Recently, I had a conversation with a friend who was surprised that one of her acquaintances, a happy-go-lucky extrovert, admitted that she was secretly having a hard time and felt that no one seemed to like her. My friend didn’t understand how her acquaintance had been so good at hiding her inner turmoil this whole time underneath the fun, joyful persona she seemed to project.
As my friend said this, I nodded, but inside I was thinking of all the times I faked smiles and pretended to be carefree and on top of the world, when all I really wanted was to go home and curl up in my bed. This led me to conclude that you should not always take people at their face value.
In a world where we are socialized to plaster smiles on our faces and greet each other with loud, excited voices and big hugs, it is hard to express when we are having bad days. After all, no one wants to be a Debbie Downer: no one wants to elicit a roll of the eyes, a sigh and a weary, “you must be fun at parties with that attitude!”
In college, I am seen as a fairly cheerful person, and for the most part, I am pretty happy. I like being optimistic, loud and friendly because that positive energy seems to be infectious and radiates to the people around me. This is the prime of our lives. This is the time we should look back on as our good old days.
But being in college is still overwhelming, and everyone has their bad days. I think it’s important to check up on our friends once in a while and see if they are doing OK. Ask them if they need anything. More importantly, be a listening ear.
I have always been a person my friends can vent to: That’s a guarantee I give all the people I love. Some problems have no solutions, but instead of giving people a list of instructions on what you think they should do, just let them talk it out. A lot of the time, they’ll arrive at the solution on their own. Or, at the least, they’ll feel less sad, distressed or angry than they did before they started talking.
Let’s not be scared of opening up whenever we aren’t in the best places. It can be tempting to push our problems under a rug and assume no one cares. But someone always does. And human experience is relatable. So, check up on your friends, however happy and carefree they may appear. People are not always what they seem.