Simply Shreya: toxic positivity


Morgan Kong

Wingspan’s Shreya Jagan shares her personal take on issues and experiences in her weekly column Simply Shreya.

Shreya Jagan, Staff Reporter

There are times when I force myself to see the glass half-full even when it may be empty.

We all need positivity in our lives, something that keeps us happy. 

What happens when we try to make happy when we’re only given sadness? 

Toxic positivity is what happens when we don’t stop to think and realize that it’s OK if things aren’t going great. This is the push for a state of mind where only “good vibes” are allowed and we’re held back from expressing any other emotion inside except happiness. 

It’s ironic because shutting down our natural system of sentiments to display one specific one 

can actually end up changing us to be more negative and hurt more than what we started out with, making it harder and harder to truly deal with what life throws at us. 

But what I’ve realized is that we can force toxic positivity onto other people as well. For example, on certain occasions, I just want to be able to acknowledge the fact that I’m not having the best day, and when somebody else lets me know that everything is fine, it makes me think that I’m overreacting or what I’m going through shouldn’t be justified as a legitimate problem. The worst thing you can do for somebody is to decide for them what they’re going through. So, be there for a friend. In situations like these, silence speaks the most. 

I was taught to be positive and look on the bright side of things and while I still agree with that philosophy, I also believe that it’s OK to accept the fact that things are hard and work toward helping my emotions instead of changing them. 

And this feeling of having to stay positive is seen almost everywhere. We subconsciously save it inside when we see things in books, movies, and even online, leading us to think in this unique manner. 

When we’re outside or on social media, we paint this picture of purpose and positivity that we showcase to the world and we convince ourselves that this is how we truly feel. But sometimes when I’m alone and left with my thoughts, some of my true feelings shine through and they may not be the prettiest but it’s completely normal and even beneficial to accept that you have a range of emotions and that it’s okay to feel all of them.

Do yourself a favor. Allow yourself to feel everything. So that when things truly get better, you can genuinely be happy.