One of the very first things that you’re taught as a teenager in America is to suppress any and all emotion that might creep into your being. It doesn’t matter if a girl says something mean about you or if a cute boy rejects you; either way, you’re taught to swallow your feelings and act like you don’t care. If anything even remotely bad happens, you’re trained not to react, to brush it off. You’re trained not to let anyone know that you have real feeling; otherwise, the whole world might come crashing down right in front of you.
I mastered this at a young age, and I tried my best to hide every ounce of emotion from everyone that I knew, including myself. If I just worked my hardest and kept myself as busy as possible, then there would be no time to feel anything, so I never slowed down. I spent my entire high school career that way. Even when my boyfriend at 16 broke up with me, and I was convinced that my entire life was ending, I only allowed myself to actually feel the heartbreak for less than an hour. I cried with my best friend, then I pulled myself together, put on my sunglasses, sang “Riding SOLO” as loud as I could, and went shopping.
That’s how I did everything. It didn’t matter if it was the heartbreak of a low ACT score or the misery of sitting on the bench in basketball, I acted like none of it mattered. If I just pretended to be happy about every part of my life, then eventually I actually would be, right? But that’s not how life works. In fact, that’s total crap.
Sometime during my senior year when my whole life felt like it was falling apart, kind of how the $1 loofahs from Target always seem to unravel after just a few weeks, one of my best friends and I came up with the One-Day Pity Party. We created it so that we wouldn’t have to feel bad about ourselves when we got upset about boys, we created it so that we could cy when the store ran out of our favorite candy after a long day of work, and we created it so that we could mourn lost opportunities. We wanted to have healthy, balanced lives, and we knew that ignoring our feelings was the absolute incorrect way of dealing with things.
We learned that if you ignore your emotions and don’t let yourself feel things like a real, adult human, the breakdowns were 10X worse. One morning in high school, I tripped over a baseboard heater in my parents’ house and wound up face down on the hardwood floor. Most days, I would’ve jumped up and acted fine, but that day, I just lied there and cried. I wasn’t hurt at all, but I was so emotionally wound up, that lying on the cold floor at 5 AM bawling seemed like a better option than getting ready for school. My mom ended up calling me in sick and forcing me to stay at home because I was in such a bad place emotionally.
As high school girls, we were supposed to be emotional, but we were finally figuring out life, and that meant we didn’t have the time that emotional breakdowns required. We were both preparing for college along with keeping a balanced high school life, and we didn’t have time for the 6 month emotional breakdown that we needed and that’s when the constraints of the OneDay Pity Party were born.
As long as you can legitimize your emotions, you’re allowed to throw a One-Day Pity Party for yourself, no matter the circumstances. You can cry alone in your bed because your favorite RomCom left you feeling more alone and miserable than you’ve felt in a while. Or you can mope around campus with tear-filled eyes after your college boyfriend dumps you. It doesn’t matter how you spend your 24 hours, but you don’t have to pretend that everything is okay for one whole day. For one whole day, you get to wallow in your own self-pity and you don’t have to fake it to anyone. For one day, you’re allowed to lay around and put off all of your responsibilities and you’re allowed to eat only chocolate and popcorn if that’s what you choose.
But even now, after graduating college and entering the real world – three years after this idea was first born, I still don’t have time to lie around moping for any longer than 24 hours. I’ve learned to let myself feel things and to let myself mourn, but I’ve also learned how to hop back on the wagon.
So the next day, the day after you’ve thrown yourself a One-Day Pity Party, you have to get your sh*t together again, and you don’t get any excuses. That doesn’t mean that everything is going to magically be okay, but that does mean that you have to put in an effort to make things better. You don’t have to pretend like life is perfect – it’s okay to be honest with people when you’re hurting, but you don’t get to wallow anymore. The next day, you have to wake up early, drink black coffee, wing your eyeliner, put on your favorite pants, and meet the day ready to tackle your to-do list. You have to let your heart feel when your emotions are knocking on the door, but you can’t let it compromise your dreams.