Adidas bomber // Zara top // Zaful skirt c/o // H&M booties
One of the best words of comfort I’ve received was “You’re only human. You’re allowed to be sad.” This was at a time I was losing a grip on my happiness streak and I’d get waves of sadness just suddenly overwhelming me. Each day was a self game to make it to the end without a moment of weakness or breaking down. And each day, I would get closer and closer to achieving that. But for those days when I couldn’t and I’d randomly feel a swing of sadness, I’d think, “I loss today. Got to start over and try again tomorrow, Mai.” So it went. Day by day, a little mind game with the sole goal of pure joy and elation because that was my entire purpose and focus going forward. I transfixed my energy and my efforts to only feel happiness from within and I thought that being happy meant not being sad.
When my dear friend said those words to me on a day I felt like I was losing, I realized I had it all wrong. I had been so caught up in only feeling happiness that I shut out feelings of anything else, including sadness. And as soon as I felt a familiar feeling similar to those from a darker time, I panicked and immediately got mad at myself for letting those feelings in again. Yet, not allowing myself to feel anything else but happiness was anxiety in itself. Limiting myself to only one kind of emotion was just as lonely as feeling sad, too, as I soon realized when I desperately tried to control everything I felt. But I am only human—a beautiful being with a wide spectrum of feelings, emotions, depths, colors. I can be as happy as I can feel sad on some days. And that’s not losing, that’s simply being. A human just being.
I’m entitled to everything I hold within me—the good, the bad, the heavy, the soft, the brave, the weak. And when I feel a little softer than usual, a little weaker than I had hoped on any particular day, I have to remember that I am still doing the best I can and that’s all the validation I need to consider it part of happiness, too. Soft is also strong. Weak is also powerful. Sad is also beautiful. Progress isn’t perfection but rather a growing state of mind, where I’m more aware of my well-being and addressing its needs, even if it means not having it all together sometimes. Isn’t that real living, anyways? Feeling anything and everything at its greatest and worst but still coming out whole.
I’m giving myself its greatest escape and that’s forgiving myself for the times I need it most. Instead of beating myself up for holding stones in my heart, I’m loving that my heart isn’t made of stone. I am made of water and hope but I also let in the shadows that come with the light.
Photography by Thaya