One of the very first things 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. Brush it off. You're trained not to let anyone know you have real feelings. Otherwise, the whole world might come crashing down right in front of you.
I mastered this at a young age. I tried my best to hide every ounce of emotion from everyone I knew, including myself. If I just worked my hardest and kept myself as busy as possible, 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 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 “Ridin' 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 like 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 cry when the store ran out of our favorite candy after a long day of work. 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 absolutely the most 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 are 10 times worse.
One morning in high school, I tripped over a baseboard heater in my parents' house. I wound up facedown on the hardwood floor. Most days, I would've jumped up and acted fine. But that day, I just lay 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 while 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 emotional breakdowns required.
We were both preparing for college, along with keeping a balanced high school life. We didn't have time for the six-month emotional breakdown that we needed. That's when the one-day pity party was 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 rom-com 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. You don't have to pretend that everything is OK 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 lie around and put off all of your responsibilities, and you're allowed to eat only chocolate and popcorn if you so choose.
But even now, after graduating from 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 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. You don't get any excuses.
That doesn't mean that everything is going to magically be OK, but it does mean you have to put in the effort to make things better. You don't have to pretend like life is perfect. It's OK 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 its door, but you can't let them compromise your dreams.
Disclaimer: This article is not meant for those who struggle with depression, anxiety or some other form of mental illness.