Blog, Bookish Life

My Bad Romance with Sadness


Sadness is my North Star. A number of years ago, as I was graduating college and asked about my prospects, I endured the writhing in my body. Where I was in life was not near where I worked towards. Over time, I recognize that sadness isn’t seasonal. It sure wakes me up. 

Luvvie Ajayi Jones tweeted about toxic positivity, a term that rests in my psyche. Toxic positivity is defined as an obsession with positive thinking. I can only have one obsession at a time and that is dance class videos by Haim.

In a society where gratitude is weaponized, it can feel like a race to find joy instead of cultivating its multitudes. Many write down three things to feel grateful for. What if you included “My sadness is worthy of reflecting on”? You do not wallow in your sadness. You allow yourself to let it seep then wash away from you, at least for the time being.

It is important to acknowledge all facets of your emotions. That your tears can be nourishing. That your rage comforts your spirit. It can be a presence for you to move forward. Being the person whose face is brighter than a poster for “Glee” is not healthy. 

I can grumble. I can linger in bed longer than usual. I do not need to contradict how I truly feel with the facade of gratitude. I can be sad. You should be sad. 

These are book suggestions I love to reconnect with: 

  1. This is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare by Gabourey Sidibe: I mention this book again because Sidibe’s voice about her experiences resonates with the reader in a refreshing and funny tone. 
  2. Professional Troublemaker: The Fear Fighter Manual by Luvvie Ajayi Jones: Ajayi Jones makes the sense when asked make it make sense. In her second acclaimed book, she writes about how to tackle fear to step into our legacies and dreams. It reads as an ambitious motivation. She was also a guest on the Feminist Book Club podcast. 
  3. A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum: When my friend recommended this book to me as one that made her sad, I knew I needed to read it. At its core, three generations of Palestinian American women struggle to express their desires amidst a revelation of intimate abuse. The prose holds onto your heartstrings. 

I encourage you to reconnect with all of your emotions. It may be fear, joy, anger, or whatever was featured in the animated film “Inside Out.” Owning your emotions is a compass, an honor, and a responsibility to evolve. 

Ashley Paul is a hopeless wanderer, baker, runner, and photographer. She is passionate about supporting high school juniors and seniors to write compelling stories for their post-secondary careers. Her favorite genres are young adult, literary fiction, and memoir.

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