Society prefers public shows of joy and emphasizes the private moments of despair.
On Youtube, there are videos of wedding celebrations and baby’s first steps. And even with sadness, it’s a focus on the happy things—the perfect, good memories. Yet, it’s unhealthy, of course, to dwell in unhappiness, to let its burden sink the soul. And I can find so little about specifics of what went wrong and how it went wrong.
A few days ago in a search for a tax accountant, I came across yet another SF-type startup that would connect me with professionals. I quickly put together a bid. After I submitted, I browsed through the website, looking at video testimonials and recent transactions. Then I saw a name and face that I hadn’t seen since my college days. A person who had represented the ideal life an adult. Happily married, having fun, satisfied jobs. In college, I admired the union, perfection and mutual support. That could be me, one day, I thought then.
In college, she took a photo of a mural in Chinatown. I had taken the same photo too a few months before she posted it. And I wanted to know how she did it so well.
So I naturally clicked on the video expecting a tirade of advertising for the service. To my shock, she said, “I am a single mom.”
After college, I had forgotten about her and her husband, finding other goals. But far back in my mind, I always wondered. How can one pursue art with support? How can one be happy in relationships? They did it, after all. So I searched the Internet curious about what happened. But nothing popped up. All I found was delicious content that if made today would naturally spread virally. The alternative way to marriage and all of that.
And yet, in the photo and video, she hid all of that. She was herself, without the partner. All happiness and the spunk.
And whatever despair, there was, it was hidden. Gone. Because everyone wants to celebrate joy. And not frown at broken moments where we need help the most.