On average, someone asks me if I’m ok, four times a day. I kept track for a month.
It’s well meant, but it pushes some serious buttons.
I say yes, because I’m supposed to, & because, you know, it’s true. As true as anything else. Yes, I’m ok: I haven’t just received some sad news; I have the same number of fingers I had when I woke up this morning.
I just don’t smile & make small talk all the time. I’m not hype in the morning. I work with teenagers all day, so I value quiet. Deeply. Sometimes, I don’t have the energy to engage in small talk. & sometimes, I feel things other than happy. It doesn’t mean I’m not happy. I mean, didn’t you guys see Inside Out?
People’s reactions to perceived unhappiness, especially in women & young people, are interesting. Those reactions are often very intense. Strangers & acquaintances alike feel compelled to chastise me for not being grateful for my life, or to remind me that my situation could be worse, or that I’m beautiful & should therefore go through life gifting the world with my permanently bared teeth.
It’s worse online, where Instagram & Facebook often feel overrun by positivity pushers who replace fitspo with memes that demand I never feel bad or self-conscious or anything less than 100% pure gratitude for every single experience of my day. Everything is a gift, the positivity pressure tells me, so say thank you.