How often do we really get a full picture of someone?  Through the Instagram-shielded lens of our world, lives look more put together, feelings remain dormant, mistakes are hidden down in the depths.  We portray the best image of ourselves, the one that makes it seem as if we're invincible, that makes us feel better about the lives that we're living.


I, for one, am tired.  I'm tired of trying to be my best self at all times.  I'm tired of pretending I don't go to bed with zit cream all over my face, that I don't occasionally break down in tears for seemingly no reason, that I don't constantly question if I'm doing the right thing in this life, that my toddler doesn't throw massive tantrums at times, that I can't acknowledge that there are many days where I'm just sad.

Because the truth is, those are my realities.  


I recently heard of an issue called "smiling depression".  Something about it urged me to learn more.  When reading through it I began to really understand it and realized that at times, that is where I have found myself.

You see, I've gone through most of my life with a smile on my face.  Masking any pain, any frustrations, and any self-doubt.  Putting a smile on my face told the world that I was fine and that my life was floating perfectly by.  

But often times, it wasn't.

And it still isn't.


I have a great life.  I do.  And I appreciate what I do have - a loving husband, a healthy toddler, a great roof over my head, a job working for good people, and friends that are always so supportive.  But in the past when I've talked about feeling low, feeling sad, there is this backlash that comes with it.  The feeling of "You don't understand how good you've got it".  

But I do.  I understand.

But, does that mean that just because on the outside I'm smiling it means on the inside I can't feel sad and hurt and betrayed and lonely and frustrated and lost?  Does it mean that the picture of a perfect life does not afford me the luxury to say that sometimes things go wrong?


The problem with feeling hidden all the time is that at some point things feel as if they're pushing against a wall.  And when the dam breaks, there is no way to stop it.  Feelings rush out on a tidal wave of sadness, covering every surface available until things feel so heavy that you're drowning.

And at those times, where can you turn?  To the people that believe your life is too good to have problems?  So instead, you go back to internalizing.  You rebuild the dam, piece by piece, but this time things are a little more cracked and jagged.  But you hope it holds.  You cross your fingers and stay hidden in the depths.  And you put a smile on your face and keep going.


This essay was written for The Figment.

LIFESarah Hartley1 Comment