I’m Supposed to Be Happy by Kelsey Hoeper

Maybe you’ve been out of college for a while. Let’s say you landed your first “big girl” job, a nice apartment that’s somewhat cheap, and you’ve arrived to this moment in your life when you can afford HBO and organic fruit. Or perhaps you’re a senior in high school—you have a solid GPA, you’ve been accepted into a college of your choice, you work part-time, and you also happen to be a contributing player on the varsity track and field team. You’re the first person in your family to go to college and everyone tells you how proud they are. In both scenarios, you’re extremely happy. How could you not be? But you’re not.

You can be grateful for all the things you have, but still feel that something is missing or gnawing away at you. You may feel nothing when you’re meant to feel great. From the outside, you appear to have everything. Or you’ve worked so incredibly hard to get to where you’re at that it would be a disservice to let anyone see the pain you’re in. Maybe you’ve compared yourself to someone who’s told you they would kill to be in your shoes. But you’re genuinely unhappy and you choose to suffer in silence with no one to see. Why? Because you’re supposed to be happy. At the height of my depression, I was told that it would pass like anything else. I was also told I didn’t have anything to be depressed about.

Whether anyone’s diminished your feelings—your very valid feelings—there is no shame in admitting there’s something stirring within you. Troubles and worries are felt deeply, and it doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from. We don’t, and shouldn’t, suffer alone or in isolation. Harboring feelings of guilt is not a plan for escape. You may fly under the radar for a little while, but there’s no hiding from yourself. Whatever you feel, it’s real and it’s worthy of your time.

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