We need to build a society where people aren’t expected to be happy all of the time.
Whether it’s keep calm and carry on, being told to smile or maintaining the stiff upper lip, denying our emotions is doing more harm than good.
What is rarely talked about though is just how much pressure capitalism puts on us to be okay – and most importantly, to be productive. Our value is defined by how much we contribute in society.
“Our value is defined by how much we contribute in society”
To keep on smiling means to keep on going. Get up, go to work, come home and don’t let other people see what you’re dealing with. It’s why high functioning anxiety and depression are rarely taken seriously; if we can work then society thinks we need less support because everything revolves around making sure we’re productive.
We need to get rid of this mentality and make the workplace accessible for those with mental health conditions. Workplaces must be more open, accommodating, adapt to flexible schedules and hours and prioritise the happiness of the workforce.
Letting people get upset, being angry and being anything other than perfect should not be okay. We need to reassure people that their bad days are okay, so are the days when they’re just exhausted. We shouldn’t need to ever wear a mask but so many people are forced to.
Denying our conditions means not being able to access appropriate support – and it’s a path that can cause so much more harm in the long run. It’s okay not to smile or be the life of the party. It really is okay to not be okay.
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