Sometimes it can feel like you're on the bench of this game called life. Struggling to be happy for your friend's perfect Facebook lives. It can make us feel like some kind of mean-spirited toad growing humps of envy and bile as we view their grins and good times quickly clicking the thumbs up "like" button lest our resentment leaks out and blots out the sun.
You can view tables of 20 friends in pizza joints, perfect broods of children in high chairs; smug pre-midlifers all high-fiving bonhomie and the air resonant with laughter and tales of ski trips, university reminiscences and forthcoming villa holidays.
This is when you feel like the Little Match Girl with nose pressed up against a happy ideal of life that somehow you didn't just not make it on the guest list but have been shown the door via security. You are not alone.
In fact, I really want you to know and get this - you really are not alone. When you feel that somehow you have fallen short, that you are the only one struggling to cope or to raise a smile would need the benefits of a forklift truck to hoist; just know that you are in good company.
Our feelings of alienation, in what can feel like an alien nation, if we admitted to them, are the things that unite us. We can feel lost, shut out or misunderstood and pretend to have hay fever on the bus when overwhelming thoughts demand a dab of the eye and a honk of the nose.
We can lose our way, see our dreams turn to bitter ash of disappointment and argue with what is instead of how we thought it would be and lose this wrangle with reality 100% of the time. You can feel ridiculous, weak, useless, pathetic, needy or lost but whatever your current mood du jour I have great news to tell you - you are in good company as there are very many people who can relate to what you are going through right now.
There are folk just like you all over who can say they've been there and outgrown the T-shirt and thrown it away. You may not be able to find them right this minute but trust me they are there. Everyone you pass each day has had their share of heart ache and alienation and can relate to the catastrophes and craziness of your own journey. There are moments of peace and happiness in life interspersed with stresses and disappointments, let downs and traumas. You are not alone and although it can feel lonely you are a fully paid up member of the non-exclusive club called humanity.
Find a kind ear to download to and offer the same gesture of loving kindness.
Find a soundtrack for your sorrow whether it's Leonard Cohen or Gershwin, give yourself the little things that comfort be it cake, naps, warm baths or good books and stop fighting it.
Here are a few tips to help you with the "is it just me?" battle:
- How you feel isn't necessarily how things are or will remain. Feelings come and go and you decide which ones to invest in, take seriously or add energy to.
- Things do pass don't fight it. It's OK to say "I am not coping/feeling sad/lost" and allow yourself to heal and recover. It's not a failure to be in a dark, scary or sad place.
- Don't be harsh or judgmental with your self talk. You can learn from this time and you will move on, get wiser and get healthy - heal-thy.
You are not alone. In fact, join the club.