The Bright Side Has A Dark Edge

and you don't always have to be all bright and shiny.

Dear Beloved,

How are you doing? How is the first week of August going for you? Personally, I’m just settling into it, and trying to gear up my routines especially after the long Sallah weekend. There is a probability we’ll be resuming soon, and I’m really looking forward to September because of that.

Premium Shalaye

Remember the positive psychology course I told you I was taking earlier? Yeah well, I didn’t finish it. I might not go back it, majorly because I feel I have learnt enough about what I wanted to + I’ll be doing a 6-week course on it in school. Anyways, because of what I learnt, I am now seeing how obsessive we are about constantly sending out positive vibes only. Especially by productivity geeks and motivational people.

I had a discussion with a friend and her opinion was that being all bright and shiny and positive vibes only is tiring. Which I agree with. There’s a thin line between genuine optimism and toxic positivity, and it is important to strike a balance around that. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating for being all dark and twisty. I strongly believe in the indubitable power of positivity - consciously and intentionally channelling positivity, sharing it and avoiding negativity as much as I can. But there is something to be said about look on the bright side! positive vibes only!

Toxic positivity is the idea that we should focus only on positive emotions and the positive aspects of life. It dictates that if we ignore difficult emotions and the parts of our life that aren't working as well, we'll be happier. However, this approach can actually be detrimental to mental health.

The truth is doing this life thing sucks sometimes, and human beings are inherently flawed. We get angry, sad, jealous, resentful, disappointed, and these are all valid human emotions. Just as much as being happy, excited, delighted are valid. Having to deny these negative emotions is to deny the validity of your experiences as a human.

It's rapidly becoming a pop-culture thing, especially with the current COVID-19 lockdown. Social media is teeming with numerous ‘tips’ of how you can write a book, learn a new language, do tons of Yoga, attain zen state, and that we are somehow failing if we are not doing these things. We are constantly being encouraged that Shakespeare wrote King Lear and Sir Isaac Newton developed his theory of gravity in quarantine.

See ehn, it's amazing if people are finding inner peace and endless silver linings buried deep within lockdown. On some level, I believe I am. But the constant promotion of this narrative, no matter how well-intended they are, can become toxic. It can make anyone who doesn't have the same reality feel flawed and inadequate. The peddling of the ‘shiny pollyanna’ invalidates the heartbreaks and anxiety present in the world right now and I believe psychiatrists will say avoidance and denial is never the best way to process emotions.

Everything worthwhile in life is won through surmounting the associated negative experience. Any attempt to escape the negative, to avoid it or quash it or silence it, only backfires. The avoidance of suffering is a form of suffering. The avoidance of struggle is a struggle. The denial of failure is a failure. Hiding what is shameful is itself a form of shame. - Mark Manson The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life.

Now this does not mean you need to wallow in your negative emotions. You need to acknowledge and accept them so they can surface and pass. You need to feel your feelings but not let them become you. For instance, instead of saying ‘I'm sad’, you can acknowledge it by saying ‘I'm feeling sad’. You don't have to get stuck in your feelings. You are not them. You are not your feelings.

Toxic positivity not only affects your mental state but it may also strain your relationships. By constantly telling people ‘oh, it could have been worse’, ‘look on the bright side’, ‘others have it bad’, you risk invalidating the real pain/hurt your friends are feeling and signalling to your friends that you have this monochromatic perspective and that they can only be a particular kind of person - the cheery Pollyanna - around you. You need to be able to allow people live their truths without judgement or pressuring expectations.

We only get one chance at this beautiful beautiful life, and it is important to embrace it authentically in order to blossom in aliveness and robust psychological wellness.

So, REAL vibes only, beloved.

The Gist.

Guyy!!! I enjoyed Eid so much. The company majorly. Although, I was used like a house-girl early during the day😩. Together with my sisters, I had to help out in the cutting of ram - which turned out to be anatomy lessons with my Dad, frying the meat and the cooking gangan. But afterwards, it was all food and dances and pictures. I literally had to take a sleeping pill the next day to rest my body.

How did it go over there? You're yet to send me Eid pictures fam, do better🥴

On writing, I have a new article on mental illness in Nigeria out. You can read it here. I’m particularly proud of it, and I'll love for you to read it. It's on a UK platform so you can call me an international writer now😂

Also, I started a long-term project with a friend this August. It'll take a while if we pull it off. It's something we're doing scared and I hope it turns out well. You'll be the first to know if it sees the light of the day.

On reading, pure cruise mate. Pure cruise. I've just been reading articles and poems and CNFs. I shared some on my Twitter. I started She Called Me Woman, as well as Enter Naija: A Book of Places. I don't know how those will pan out, but we shall see sha.

Are you reading anything interesting this week? An article or story or anything? Please send me if you can.

Also, don't forget to remove this mail from Promotions to Primary so you don't miss any of my shalaye.

Till next time, Beloved❤️

Maryam🥰