For the past year and a half, my life has quite literally been a series of unfortunate events.
I have several effective methods for coping with the stress and negativity I have experienced—I practice yoga, I write, I nap, I paint, and I socialize.
I also complain—I complain a lot.
And no, I will not apologize for complaining.
The media teems with encouraging messages about being happy, appreciating what we have and focusing on the positives in our lives—and I agree with these messages.
But I also believe in embracing all emotions, not just the positive ones.
Life is not all rainbows and unicorns and butterflies. We will also encounter beasts and snakes and storm clouds.
And when we deny ourselves the opportunity to complain—to be angry, to feel the negativity—we deny ourselves the opportunity to fully heal.
More importantly, we deny ourselves the opportunity to actively participate in being human.
Complaining has been essential to my healing process. It has helped me make sense of my emotions and experiences. It has allowed others to understand what I am going through, what my needs are and how they can support me.
Complaining also serves as a catharsis—a release of tension.
When I complain through my art and writing, I am able to look back at the hardships I’ve survived and acknowledge how far I’ve come and will continue to come. I have found that embracing the negative emotions enables me to better appreciate the positive ones.
To be clear, I do not believe that complaining and being positive are necessarily mutually exclusive. More often than not, the positives and negatives in life coexist. Completely immersing ourselves in one, while neglecting the other is problematic.
Complaining has not prohibited me from living my life, carrying out my daily tasks to the best of my ability or enjoying myself. In fact, many of my friends have noted how strong and positive I’ve been, in spite of all that I’ve gone through.
It does not make one weak to complain about the negative experiences in life. It simply makes one human, grappling with the realities of the world.
I have found that taking “the and approach”—namely acknowledging and accepting both the negatives and the positives in our lives—has helped me move forward. For example, my current situation really sucks, and things will get better. I’m going through sh*t, and I have so much to be grateful for. I am struggling and suffering, and I am strong and will get through this.
So be negative—and be positive.
For there is solace and growth to be found in both.