We live in a culture filled with positive affirmations and can-do sentiments. (One could even argue these pep talks fall somewhere within that spectrum, but don’t hold that against me.) Social media is a perpetual collage of encouragement to keep your head up, to keep going, or (for the times when you do fall down) reams of evidence about the value of picking yourself back up.
But sometimes you just have to hold on. Sometimes you’re just floundering in that current, doing everything you can not to drown. And that’s okay. You can’t paddle upstream every single day: you’d die of exhaustion.
I’m all for being positive. But, sometimes, not everything can be solved by putting on a smile and thinking about sunshine. Sure – that will probably help you get through the moment better – put it might not solve anything; sometimes situations just suck. And all we can do is hold on and get through them.
There’s no shame in feeling overwhelmed. In feeling down. Don’t beat yourself up for not being able to put on a happy face 24/7. Don’t feel like a failure because you can’t skip down the sunny side of the street every single day. I’m not saying give up and be negative – I covered that choice in last week’s pep talk – because I strongly believe focusing on the positive does help. What I am saying is that sometimes life throws hard moments at you, and there’s nothing you can do to get out of them. Sometimes getting through those moments takes every ounce of strength you have – so you don’t have any left to get back up. In those situations, all you can do is sit and wait it out. (Until, eventually, you will have the capacity to get back up.)
What I’m hoping to remind you is that, in times like those, it’s not a case of winning or achieving or finding the ultimate best of everything – it’s about gathering all the strength and strategies you’ve got (and if that is Pollyanna-ing the cr*p out of every moment, totally go for it) and just waiting for the storm to pass.
It’s not about sitting in a hole feeling like it’s going to last forever. It’s about knowing this is one moment, and recognising it’s difficult, and being kind to yourself while you do everything you can to weather it. Remember you can survive, and there will be a light at the end. You will make it out the other side.
Just hold on. And don’t feel bad if that’s all in that moment you can do.
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