Sometimes I just want to talk about my sh*tty day.
The double buzz goes off on my phone, indicating a notification from Facebook Messenger — and my eyes involuntarily roll backward in my head.
Who will it be today inviting me on a journey to the land of Zen and good vibrations?
I'm not even going to bother explaining the reasons I may have for feeling a tad grumpy on any given day. These grumps and this mood are all mine. As I read on Pinterest earlier, they aren't secrets, and they're still NONE of your business.
Even if I don't feel like going into them at the moment, I still don't have to pretend to be all sunshine and Rainbow Brite for you — or for anyone else.
I get the feeling more and more often these days that there is a society wide phobia of ever feeling down.
I get it. I happen to have the good old "We tend to seek happiness, when happiness is actually a choice" poster hanging in bright red on my own damn living room wall. I like it and I am keeping it there. It's just that I'm starting to come to the realization that if on some days I choose NOT to choose happiness, that is still OK.
Because ALL of my feelings are my own choice, thanks.
And lately it feels like WAY too many people out there seem to think the only valid emotion anyone should choose is happiness.
This current phenomenon of "zenning" everyone else out is, quite frankly, bugging the shit out of me.
While it plays out in all kinds of situations and relationships, I've noticed it particularly within interactions between men and women.
See, I have this little inkling that the vast majority of men only like smart, strong women in theory.
Research has actually backed this up, yet whenever I say that to a man, they quickly exclaim, "No way! I love smart, strong women! I want someone who is my equal."
Yes, sir. I believe that you do. In theory.
I believe most men do love having a partner who they can have an engaging, even exciting conversation with. I believe most men love a woman who is a bit of an intellectual challenge. I believe most men love to know the woman they are with doesn't need them financially for survival.
I also believe most men want a bouncy, bubbly cheerleader in their court at all times — and that they do NOT want to feel required to bounce and bubble in return.
Therein lies the big dilemma.
Because a woman who is smart, strong and successful is, by definition, a woman whose life includes multiple areas of struggle that make it extremely difficult to bubble all times of day and night, as well as to feel fulfilled in a relationship with a man who won't also bubble for her when she needs it most.
Here's an example of a pretty typical interaction I've experienced with men who try to blow Zen up my ass (which I've heard echoed in similar stories of other strong women I know).
I send a text to Man around 4pm: "Hey! How's your day going?"
Man: "It's been brutal. I'm wiped."
Me: "I'm sorry. Maybe you need a back rub soon (winky face) ..."
Man: "That sounds fantastic (happy face)! How's your day been?"
Me: "Brutal too. Wow. So so busy."
Man: "But busy is good right?"
Me: "Yeah, for sure. I'm just exhausted and pretty stressed."
Man: "Hey, positivity is all a state of mind. You need to focus on what was good. Look at me, I just choose to be happy."
Um ... OK. Thanks?
Inevitably, Man feels I have "too much going on right now," and/or I feel like I am giving all I can without being acknowledged for my support or given any in return.
And Man goes bye-bye.
I know these conversations come from a well-intentioned place. It's not like I think men are being mean or malicious by encouraging me to be happy.
Regardless of intentionality, telling someone to stuff down, shrug off, or otherwise cover-up their authentic feelings is passive-aggressive, dismissive and encouraging of generally unhealthy coping mechanisms.
It's not that I don't believe in the power of positivity. I'm big fan of the work of Abraham-Hicks. I do believe that there is merit to the theory of vibrational alignment, and I have absolutely felt benefits when I have gotten into the mind-space of Law of Attraction/quantum physics type stuff.
But I don't need or want you take me there. Sometimes I just want to tell you about my shitty-ass day.
It is possible, after all, to acknowledge the feelings of someone else while supporting them and lifting their spirits at the same time.
One habit I've tried purposely to adopt — while admittedly forgetting to put it into practice on plenty of occasions — is to ask the person, male or female, telling me about their rough day, "Do you need me to just listen right now, or are you looking for my thoughts or opinions as well?"
You'd be surprised how the simple act of asking someone what they need from you in the moment instantly lifts them up. Your friend or partner feels heard and supported, you feel appreciated — because people are generally grateful when you take the time to ask about their needs — and everyone feels at least a teeny bit happier.
No zenning required.