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By: Karen Caton-Brunings

Yup. Me too. I'm feeling it. You know, the feeling of anxiety at school pick-up or the grocery store as you desperately try to hide discomfort, dread, and fear with lipstick and a smile.

That feeling.

I am feeling it too.

I felt it before Covid-19, but now, I feel like someone has their foot on the gas pedal, and the car is both running out of gas and accelerating toward a brick wall.

We live in a world that loves simplicity and perfection. We like things to be tidy and neat, clean and uncomplicated. We'd love nothing more than to have everything be unbroken.

So we bust our humps to make things look pretty. Enter lipstick and smiles and the gripping uncomfortability of playing make-believe to keep everyone feeling comfy. Everyone except ourselves.

Life is bumpy and messy as hell, but according to Instagram and, well, the grocery line, you'd never know it. Most of us aren't taking a closer look at ourselves or each other, because if we did, we'd see the cracks, chips, fractures, and gaping holes of living real human lives.

Newsflash... We are not supposed to be perfect or happy all of the time.

We are supposed to have a good cry, lose our minds, and huddle in a ball now and again. Global pandemics are supposed to shake us. Divorce and health diagnoses are supposed to leave marks and cracks; just like travel, special moments with family and friends, and soul care are supposed to help fill those cracks. We are human!

When we chase good, acceptable, tidy feelings, we never feel happy where we are. We end up dismissing a fundamental part of the human experience which isn't tidy at all. We live a half-life filled with the disappointment that we aren't blissful and content all the time.

As a society, we created a story so good that we believe it, hook, line, and sinker. The story is that being sad, angry, frustrated, and anxious are dangerous prospects. We believe that it separates us from the pack. So, from an evolutionary perspective, we run from that shit!

But without those feelings, the depth and color of joy, love, and happiness feel flat and shallow. However, our feelings and experiences are the very things that connect us. The truth is, we all feel ALL of the feels. What separates us is how we share or hide them.

What if we can be both happy and sad?

What if we had permission to be mad and still be loving?

Um... we do. It isn't someone else's foot on the gas pedal; it's our own. So lift your damn foot and put down the lipstick. The dangerous feelings we run from are far less dangerous when we stop running from them.

We connect to ourselves and each other more deeply when we bring these truths to the conversation. All it takes is vulnerability and authenticity... Gulp.

We can be all things and survive. When we stop trying so hard to not feel all the human feelings, we actually thrive.

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