No, YOU Look on the Bright Side!

Why is there a bright side to everything? What even is the bright side? And why is it anything something goes wrong, I have to go look at it?

As in. . .

"I lost my job."

"Look on the bright side, now you can find a job that truly fulfills you."

Or. . .

"My house burned down and I've lost everything."

"Look on the bright side, you get to go shopping for new furniture."

It's like we can't be sad in our lives, even for a little bit. There's always some Merry Sunshine gaslighting everyone else's experiences, because they're uncomfortable with anything that's not a thousand-watt smile.

This may sound weird, but I like to be a little sad once in a while. Not actually down in the dumps, but just a little bit maudlin.

You know, that feeling you get on a cool, gray autumn day when you return to a place you used to live years ago, and you feel a small pang of nostalgic longing for the days when you didn't know so much, and you wish you could go return a time when you were younger and could spend your days here without the weight of the world that you carry on your shoulders now.

But as soon as you express any kind of non-happiness, someone is always there to remind you that things aren't that bad.

Those are the people I find most annoying. The always-sunny people who tell you to count your blessings instead of cursing your burdens.

Like when you just want to grouse about having to mow the lawn when it's 90 degrees out; they tell you to be grateful for having a lawn to mow and the health to do it yourself.

Or when you complain that you're too tired to make dinner, and they tell you to be grateful that you're able to buy food and have a home to cook it in.

You know what, Karen? How about you keep your Pollyanna nonsense to yourself? I just wanted to vent for a minute, not get a mini-sermon about always looking on the bright side of life.

I want to rant at the inequities of life. I want to complain about my job. I want to grouse about my friends. I want to be annoyed with my family. I want to have a good long wallow in whatever "negative" emotion I'm feeling, because it's healthy to do that once in a while.

For example, I'm occasionally asked to give a talk at a conference, and invariably there's always one person in the audience who gives me a low rating, even when everyone else gives me high marks. And that one low rating will stick in my craw for a short while. I'll obsess over that one person, annoyed that they didn't appreciate all the time and effort I put into the talk.

Or I'll host a special event and almost everyone I invited will show up, but a few people won't. And I'll be irritated with the no-shows, even while I appreciate everyone else who made it.

There are some people who no doubt think I'm being a Negative Nellie for failing to appreciate the people who did give me a good rating or the people who did show up.

And I am. For 95 percent of the time, I'm over the moon at my good fortune.

But the remaining five percent of the time, I'm annoyed. I'm irritated. I want to shake those people who dinged me or ditched me. I want to gripe about the injustice of it all and rant and rave and vent my spleen.

Because in a little while, everything will be fine again, and I'll be ecstatic about what I did get. I'll be pleased that everyone else loved my talk or that everyone else came to my event.

I just don't want someone telling me to look on the bright side or say that I should be grateful that I got to give a talk or had friends to invite to the event.

There's nothing wrong with being angry or sad. That's normal. If anything, it's unhealthy to repress those emotions all in the name of appearing bright and sunny, like you're putting on a show for the crowd.

It's like those families who fight and argue the entire way to church, but once they get out of the car, they trowel on some fake smiles and pretend everything is fine and dandy. Those are the people who will tell you to push every negative thought out of their head, and count your blessings.

Except none of us have perfect lives, no matter how hard we try to pretend otherwise. Everyone gets angry, everyone gets sad. We're entitled to those feelings, and it's not up to anyone else to tell us how we should feel or what we should feel grateful for.

So when I'm feeling my special sadness, or I just want to vent about my feelings for a minute, just be quiet and leave me alone for a little while. Don't try to gaslight me and tell me I'm wrong for feeling this way.

Although I guess I should be grateful to have friends who care about me in the first place.

Photo credit: (Creative Commons 0)

My new humor novel, Mackinac Island Nation, is finished and available on Amazon. You can get the Kindle version here or the paperback version here.