In society, we tend to stay away from “dark” emotions like melancholy, sadness, depression. We value emotions like happiness and cheerfulness more. And while I understand and agree that we should value these emotions, I argue that “dark” emotions are what makes life so valuable. We are always wanting to celebrate and fully experience our happy emotions, yet we shy away and tend to hide, or even deny our “dark” emotions. We wish to hide way from our darkness. Is not the light in me just as much me as the darkness in me? why hide from yourself? If the light in me is internal so must the darkness be. It is about time we face and acknowledge our complete self. How can we recognize what happiness is without experiencing the sadness in our lives? It is at this point of sadness, of melancholy, of depression that we truly realize how strong we are. Martin Luther King Jr. once said “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moment of comfort and convenience, but where he stand at times of challenge and controversy”. These “dark” emotions are sort of the measuring stick of our strength. These emotions give us the opportunity to recognize and meet our true self. Whenever I am overwhelmed by melancholy, significant questions come to mind; why do I feel this way? what is this trying to teach me? how can I utilize this energy? how can I grow from this? I refuse to hide from myself, even if it is the darkness in me. In a way, happiness is the reward we receive when we are courageous enough to face our darkness; happiness and acceptance, acceptance of self. We must muster up the valor to acknowledge and recognize the self completely. the dark and the light side. It is a good thing to experience one’s self. We must understand that sadness and suffering are core parts of the universal experience.A good life is not immune to sadness. A good life is where suffering contributes to our development.To understand our sadness, is to realize that you are not the only one experiencing this melancholy, you have not been single-handedly picked out to experience this pain, that every human experience these feelings, it is a human experience. This understanding of self only leads to empathy; empathy for your fellow humans, empathy for the world you live in. Sadness, when understood properly, will make you kinder, forgiving, and patient.
I am not quite sure how to begin my thoughts on this subject. In the 21st century, the curriculum we have chosen to judge our fellow human beings scare me deeply. It seems to me that humans are now valued by not only how much values you have, but also by how valuable your values are. Now, my definition of values in this context does not have to do with principles, ethics, or morals – it simply has to do with material gain. We are only valued by our values – meaning, in society, I am only valued by what type of car I drive, or what type of watch I wear, or what luxurious materials I have gained.
Unfortunately, humans will buy these ultimately meaningless materials, internally screaming for the love and attention of other humans. We are not valued and loved for simply being human.
“The things you own, end up owning you” – Tyler Durden
This leads me onward to the topic of success and failure. The overall general idea of success is money. Since we have learned to judge people by the materials they have accumulated, this idea of success seems like the ultimate goal for any human. We are certain that if we reach this level of success, society will value us and finally recognize our full humanity. On the other hand, failure is a frightening ordeal. If we are to fail, meaning no material gains, no rags to riches, no money in your account – society will judge you accordingly. You become devalued, less than, almost dehumanized. This is quite a dangerous way of thinking. Whether humans are succeeding or failing, we are to be valued simply because we are human. I imagine one of the most difficult things to be, is human. When life throws its curveballs, and unpredictable circumstances, it is the human body and the human psyche that stand against these ordeals – I believe humans deserve praise simply for this act. I consider everyone that is still living and breathing to be strong – because to live in this world, whether you are failing or succeeding, takes strength.
Loneliness is my best friend. I recall seeing an anti-depressant commercial where a woman’s depression was depicted as her shadow, which followed her every where she went, it clung to her no matter what, and was always looking over her shoulder. I was amazed when I first saw this commercial because it vividly illustrated how I felt about my loneliness. I have been lonely all my life. I can not remember a phase in my life where loneliness was not a companion. I was lonely in 8th grade, few years later in college, my relationship with loneliness is ever so strong. My social anxiety has always paralyzed me from advancing in my social life. I remember back in junior high when I would hear people complain about someone texting them back too slow, or not texting them back at all – I would curse them, because I couldn’t even think of anyone to text. Don’t get me wrong, there are sometimes when I am at campus, laughing and joking with friends, colleagues, & scholars. Times when I feel loved. Times when I feel “normal”. But soon as they leave, my loneliness is exposed, and my invisible friend makes its presence known. Loneliness is like a black hole that is consistently sucking away your life’s energy. Ultimately, at the end of my day, when I have no one to talk to, loneliness is there. I belief I certainly lack the words to effectively describe the pain loneliness brings. Some internal wounds are more excruciating than physical wounds. Loneliness is not always about obtaining friends, sometimes you just seek understanding. I suppose there are some benefits that come with loneliness. You tend to be more comfortable with yourself. You have time to meditate on who you truly are, and to plan on who you wish to become. But loneliness might be too heavy a price. I imagine one of the most scariest things to a human is being alone with our thoughts. This is why whenever we do find ourselves alone, we have the habit of grabbing our phones, searching through it aimlessly, just to keep our minds busy. No matter what facades we put up, or what substances we use to mask ourselves – the truth is, we all seek companionship. I was once told that nothing limits human potential like rejection. Everyone wishes to be accepted as they truly are. There is a saying that goes “Friendship is essential to the soul”. I believe love is an essential nutrient for the soul. My relationship with loneliness has been interesting, but I am ready to separate from my parasitic friend.
Some ways I’ve been told to deal with loneliness is by talking to more people, putting myself in environments with like-minded individuals, joining a club/organizations , going out more e.t.c. I have also been trying to burst out of my comfort zone, and put myself in not so familiar situations. I just began implementing these solutions so the results are steadily coming, but they are coming nonetheless. I urge anyone who battles loneliness on a daily basis to not succumb to drugs or other substances – using it to mask your loneliness. I urge you to face your loneliness. James Baldwin once declared “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”. If you wish to really remove loneliness from your life, take action. I have decided to face my loneliness so I can change it.