One of my very good friends, John, has made it a habit to check up on me from time to time. “Hey, you okay?” he messages at random hours, on random days.
Unless things are really bad, I usually tell him I’m fine, not to worry, because to be honest, I am either sunflower or stormcloud. There is no in between, at least for now, so “okay” can mean either of the two, because either of the two is “normal.”
I catastrophize a lot. It means I tend to think of the worst case scenario and blow it out of proportion. My friend Esther once told me that I like being miserable. I recoiled from that statement then, but now, older and maybe a bit more self-aware, I realize that miserable–maybe that’s too strong a word; we’ll go with melancholy–is almost comforting in its familiarity. Over the past few years, I have learned to understand being sad better than being happy.
I don’t trust what isn’t familiar. It often slips away just as I get used to it. Maybe that’s why melancholy, in a weird way, is “okay” to me: it’s somewhat consistent, predictable, reliable in a twisted way, else why would my Facebook memories show me that one year ago today, two years ago today, I was posting sad posts?
(I think this time of year, lots of people tend to get sad?)
But back to John. The last time he messaged, asking me if I was okay, I did the usual thing I always do: deflected. I told him I was managing, that I was stressed but it was nothing serious. I told him not to worry, because I don’t like people worrying.
“I’ll always worry.” He messaged back. There was a smiling emoji, which in internet-speak I think means the fact didn’t bother him. And for a moment–or, okay, longer than a moment, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this–it felt good to know that there were people out there who weren’t bothered by the fact that they worried about me from time to time. Because, and maybe I’m extrapolating a bit too far here, it means that I’m worth worrying about.
I’m really thankful for the people who think I’m worth worrying about. I still don’t like it when they worry, though, so I’m working hard on–because, guys, it really is work; life requires effort–being okay, really. Okay isn’t good. It isn’t even fine.
It’s just: I’ll get through this day. I won’t fall apart. You don’t have to worry.
But I’m thankful that you do.