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Welcome to Okay: The Gift of Curiosity

Hello! You are very, very welcome here. You are welcome here in whatever fashion you have come. You are welcome if you feel happy or sad, lonely or satisfied, joyful or devastated. This Collective is a place that defines the emotional landscape in which we live as more likely a combination of all of the above “feeling” words. And while we try to weed through the “negative” associations we have with feeling depressed, sad, grieved, anxious, scared, and every other feeling my therapists wanted to help me get through, get over, and change, let’s first talk about the word Okay.

Why did I decide to name this The I’m Okay Collective? Why not The I’m Happy Collective? Or I’m Emotionally Stable Collective? Or The I'm Damn Depressed so Leave Me Alone Collective? Good question. Those words all contain something so heavy that we barely comprehend what we do when we use them. Beautiful, descriptive words indicating how we feel have been used to label, hospitalize, medicate, and shame.* So before we tackle befriending depression, grief, anxiety, anger, let’s approach with compassion and begin with that benign yet deceptive word: Okay.

In the work I do as a community peer support specialist, I talk to many, many people who need more emotional support than they know how to find. Perhaps it’s a crossroads, perhaps it’s a bottomless pit; either way they need help and appreciate receiving support from someone who has “been there.” One of the most common conversation threads I find myself weaving is the idea that we are all okay. My peers look at me funny because, to them, the emotions they are feeling are clearly NOT okay. Shouldn’t they want to NOT feel angry, scared, depressed, etc.? Not necessarily, I say. The more we tell ourselves we shouldn’t feel something, the more shame we feel around an authentic human experience such as Feeling Life.

I also share how our society quickly teaches us that stoicism is rewarded while sensitivity is punished. Thick skins are lauded; thin skins are shunned. When we push away our feelings, we alienate our very selves. Something has to give. Someone has to say It’s Okay. I’m Okay.

It’s Okay to Not Be Okay.

Let this Collective be the chorus that says these things. Let this Collective begin with one voice, this voice you read, and let it grow to many. Voices that all sound different, voices that are high and low and in the middle. Voices that are quiet and timid, and voices that are rambunctious and gleeful.

You might think this Collective is a pie-in-the-sky initiative, a “wouldn’t it be nice” cloud-thought. I say, No. This can be how we raise the next generation of humans to treat themselves and each other. Just imagine: humans embracing their humanity, finding purpose in their humanity. People finding acceptance with their humanity.

What if we were all Okay?

Would you dare to join in the conversation? It's a risk, I know. I encourage and invite you to reply to the image in the next blog post. You can either post in the comments or go to the Contact page and email me your thoughts. I would love to have as many voices here as possible. I am happy to publish your response anonymously or with your first name and initial, if that feels comfortable.

With compassion & curiosity...

The I'm Okay Collective

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