“And even if somebody else has it much worse, that doesn’t really change the fact that you have what you have. Good and bad.” – Steven Chbosky, author of The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
I’ve often wondered whether some of my experiences mirrored those of others. That sudden moment when you’re standing in a crowd of people and feel disconnected or overwhelmed to the point where your thoughts start boiling over into questions of why and how you came to be there at that precise moment in time – a query pertaining more to the bigger scope of the nature of life than the physical milieu.
This kind of experience does not have to signify some existential crisis on the precipice of becoming something more alarming. It could be the result of philosophical curiosity presenting itself in the form of wanting to understand and make peace with one’s circumstances by paradoxically, rationalizing the tangible world via abstract thought.
We tend to not get too caught up in these strings of thought as our lives become more entangled with everyday quarrels and it is often debated whether the young generations of the 21st century are being brought up in more over-stimulating, stress-induced environments than before. Having personally dealt with the superficiality of societal judgment and expectations of success, I doubt that I could come to a completely neutral opinion on whether the previous statement is true.
As a grieving, growing adolescent, I had become susceptible to certain pressures. One can easily get caught up in a cyclical fight between trying to be an excellent pupil while trying to maintain a stellar physique and good social relations. The process can become sickening and if left unnurtured at the root, like a wound, can worsen and infect all the areas of your life. The good news, however, being that recognising this cyclical behavior could be the first step to trying to heal the wound.
This is something that, in theory, could be done by slowly changing one damaging element of one’s life at a time. In reality, it is much easier to approach these problems with the help of a physician and the willingness to break those negative and self-deprecating thought patterns that one can so easily slip into. Coming back to Steven Chbosky’s quote; we often try to justify our feelings or ‘negative attitudes’ by saying that someone else might have it worse. Albeit important to remind oneself of the things that one should feel grateful for, it should not be deemed normal to invalidate one’s feelings regularly for the sake of thinking that these are purely the result of a negative mindset. In my experience, these feelings, when recurring, could be energy-draining, saddening and could be indicative of other underlying mental problems.
My own experiences of dealing with loss and mental health depreciation have told me that when you are down and out, there’s nowhere to go but up if you are willing to put your ego aside and address the fact that we, as people and imperfect beings, can be temperamental, vulnerable and downright miserable sometimes. Though, if it were not for these moments, perhaps we would not appreciate those beautiful, serene times in life where happiness and warmth are plentiful.