The space between our feelings. The place we don’t talk much about. I’m talking about the great grey areas of life. The “sort of’s”, the “okay’s” and the “shrugs”. And we don’t talk about them because that would mean admitting the worst thing. Worse than having a “legitimate” reason to feel bad or sad or having an absolutely fantastic day. We don’t talk about feeling “okay” with life because, what the hell is just “okay”? How on earth can life be reduced to such a mundane thing? Well. It can and it is.
So in between the excitement of holidays or Christmas or family days out or concerts with friends, we have to put food on the table and pay bills down the post office. And there you have the grey areas of our day to day life. Then you get these bigger grey areas that last endless months or even years: they’re the spaces between relationships, like the times you wish you had someone to hold on to; the time you spend in jobs, dead end or unfulfilling, knowing you’re just killing time ’til you figure it all out; the feeling you can’t quite put your finger on, when you’re not depressed or anxious anymore but you’re not really happy either.
Because the world wants us to be something, anything they can explain. They want to put us in boxes labelled “outgoing” or “shy” or “the life and soul of the party” or “the one who sits in the corner”. And sometimes we are those things. But most of the time we’re a little bit of everything. It depends how we are on any particular day, and if our head is in the right space. We’re a grand mix of grey, 50 shades of you like, and trying to find some kind of constant utopia or an acceptable melancholy is messing us up, big time.
I’ve realised we have to start being okay with being grey. Those times of life that teach us to plod along without event or much purpose, those times teach you the biggest lessons. How can you feel great sadness or joy if that’s all you’ve ever known? Extreme highs and lows are meant to be stabilised by the mediocre and mundane. And it can be so confusing because we’re meant to live our life right? Get out there and dream? Our human brains haven’t quite caught up with the fast pace of the modern world. With technology and social media, our phones making us constantly available, 24 hour news. The middle of the night isn’t the middle of anything anymore – there’s always something to watch, places to drive, maybe some 24 hour shopping to do. I mean don’t get me wrong, it’s great that if I need a bottle of coke (or vodka) at 2am I can get it. But that accessibility to do whatever I want, whenever I want, makes me feel a little inadequate when I can’t think of something interesting to fill every minute of every damn day.
And then… The last sort of grey area, which is perhaps the hardest to explain, is when we’re asked a question that should have a simple answer. And we can’t for the life of us answer it straight. It’s usually the big, life changing questions. The “do you love me”, “what have I done wrong”, and “are you happy” ones. The ones that should be a one word answer but all you can think is an internal monologue about contradictions and opposing feelings and the fact that even after giving it all the thought in the world, you’re just confused about what you need and want. People don’t like it when we don’t know what we want or need. And that’s the grey we don’t want to talk about. We don’t want to watch marriage proposals where they say “maybe”. We don’t want to hear that “sometimes” our elderly relative wants to be relieved of their time on earth because despite our best efforts, they’re tired today. We don’t want to know that our son or daughter “doesn’t know” why they’re feeling depressed because that means we can’t help them.
So yes. The grey is scary and it’s scary because it’s the great unknown. But the unknown also means we don’t have to understand it and maybe at the end of it all, the grey areas of our lives are the very same things that keep us sane and grounded. After all, we probably only divide the world to stop us feeling scared of all that grey stuff in the middle.