Geeks Vs Loneliness: it’s okay to not be okay

Here are a few thoughts on why it's okay not to be okay, and to admit that to yourself and others...

Welcome to Geeks Vs Loneliness. This is our regular spot, where we chat about some of the issues and challenges that some of us face, and hopefully offer a tip or two that may be of use.

We’ve welcomed back Esther Dark this week, who has a few thoughts on not being okay. More to the point, on why admitting that we’re not all perfect is no bad thing. Over to the brilliant Esther, who’s been watching her Star Wars boxset, we suspect…!

Do you sometimes imagine that your alter ego is a Stormtrooper? White armoured, wearing an oversized helmet, with an array of state-of-the-art survival equipment and temperature controls? Stormtroopers are the perfect combination of danger and well, just great style. Or do you see yourself as a Jedi Knight with a lightsaber? A guardian of peace and justice over the galaxy? Star Wars characters inspire the inner superhero in us all – I aspire to the faithful, cute R2-D2.

Role models are great, whether they are realistic or fantasy. However, it’s important to remember that we can’t always be superheroes.

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Having high expectations of ourselves can be draining. We persevere with solving our own problems and desperately try to fix and fight everyone else’s battles. But sometimes we need to recognise our weaknesses, take off the mask and stop pretending that we’re always perfectly okay when the reality is that we just aren’t. Sometimes it’s enough to just keep rolling on like BB-8 and recognise the times we need to wait for help. 

This post is all about ditching the overused litany of “I’m okays” and instead, accepting our weaknesses and embracing the support of others when we need it.  

Everyone has bad days

One in four of us will have a mental health problem in the course of a year. It’s not uncommon to have seasons of despair, loneliness or depression. Would you be ashamed of speaking out about a headache or a physical impairment? You shouldn’t feel embarrassed to speak about your mental health too.

You can’t fight everybody else’s battles

In Star Wars Episode II: Attack Of The Clones, Obi Wan Kenobi couldn’t fight all of Anakin’s battles. As his mentor, he had to take a step back so Anakin could learn to fight for himself, harness The Force in order to grow in power and become a defender of the galaxy (okay, maybe not the best example, as that didn’t end well…). But the point stands that we can’t take on everyone else’s problems, as much as we think we can. It’s good to be a listening ear and a helping hand to those we care about, but overstretching and burdening ourselves is not healthy for us or for those we seek to help.

Don’t wear a mask

Masks rarely help. Covering up your frailties and weaknesses is demanding and exhausting. Plus, who likes being around someone who is perfect is all the time? Bring your worries openly in to the light and stop with the “I’m okays” when all you really want to do is cry. Crying is okay, and has actually been proven to be good for your health, lowering blood pressure and stress levels.

You can’t always fly

Don’t you wish you could soar seamlessly through life, even better, race through it in one of Tatooine’s podracers? Life isn’t always an easy or straightforward journey that passes untroubled through starry galaxies. Sometimes there are uphill battles that need to be taken at a much slower pace. Be realistic and kind to yourself. Things might not be wonderful or amazing, and sometimes being okay with the journey and not the destination is the way forward.

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Finally, remember, it is okay to not be okay. If you’re suffering from a mental health problem or feel anxious, lonely, or depressed, don’t try to be a superhero. Seek support, and instead of repeating “I’m okay”, have a go at saying “I need help”. 

Thanks, as always, for reading.

Esther Dark is a Digital Champion with the brilliant organisation YoungMinds. YoungMinds is the UK’s leading charity committed to improving the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people.