The Positive Side of Being Negative

For as long as I can remember, my friends and family have described me as someone who’s really positive. I try hard to see the best in every situation, live a life of gratitude, and radiate positive energy. And let me tell you, it’s EXHAUSTING.

Woman staring at phone at night Photo by mikoto.raw from Pexels

Sometimes (actually quite often), I just want to call my mom and complain. Complain about things that probably aren’t even big deals but I’ve been thinking about them long enough for them to become big deals. I read into things I’ve said and done (which I know I can no longer change), I go over hypothetical situations in my head and get myself frustrated, and, as an activist, I get rather pessimistic witnessing the lack of social change around me. And of course, I think back to embarrassing moments in my childhood and try very hard not to cringe. Sometimes I just want to sit on my bed and drown in my own sorrow.

And then it happens. On the rare occasion that I do give in to my negativity, someone hits me with a “Don’t be so negative! It’s contagious!” 

Sad woman with smudged mascara holding a fake smile Photo by Sydney Sims from Unsplash

Since when have our emotions become more about the people around us than about us, the people feeling those emotions? Why are we so concerned with how other people see us to a point where we suppress how we feel? All that tension builds up in our chests and we just pop, making the people around us view us in a worse light than if we were open and honest about our feelings in the first place. Who cares if I’m a “Negative Nancy” every once in a while?

It’s important to remember that it’s okay to not be okay. Negativity isn’t a weakness. It isn’t an undesirable trait. It’s human. It’s okay to have those gloomy days where you want nothing to do with the world.

Three people jumping joyfully on snowy day Photo by Zachary Nelson from Unsplash

Why? Because negativity makes us stronger. It makes us more grateful for the positive moments in our lives. It makes us more empathetic towards others when they are having their off days. It makes us take a more realistic approach to our goals where we would otherwise just cross our fingers, hope for the best, and end up disliking the outcome. It makes us recognize a problem at the beginning so that there is potential for a solution. It helps us find a common ground with the people that we would least expect ourselves to connect with... after all, misery loves company!

But most importantly, it makes us realize that in order to radiate positive energy, we must work through and understand our negativity first. It isn’t healthy to be positive all the time. You need to feel the way that you feel. Once you feel it, you can move past it. Take as much time as you need and put on that Sam Smith playlist so that when you’re ready for it, your positivity is not a performance but a reality.