What COVID taught me about fake positivity

This guest feature has been written by Skylar Rae, who talks about how her loss of independence and sense of “normality” because of the COVID-19 pandemic actually instigated a positive shift in both her mindset and life as a whole.

Not only did I find Skylar Rae’s feature super interesting, but also relatable; after reading her feature, I realised that for a large portion of 2020 I had been channelling “fake positivity” myself. It’s a super important topic to talk about, so thank you Skylar Rae for sharing!

Fake positivity vs. real positivity

My name is Skylar Sustin and I am a 20-year-old college student from Southern California. 

Growing up, I was always a very optimistic and happy person. However, last year I began to realize I never really understood what the difference between fake positivity and real positivity was. 

Therefore, my journey to adapting a more authentically positive lifestyle really began in 2020. Last year was one of the toughest years we experienced as individuals and as a collective. For most of it I was not exactly faking my happiness, but I wasn’t being honest about how much I was struggling either.

The beginning of COVID and my fake positivity

I was away at college and I felt like my life was just coming together. I was enjoying school, had so much fun with my friends, finally getting past needing to see my family, and felt happier than I had in a long time. 

Then the rumors about school moving online started to circle around and shortly after it became my reality. I ended up having to move home and abandon my independence and my new comfort. 

The months we were stuck in quarantine and nothing was open were the worst for me. On the inside, I was angry, frustrated, and resentful. I felt so stuck that I sometimes found it hard to breathe. I remember nights I would cry myself to sleep longing for the life I had back; I just wanted to get out and be free. I felt like the circumstance I was in was dragging me down, taking me 10 steps backward when all I wanted to do was run forward.

Photo by Skylar Rae from Instagram

The thing is, I didn’t know I was hurting on the inside. I was in so much denial I was even fooling myself. On the outside, I was “staying positive” and keeping busy. I would work out every day, have a lot of schoolwork and work more. If I weren’t occupied with something, then I would remember what was going on and that I wasn’t away at school – something I didn’t want to feel.

My relationships struggled too. I was snappy and mean to my family; we would argue a lot and I would be impatient in conversations. I unconsciously became desperate for external validation from my boyfriend and would project how I was feeling on him, creating uneasy conversations. 

I never realized any of this while I was going through it. Instead, I thought I was fine because I did not have it as bad as others – so why would anything be wrong with me? I thought I was staying positive by reminding myself of that. I thought all I needed was to get to the end of summer, get back to school and I would be okay. This is that fake positivity: ignoring the negative, forcing myself to focus on the positive, and waiting for something to happen in order to feel happy.

My perspective switch and learning what real positivity is

A lot of events led to my turning point in living a more positive lifestyle. 

It began in May 2020, when it was announced that we would not be going back in person for the fall semester, and then in July when my roommates and I decided we wouldn’t be moving back into our apartment. I was devastated.

These events took away the little bit of hope I had left that life would go back to normal. Realizing this brought up all the emotions I had been bottling up and I didn’t know what to do with myself.

During this time my boyfriend had said to me “you can’t change your circumstance, but you can change your perspective”. This was the first thing that really made me wake up. Once I began processing this statement I began to see everything so much more clearly.

Photo by Skylar Rae from Instagram

I wasn’t being positive. I was using positivity as a cover-up for how I was really feeling. I was taking all my negative emotions out on the people I loved. I never accepted what was going on, I was battling it. I was fighting in a war I would never win because how I felt would only change once I looked it in the eyes and dealt with it.

I also began to realize that while I was so focused on just getting out, I missed out on all the good that coming home actually brought into my life. I was able to spend more time with my family, be closer to my boyfriend, and begin the inner work to step into my true self.

I also began working with an emotion release practitioner to learn how to accept what is instead of trying to force a change, release my emotions in the moment, and then work on finding ways to be happy in the now. 

What I learned/tips to help you adopt a more positive mindset

  • You can’t change your circumstance, but you can change your perspective
  • In order to truly look on the positive side, you have to first work on accepting the negative parts and let yourself feel the emotion rather than ignore it
  • Consistently practicing gratitude is the key to a more positive mindset
  • Being present in life helps you enjoy it rather than worry about it
  • One of the most important things is to be honest & vulnerable with yourself
  • It’s okay to ask for help and share how you are feeling with others
  • You have to let go of your ego in order to grow and have healthy relationships
  • You are not a victim of your circumstance
  • Go with the flow – not everything needs to be perfectly planned
  • Establish a method of self-care that you can enjoy
Photo by Skylar Rae from Instagram

It took me a very long time to come to the perspective I have now. Even though it was so tough, looking back I am thankful for what I had to go through because it taught me important lessons. Additionally, I now have a more positive outlook on life and am living happier and healthier. 

Don’t let yourself get pushed to the edge to the point where you explode. If you want to live a more positive life you have to deal with your emotions now and be honest with yourself about them. Once you change your perspective it will be easier to deal with the hard things that life throws at you. 

No matter what your circumstance is, it is always possible and never too late to adopt a more positive mindset. It may not be easy, but it will be worth it once you come out on the other side.

Thank you Skylar Rae, for sharing your story! Everyone reading this is invited to stay up-to-date with the author via her Medium blog and Instagram page.

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