IT’S OK TO NOT BE OK (HONESTLY)

IF I asked you today, “how are you feeling?” what would you say?

What would your reply be? Would you say “fine thanks” and give me a full beam of a smile?

Or say “I’m great? Never been better!”

Perhaps you would mean it. Perhaps you’re jumping around with utter joy today. I hope that is the case. Hell, I’d love to think this is the case, for all of you that may be reading this.

But what if you’re not doing so well?

Would you admit it? Would you open up? Would you say, “actually Kate, I’m feeling really low and I’m so unhappy”?

Would you?

It’s hard to open up to people isn’t it? To admit our vulnerabilities. To confess our feelings. To put ourselves out there in such an authentic way.

So much easier to plaster on a fake smile, hide our tears and carry on ‘as normal’. So much easier to disguise the weight on our shoulders. So much easier.

Or is it?

Have you ever noticed that when you go out for a few boozy drinks with friends, that by the end of the night, all sorts of revelations come out, fuelled by some Dutch courage.

You might well say it’s the booze talking.

And it is of course, that’s true. But it’s also our hearts, don’t you think? Our poor suffering souls screaming out. Desperate to share, desperate to reach out, desperate to find a shoulder to lean on.

People are desperate to share. Longing to tell their truth. Really they are. And I don’t know about you, but I’m beginning to notice it more and more.

It’s just that most of us don’t know how to do it. Or we don’t do it very well. We’re too scared of what people might think. Or we lack the courage to try.

And so we wait.

Wait until we’ve drank numerous glasses of lip-loosening plonk or until we just can’t take it anymore or until someone gently encourages us to speak up.

And in the meantime, we hop on Facebook and read the happy highlights from the people we knew at school and we go on Instagram and see all the beautiful people living their beautiful lives.

And we add our two penny worth too.

We tell people we’ve had the best day ever! Even though we’re terrified that our life is falling apart.

We snap the prettiest image we can and contribute to a beautiful feed, even when we’re feeling far from pretty inside.

And on it goes.

Pretending our lives are perfect. Pretending we’ve never been happier. Pretending we’re just tickety boo.

And so the days roll by and we bump into people we meet and we tell them we’re great and nod along smiling when they tell us they are too.

And we plaster on the make up every morning as well as the fake smiles and make sure that it looks like we’re having a blast.

And we keep our pain and our secrets and our fears and our dark, dark thoughts hidden away deep down inside.

And so does your best friend. And so does your sister. And so does your husband.

Until it all comes spilling out.

Until you or someone you love, falls apart.

Until eventually the pretender gives up the exhausting day job and all is revealed.

PoutingFINAL 30

We are living in a world obsessed with perfectionism and image, but isn’t it time we stopped the role playing and tell ourselves and each other, that actually it’s OK to not be OK.

That it’s OK to have a sh***y day.  To feel angry. Or bewildered.

(And completely normal in fact.)

That it’s OK to stop pretending you’re no longer OK.

To your partner. Your Mum. Or a colleague.

(They can handle it.)

That it’s OK to have messed up, to cry or lose your temper.

(And human.)

That it’s OK to not think something is OK.

To disagree with something. To dislike someone. To have an opinion.

(You’re allowed.)

That it’s OK to tell someone that actually, you’re not OK.

To open up. To reveal the truth. To admit your life isn’t so rosy.

(We’ve ALL been there.)

It takes courage to acknowledge you’re not OK, when the rest of the world wants or expects you to be, doesn’t it?

We worry about what people will think, we feel we have to deal with things on our own, we believe it would make those we love sad or we fear that it makes us abnormal somehow.

We’re encouraged to share so much these day.s But only the best bits! We’re invited to be ourselves. But only if our face fits!

We’re expected to put ourselves out there. But only in a positive light! Is it any wonder that so many of us are suffering, quietly and alone?

When life is great, we all have a habit to shout it from the rooftops.

We want the world and his wife to know we’re succeeding, having a baby, moving countries, living the dream. We’re proud to share our triumphs and our happiness. And we enjoy wallowing in the attention and love, for as long as we can.

But you know when darkness falls and when things start to go skew wiff, it’s OK to not be OK.

And it’s more than OK – bloody brilliant in fact – to just admit it!

It’s honest. It’s real. And in a world that craves the ‘perfect’ it’s a refreshinginly imperfect change.

Admitting we are not OK paves the way to deeper emotional connections with each other, makes us feel less alone and opens up the door to a hell of a lot of healing and feeling.

So I’ll get the ball rolling…

Yesterday I was not OK. Today I am a little better. Tomorrow, I am hopeful that I will be just tickety boo.

But if I’m not, I’m not going to hide it.

And if you’re not, neither – my friend – should you.

 

With love,

Kate

Lips

 

 

Photography: Images taken by Masque Photography.

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55 Discussions on
“IT’S OK TO NOT BE OK (HONESTLY)”
  • Oh sweetheart. I totally get this. Only yesterday I was asked how I am and without thinking I said “I’m ok” my husband laughed behind me. Saying how are you ok ? You have a dreadful cold and are in agony with your lupus.
    On top of that inside I am far from ok. You are right we are not supposed to talk. But we should.
    This is a brilliant post highlighting such a truth. I hope this morning you are a little better. If not come see me on Twitter and I will try to make you smile but if not it’s ok I will just be there and listen xx

    • Thank you so much Kara. How absolutely lovely are you?! We do all need to talk more and I guess, I probably should have added in here, that we also need to listen more too. To ourselves and to each other. I’m feeling much happier today and I hope you are too. x

  • Absolutely, lovely Katie. Earlier this year I wrote a post with a similar theme, except I was saying it didn’t feel ok to not feel ok, because the reason I didn’t feel ok – Hugo’s death – is just too awful. Then, I was still so full of anger, but I am coming to accept that it is ok to not be ok. We needn’t put a smile on when we don’t feel it, and we needn’t say we’re fine when we are anything but. If we continue to pretend we are at risk of it all coming crumbling down. We also need to always be mindful of others too, and not take at face value when they say they are ok when other signs might suggest otherwise xxx

    • Perfect comment Leigh and I can completely understand your take on the ‘OK’ thing too. Goodness me, with what you’ve been through, you’re absolutely right, in that instance it shouldn’t feel OK to not be OK. But it’s against that pressure of feeling you have to put a brave face on, isn’t it? Like who do we it for? If we do it for ourselves, than I guess it’s not a bad thing. But if we’re doing it to make others feel more comfortable, then really why on earth are we doing that? I’ve always been attracted to those who are ‘human’ and who don’t hide behind fake-ness. And you’re absolutely right, we need to be much more mindful of each other too. xxx

  • So sorry you’re feeling blue. Please keep being open and talking about it though, it’s the only way to relieve the burden. Hope you feel better soon, but if not, that’s ok too. Much love x

  • Thank you for a well-written, thoughtful and timely post. It’s obvious with the Paris attacks that all is not well with the world, so how can we, as individuals, be forever on an even keel?

    2015 has been a very challenging year for me: personally, career-wise, and health-wise. There’s little wonder that I sit here, frazzled, because I’ve had so much to cope with. I don’t mind admitting that I find some things harder to cope with than others.

    That doesn’t make me weaker than those around me, just different. I’m sure there are many things I can do that others can’t, and vice versa, because no two people are the same. If the wider world sees me as a lesser person, so be it – that says more about them than it does me. Personally, I think it’s worse to portray continual, unadulterated happiness, because it’s unrealistic and innacurate to what goes on behind people’s closed doors – it also suggests to me a shallowness from a lack of feeling, not something to be admired.

    I feel, I hurt. I’m human.

    • My pleasure Diane. Thank YOU for a well-written, thoughtful and timely comment! :) I’m sorry to hear 2015 has been a challenging year (is there something in the air?!) BUT… I do believe that sometimes, we have to hit rock bottom so we can bounce back up and hit those highs. Here’s to a happier 2016 for you – I personally cannot wait to work with you and make some happy magic happen :) x

  • Amen for this post.
    On the surface (to other people) I am the ‘I don’t know how she does it’ lady. The funny one, the entertaining one, the one who knows everything and everyone.

    You said it was OK to cry – so I just did.

    In reality (what I am worrying about) I have three jobs, an overworked husband, a sick dog, elderly parents, my own health worries, a daughter doing GCSE’s and son who is struggling at school to name but a few.
    It’s all getting on top of me but I’m a coper so – you guessed it I just cope. When people ask how I am I say ‘not too bad’ as I can’t bring myself to lie and say ‘I’m fine’ when I’m not really.

    Great post and so very poignant for me right now. xx

    • Oh Sally. I’m so glad it resonated but I’m sorry you’re having to ‘cope’. Life is so tough at times and often we have to tough it out, but don’t forget to allow yourself some time for you to be upset too. With everything you have going on right now, you are more than allowed. Much love. xxx

  • Beautifully written and sums up my entire being at the moment.

    I’ve taken the leap recently though and outed myself as being unhappy sometimes, even though from the outside it may look like I have a rosy life.

    Beautiful baby, adoring husband, new home, all of these things are incredible. But, sometimes, just sometimes, I’m dreadfully unhappy. The anxiety being a new mum, worrying about worrying! Anything. It can all get a little too much.

    And you’re right, sometimes it is ok to just not be ok.

    Now I’ve come to terms with that, I don’t beat myself up as much. I’m kinder to myself. Everyone should be a little kinder to themselves. X

    • So glad to hear you’re being kinder to yourself Kirsty – I honestly believe from that, good, happier things come. And I love that you’re able to ‘out yourself’ as being unhappy even though as you say you have so much to be grateful for. Motherhood in particular, as wonderful as it is, most definitely can take us to dark places sometimes. And I don’t think there is a Mum alive who would disagree. Wonderful comment, thank you x

  • Spot on lovely. It’s ok to admit that life sucks sometimes (I actually find humour in this, which can help, and my sister and I love to chat about how so many part of this year just ‘suuuucked dude’). It’s ok to be real, and you’re right it helps us connect with one another on a more level playing field. Aspirational images and stylised, filtered lives are nice to look at but the ones that make me stick around are the ones that pull on my heart… and that includes people sharing their pain as well as their joy. Great post and hope tomorrow shines brighter for you and if not, as you say, that’s ok too. Better days always come xoxo

    • Thanks so much Uju. You’re right of course. There’s always sunshine after rain, even after the darkest storms. Love how you find humour in life sucking too! More of this please! :) x

  • Wonderful piece. Has it ever been thus? Have people always hidden their true feelings or is it worse in the social media age? I actually think social media and modern society has led to us all discussing our feelings a lot more. Certainly more than in my parents younger days. There’s the flipside too of course as you say; everyone trying to keep up the perfect life.
    The great thing is blogging allows people like you to write honest posts and other people can read them and breathe a sigh of relief.
    X

    • Ah thanks so much Adrian. That’s a really interesting point you make. You’re right of course. Social media – as with everything I guess -definitely has two sides and used in the right way, can be incredibly humbling and refreshing.

      And yes, thank goodness for blogging ey?! Now THAT has definitely paved the way for honesty and communication :)

  • There are some Lovely points here Kate to get People thinking.
    Why do people hold back giving answers to their True feelings?
    Its because most people are proven to be poor listeners and so we save
    ourselves the Indignation of feeling frustrated.
    If we ask the question we need to mean it.
    Communication is about Listening and we ALL have Improvements to make.

  • Such an honest and relatable post. I’ve been having a difficult time over the past 2 months, and my response to how are you has definitely been a forged “great!”. Sometimes I think it’s good to fake it till you mean, other times I think it would be better if we all were more honest all the time. Pretending to be wonderful when you’re not can be a very heavy burden to bare at times. Sure, you’re not going to want a whole bunch of strangers or mild acquaintances unload a whole bunch of issues on you, but I think it would make us all more generally aware and be more kind to each other.

    And once and for all, there’s no shame in not being okay. In fact, being okay all the time seems totally freaky and you might be insane ;)

    xoxo – Kelly
    http://www.dreaminlace.com

    • Wonderful, wonderful comment Kelly! Thanks so much. I couldn’t agree more. I’m also sorry to hear you’ve had a rotten time recently but I sincerely hope things look up for you and you’re feeling better than OK soon. :) x

  • Very well put, as ever. Our world does seem to have become utterly obsessed with perfection, doesn’t it? Even just saying you’re OK doesn’t seem to be good enough, let alone admitting that maybe things aren’t always great every single day. But who are we kidding, really? Our friends, family and colleagues? Or ourselves?

    I think that your real friends are the ones you can turn to and tell them you’ve had a crap day/week/year knowing they won’t judge you. I don’t mind too much that most people only tend to show the best edited bits of their lives to us – it’s when they judge you based on your bad moment as if they never experience any themselves …

    • Exactly that Tim. And there’s no doubt about it, people do! However, I’d rather be open and honest and encourage those I love to be the same, than be someone who turns a blind eye to someone’s suffering or passes judgement. Thanks for your smashing comment.

  • Thanks for this truly honest post. We are so wrapped up in our lives being perfect, and showing our meals (I can’t see why!) all the things that get shown to be in the ‘gang’. Nobody ever says things aren’t perfect and if they do people tend to ignore it studiously. Thank you for this. I hope you feel good but if not maybe tomorrow you will. Good wishes

    • Thanks so much Angelica. I do love a pretty picture and a happy post but sometimes,we all just need to know we’re all the same don’t we? Thanks for popping by! x

  • I agree in theory, but twice this week I gave the honest answer (via email). One person didn’t respond; the other resoonded to the rest of my email & entirely ignored that part, the real bit where I opened up & made myself vulnerable. I’m not saying we shouldn’t do it, but that we need to choose carefully who we’re real with, which is kinda sad. X

    • Oh my goodness. That’s awful. However…I would say, does it really matter what their response is? Of course, you want and would totally expect a decent person to respond and show some kindness, but as my husband always tells me, not everyone is like us. I’m so sorry you didn’t get the response you deserve but don’t allow a couple of people who clearly lack empathy to stop you being open and honest. x

  • Oh huni, I hope you are o.k. I am often not o.k and most of the time do just as you say. We should be more honest, but I guess no-one wants to come across as moaning. Bigs hugs huni xxx

    • Thanks darling. I’m fine. The post was really to help others who may not feel ok, as I haven’t felt ok for the past few months but am on my way to feeling much better now. I think there’s a difference between moaning and expressing our feelings and I’m sure most people understand that. xxx

  • What a fabulous post Kate. You are so right and I think women do it even more than men to a certain extent! There is so much pressure on us to be able to do everything and be strong…it takes its toll I am sure. It is probably only in the last 20 years or so that there has been so much pressure on us…to work, have kids, keep the house in order, sort the bills, do the washing, plan the cooking, cook…blah blah blah! If only people were honest, we would live in a much nicer world. If I don’t feel great, I don’t lie. I don’t neccessarily tell everyone, but I don’t pretend either. Life is too short for pretending. Thanks for making us all feel better!!!

    • Vicki – I could not agree more with everything you said. Perfect comment, thank you and for your lovely words too x

  • That is so true. We are far too obsessed with an Insta-perfect life, and we forget that there’s a real life to lead. A real life where you experience proper emotions. The more disconnected we are from real life for longer periods of time, we get less used to handling our emotions.
    It is absolutely fine to not be ok.

  • I think you are absolutely right. I’m glad you’re feeling better today than you were yesterday and hopefully tomorrow will be better again. I think some of the trouble comes when people ask, ‘how are you?’ and just expect you say I’m fine as they’re walking away or on to the next topic. But when your Mum, best friend or spouse asks you, you need to say the truth. They are the ones that love and care about us.
    A great post that I hope lots of people read and take note of.
    Thank you,
    Amanda #sundaystars

  • Thank you for sharing – this is so very true. I blog about depression and anxiety and I’m always applying this to that subject too. Some days are always going to be hard and life would be a little easier if we felt more comfortable admitting that :) #sundaystars

  • Thank you so much for writing this – today of all days I really needed to read it. Today I’m not ok. I’m feeling sad and hormonal and a bit broken. But hopefully tomorrow I’ll feel a bit better. Thanks for writing such a wonderful, inspiring and insightful post. Xxx

    • It was a pleasure but honestly? Thank you for taking the time to comment, especially on a day when you’re not OK. Sorry to hear you’re feeling all of these things. I hope you feel much brighter and happier very, very soon. x

  • What a brilliant post! It would be so refreshing if more people were honest rather than being all stiff upper lipped and pretending everything is fine when it isn’t. I’m going to try and be more honest about how I’m doing and hopefully it will encourage others to do the same!
    Jemma x

  • What a relief to read this, that’s me you’re writing about, and it’s nice to be reassured that it’s actually normal (although far from ideal) to feel the opposite of how I present some days. I hope you are just tickety boo today! #sundaystars

  • One of the biggest things I have learnt in recovery is that is OK to not be OK. I remember the first time my sponsor told me that and how surprised I was. I responded with something along the lines of “But what will people think? If I am not OK how will x, y and z happen?” and she asked me what I honestly thought would happen if I admitted I wasn’t OK. Did I truly, deep down believe that my carefully managed world would come crashing down? Or would it free me up to deal with it better and possibly prevent an emotional outburst when I (and others!) least expect it? A great post Kate and one I hope helps others. x

    • Wow. Thanks so much Rachel.I’m so chuffed to read this comment, to know that the post is in line with what the professionals say. So many of us, keep so much pain and so many worries inside, pretending everything is ok on the outside. It’s hard to be honest, it’s painful to be vulnerable but I’ve learned – as have you – that it’s the best and healthier way to be. Thanks for this x

  • Great post! Whilst I agree with what you are saying I also think sometimes we don’t admit to how we are feeling because we just don’t have the energy to explain how and why we aren’t having a good day – I know I do! I think a lot of it depends on past experiences too. When I was widowed 8 years ago, it was obviously the lowest point in my life – in saying that I have had a bad day because work was tough seems to be so insignificant in comparison.
    I think the important thing is to be able to ask for help when we need it.
    Sorry to hear you had a bad day, hope all is well now *hugs* Karen x

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