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Happiness Is Often A Pretentious State of Mind
I’m susceptible to varying modes of mood swings, and often I try controlling them by doing a lot of what I call “mood switching”. This occurs when in one moment I’m chatting with my best friend about how messed up I feel about a personal situation I can’t seem to change, while simultaneously having to provide encouragement to another friend feeling exactly the same way I am.
This means I’m very selective when it comes to friends I allow myself to feel vulnerable with, because I have a clear idea of those who I need to always be strong for — or at least appear to be a source of strength for. But lately, I have been thinking about the whole concept of mood switching, and I have consequently been asking myself a lot of questions to better understand why I do it.
The biggest of those question has to do with if my capacity to go from feeling negative about myself to making others feel positive about themselves betrays the genuineness of one of those emotional states. I mean, if I’m really going through a hard time, shouldn’t it be hard for me to switch moods? Perhaps the only way this is possible is if I’m exaggerating the true nature of my despair.
I honestly don’t know if it’s possible for me to do this without feeling like a pretentious liar, and the fact I don’t know puts into doubt the intensity of my presumed low, and the authenticity of my supposed high when it crosses my mind as an after thought. Because how can I claim to be sad but still find the time and capacity to make others happy?
In other words, I’m thinking maybe I’m never really as sad as I make out when I’m feeling depressed about something, and perhaps maybe I’m never really as positive as I might sound when chatting with a friend seeking a reason to remain hopeful regardless of the situation they find themselves.
This absurdity seems the only way I can explain how I can be two different people at the same time, with those I’m chatting with not having a clue as to my true state of mind at that given moment. And what is my true state of mind? I think my true state of mind is that of a melancholic cynic — the fact of which is disputable when you consider I happen to also have a good sense of humour.
I’m probably the most complicated person I know, and sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever get to fully understand the depth of my despair, and the shadows of illusions I often mistake for happiness by how well I seem to cope with both. I would admit that as a writer I write better when feeling low, or maybe not writer better, maybe I should say some of my best stories have been written when I’m feeling on the edge.
Thus, a part of me thinks that since it feels natural for me to feel pessimistic or to wake with a cynical feeling about life means that whenever I have to act out of character to stop others from feeling similarly, it becomes easy because most of what I say to inspire and motivate them are things that have been said to me when I have been depressed. And I use the word “easy” generously here, because I believe it’s easier to pretend you’re happy than for you to pretend you’re sad.
I think happiness is like an extroverted clown at a circus, and sadness is like an introvert at the funeral of a close friend. And to be genuinely sad is to have become so consumed by the negative nature of your situation that nothing else matters enough to make you feel otherwise. But happiness is fleeting, so we can embrace it even when we don’t connect to it in a way that corresponds with how intimately we might be expressing it.
Perhaps that’s what I do: I pretend to be happy whenever I need to put on the amour of positivity because I find it easy to switch from sadness as a result of me being used to feeling sad. This means that while I might be honest when I’m hurting, often times I’m acting contrary to how I feel when I’m making you laugh at your pain. And while I don’t think this is bad, I’m convinced it’s not fair because you should mean it when you’re telling someone to be strong.
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