memo that she needed to filter her pain for our consumption.
Today's world has very little tolerance of people working through their pain and expressing it. We are required to check in that perfection and hashtag it to death. Our lives on social media are merely a manifestation of how we live in general. When we lose our jobs, we are told to keep our chin up and stay positive because something will come up in no time. When we end our relationship, we are told to get over it and strut our stuff because there are plenty more fish in the sea. When we are going through depression, we are told to snap out of it and look at all the things we should be grateful for. When we are angry, we are told to keep calm and carry on.
But sometimes I struggle to get out of bed. Sometimes I curl up in my bed and cry because I am in pain over a break up. Sometimes it's that time of the month and all I want to do is stay at home, wear baggy clothes, eat chocolate and deal with my face breaking out another day. Sometimes I doubt whether I am good enough for the job I applied for or for the promotion I am going for. Sometimes I am too broke to go on holiday or for drinks or to buy a new outfit.
The world tells me it's wrong to feel anything other than happiness and gratefulness. The positivity coaches and the spiritual teachers tell me that I need to always be positive so I can attract more positivity to me. They tell me I should not dare to allow a negative thought into my world. It's true that being in a constant low vibration attracts even more negative experiences into your world. But what is missing from this conversation is that to truly love ourselves, we need to love each and every part of ourselves. Not just the beautiful, flat-tummied, smart, healthy-bank-account selves but also the insecure, jealous, fearful aspects of ourselves. We need to love our dark sides as much as we love our light. There is a very big difference between being authentically positive and forcing positivity in order to avoid negativity.
Look at nature; it does not struggle with what we would perceive as 'bad', but it embraces it. The trees embrace winter as a necessary part of the journey to spring. The sky embraces darkness because it knows this is the only time the moon and the stars can shine brightly onto the earth. The night is necessary for all life to rest and rejuvenate before the morning breaks. But humans reject their dark sides. We do not need to do this. I am not advocating dwelling on it. I am merely saying that we should embrace it, acknowledge it, let ourselves feel it, understand it and then release it with love.
If I feel insecure in a relationship, maybe it's because it is triggering my fears of abandonment. I have feelings of abandonment because my father died when I was three years old and my mother found it too hard to look after me and gave me up. When something happens to us, we need to acknowledge it, try and understand why it has been triggered, and then shine light and love onto it and release. When we ignore our pain, fears, shame, insecurities, we simply deposit this from our conscious into our subconscious to be triggered at a later stage when it's really inconvenient.
So my message is that it's okay to feel everything -- positive and negative. It's also okay to accept and express the negative. When we accept it, we start the healing process and when we express it we give permission for others to do the same.
As they say, you are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in a progress at the same time.