Owning My Melancholy: I'm Sad, And I'm Not Ashamed To Admit It

by Sheena Sharma

Hello? Can you hear me? I’m in California dreaming about who we used to be…

Adele’s latest love song struck a chord with me as I toiled in my own misery on a crowded subway car.

Above ground, we slinked along as the night sky closed in on us. Underground, where I sat, I remember silently praying for rain. I also remember thinking of my first love. I remember tears welling in my eyes. I remember wanting to climb a mountain, shout his name and keep doing so until he found his way back to me.

And I remember that blinking repeatedly to keep tears from running was one of the hardest battles I’ve ever fought with myself.

I wish I could say evenings like that were one-off kinds of nights for me, but they weren’t. In fact, I spent most of my evenings doing just that: navigating through my music player until I found the most poignant song I could, clicking “play,” gazing longingly out a window and antagonizing my inner demons.

It’s become a sort of ritual for me. A mental cleanse. A nearly out-of-body experience.

Some say it's easier to quell your emotions. I say it's easier to feel them. Some say it's beneficial to keep busy and forget your sadness. I say it's poetic to keep to myself and sit with my sadness.

Usually, I can see the light: that happy place full of love and laughter, of keeping others close and keeping busy. More often than not, it is within reach. But upon seeing the light, it fares too bright for me, and I shy away.

Maybe it's a part of who I am, or maybe it's a part of something that made me who I am -- but I always gravitate toward the dark.

I like being sad. Sadness runs through my veins. Unlike my coworkers, whose ear candy ranges from Fetty Wap to Taylor Swift (and no, I’m not telepathic; their iTunes libraries are audible through their headphones), I’m jamming out to Eluvium’s “Prelude For Time Feelers,” a melodic piano piece comprised of no words and all feels.

When I’m happy, I feel complacent; when I’m sad, I feel alive. When I’m happy, I feel like I’m coasting along too comfortably; when I’m sad, I feel like I’m diving into the deepest realm of human emotion, reaching it and holding it in my hands.

And once that spiral into sadness begins, it captures me and holds me tight, leaving me to lose all control of my mind and leaving the projected paths of my mind up to the universe.

It feels strange to put this into writing, but the facts only keep piling up, and it’s time to accept the truth -- I’m drawn to darkness.

I used to think feeling sad was bad. And with good reason. The world we live in prescribes medicine for our melancholy and pills for pain, telling us that being sad is anything but commendable.

I’m a control freak when it comes to nearly all aspects of life, from physical fitness, to my work, to my relationships with friends -- and to love.

Cozy in the cave of the walls I’ve built to protect myself, I only choose men who I can puppeteer, whose actions I can control to some degree so I can prevent them from hurting me (What can I say but that one too many heartbreaks have led me down this road?).

But this is the one place in which I know nothing is up to me. You never know where the spiral will take you -- or when.

Sadness was once my worst enemy, but it's become my best friend. It follows me everywhere I go, like a loyal pet or a faithful companion. It accompanies me on long walks, and it sits with me on park benches. It cradles me with loving arms, and it holds my hand when there’s no one’s hand to hold.

Sadness knows no bounds. Sadness is where my heart lies. Sadness never betrays me, and sadness never steers me wrong. In that way, it’s my most coveted characteristic, my most prized possession. I’m never let down when I’m feeling down. Friends and lovers come and go, but sadness stays by my side.

To most, sadness is invisible; to many, it’s undetectable. But it’s there, unwavering in its presence and unremarkable in its steadfastness, guiding me through every decision I make, every project I begin, every love I end, every journey I consider.

A good friend once told me he was sad. I told him I’m sad, too. And so, we commiserated in each other’s sadness.

He told me he wanted to be in love. I told him I'd love nothing more than to be in love. He told me life without love is difficult. I told him it's okay to be sad.

He told me he could feel my sadness, and I told him I could feel his, too. Though we feel it most when we are apart, sadness brought us together.

Sadness -- that real, overwhelming, unadulterated sadness -- is like lightning: You never know when it’ll strike, but when it does, it zaps and burns you. It looks dangerous at first glance, but the more you spend time with it, the more you realize it's more beautiful than it is dangerous. It can light up a dark sky if you let it -- through heartfelt music, through a close bond with a friend, through the power of the written word.

My name is Sheena. I am sadness personified. I can be good at hiding it, though I can't help but feel it.