Allow Yourself To Be Unhappy

(Written mid-June and briefly published, then reverted to draft when life put things into perspective and showed me that my slightly disappointing uni grade really doesn't matter as much as I thought it did. Now published again, because I wrote it and I stand by it so I may as well.)

A lot of people see themselves as optimists. This is a Very Good Thing, as I for one certainly think it is a much better way to go through life than always expecting the worst. (Of course, feel free to disagree; there are valid arguments for both sides.) Whether this is inherent optimism or more of a 'fake it till you make it' approach, it seems to have many benefits and is generally a positive path to take.

What I don't think is quite so Very Good, is when said 'positive' people feel the need to be relentlessly positive all the time. As a positive person myself, I have found that people seem oddly surprised when you are slightly less bright. That's not to say you suddenly become completely negative and broadcast doom and gloom everywhere you go, but if you are a touch sad or unhappy it seems to be difficult for people to comprehend. I don't know exactly why.

Everyone, no matter their outlook, will have some days when they feel better than other days. The chirpiest, bounciest, most sunshiney person will still be unhappy now and then - having a sunny take on life does not exempt you from misfortune, disappointment, or just a plain old rubbish day.

This perception from other people seems, then, to reflect back onto the slightly blue optimist, which is the problem. The surprise or bewilderment itself is not necessarily a bad thing - if anything, it proves that people expect and are used to an abundance of joy and silver linings from you. The issue arises when people start to expect that from themselves, and deny any sentiment of less-than-sparkly.

This is exactly why it's important to allow feelings of unhappiness. No matter how small, if something doesn't go to plan, or you feel disappointed in yourself (separate post on holding yourself to skyscraper expectations coming at some point), or you're just a little less than usual, then take some time to recognise that, accept it, and let it go. Your mood won't instantly lift and you won't find yourself dancing on air, but it's miles better than bottling everything up for the sake of "You're always so happy!"

You can still be optimistic and chipper about other things, whilst being disappointed/frustrated/blooming well annoyed that you are no longer as good at things you used to excel in. (Can you tell I am bummed out about a uni grade? Well. I am. And by recognising that in writing here, I'm keeping it from being bottled up without having to go through the rigmarole of actually voicing it, which is often a damn sight harder.) Chances are, there are bigger fish to fry.

"Don't let anyone dull your sparkle", as they say (they being kiddlywinks who somehow have Instagram and like to put quotations like this in their bios (alongside loads of emojis and all their friends' names (I find it hugely amusing))).


  1. Well said. There is also a corollary here; whilst the relentlessly upbeat can be, and frequently are, surprisingly annoying, so too are the relentlessly doom-laden. You know the type, only happy when they are unhappy or have some perceived injustice to moan about. They sap ones will to live and their utter joyless existence is enough to give you a bad day. As an example, I was walking along the beach in St Andrews years ago on a glorious crisp, sunny autumn day. The type of life-affirming day to make your spirits soar. Commenting on the beauty of the day to a passing walker the reply came back "Aye, but it'll rain tomorrow." Was my first thought to chase them into the sea or bury them in the sand misplaced? I think not.

    1. Glad you liked the post! And I totally agree, it can be hard sometimes to let these things pass you by without reminding people that it takes nothing from them to be uplifting and share in other people's joy and positivity. The world needs more of it, and certainly more people who appreciate the beauty of simple pleasures!


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