What It Feels Like to be the ray of sunshine

Daylia Brock // As Told to by Daylia Brock

It is tense. It always feels tense. My brain is a restaurant during a dinner rush; everyone needs something. The chaos is overwhelming, but I allow it to happen. I always allow it to happen. I fake laugh until it is funny, fake smile until I am happy, sharing positivity and making others see the best side of life without saving any light for myself.

The true problem with my existential empathy is never knowing my limit of how much emotional baggage I can carry until it is too late. The overwhelmingly dark swarm of problems creep in and almost never seem to leave. Stress, panic, fear—I experience the normal emotions; I am no exception to the everyday experiences of anxiety and pressure, but in the presence of people in my life with issues that carry more weight than my own, I invalidate my own problems because they could never compare. It all ends up becoming petty, selfish and trivial. Not knowing I am actually upset about something until it festers and grows into a “real” problem can be exhausting, but my self doubt continues the cycle. Taking care of myself has always been an area with negative stigma, because I worry that once I focus on myself, there is attention taken away from the people in my life who need me more than I need myself. Their happiness will always precede my own.

This unspoken responsibility has become somewhat of a crutch. I hope that making others feel good will rub off on myself, even if it can be devastating when I fail. Being able to invalidate myself and focus on the aid I can give others is just so much easier. However, depending on people’s happiness for my own can bring about conflict when my problems are neglected.

Failure is difficult to process and can vary in definition. People are always looking for someone to blame, but sometimes there is nowhere else to look but in the mirror. These moments of failure are just that, moments. I resolve knowing that I am definitely more than a singular characteristic or a moment in time, and so is the person reading this, and so is each person to have ever existed in history up until now.

It would be silly to say that one thing could define another’s existence, but within the moments of failure and despair, I must keep in mind, the sun cannot falter. The pressure of being a source of light in a solar system of people I care about is exhausting. Sometimes, I feel the pressure get to me, and the light starts to fade. When things get tough, I share the happiness and compassion to everyone that I can, hoping some of it reflects back on me.

It is not all struggle, though. I am happy, whether that source of happiness originates from others or comes from myself can depend on the day. I may treat others with more respect and care than I ever have treated myself, but when you see yourself in the mirror everyday, it is easy to get critical. The opposing perspectives of being a giver versus a receiver is not new. Giving a little more than you can ask for in return is a gesture normal to society, but concepts deemed normal are not always good.

When I feel negativity in the atmosphere, my initial reaction is to contain it within my physical view, and either work through it or try to ignore it. An old motto of being left without something nice to say prompts me to say nothing at all.

Writing down my internal struggle has given me a way to look at my actions through a different lense. I can honestly say I never think to consider my own true happiness an issue of great importance in my eyes, but then again, usually addicts do not see an issue with their actions.

Sometimes I feel that I avoid the bad in life because I cannot take it. My life is good, most things come easily and the people in my life are supportive. The problem is not what goes on outside of my own head, though. Every mistake I make feels like I have hurt those close to me, that I am undeserving of the love that I receive, and I have not given enough of myself to others. I lose myself to the darkness of a single error and feel too guilty to ask for help.

This mentality creates a temple of confidence as strong as a house of cards, tipped over in a puff of air.

Back out of my darkness I feel bright yet trapped in a web of responsibility that swallows me up right back where I was before. I begin to realize this cycle will never end. I am not the sun that shines on the people most important to me. I feel like a mere rat chasing cheese on a wheel, giving power to an outside world that I am not truly a part of, all in the pursuit of true happiness for myself and those around me.

That is what is wrong with me. True happiness does not come solely from others, it is something that must be personally nourished. The real question is if I can manage shedding light on others as well as on myself. Can I truly be happy while others suffer? If I cannot, then I am perfectly well allowing myself to find joy in keeping the lights on for those around me.

There is no reset button. This life is all that I have. While on this earth, if making others happy is all that I accomplish, that is enough for me. Being a ray of sunshine is not rainbows and unicorns, but it would be foolish to say I am not rewarded by others.