How To Feel Okay

Over the past few days and months people have come up to me to ask me the same question: How do you feel okay all the time? The question came from people who knew me from when I was a crazy teenager, to when I was figuring myself out, to someone who just knew me and got to spend two weeks in a room with me, to random internet people, and…my own mother.

Sometimes when the question is asked to me in my face I just shrugged and say “I just don’t feel anything about it”, but usually when it’s asked in an email or chat I will explain. This week however I had been busier than usual that when I received two questions from two different people about the same topic, I figured I should sit down and write about it. I hope that more people would be able to benefit from my peacefulness (because my name is after all Salamah).

Feelings are intangible and with my known-wild imagination, I tend to think of them as things we store in a glass bottle that is sealed with a cork. Sometimes you throw the bottle into the sea, thinking you’ve forgotten about it, then it returns back to shore ten years later. The shore is you. The bottle that returned are feelings you denied. You are now the littered beach all over again.

But why are we so ashamed to admit about how we feel that we constantly want to deny them? 

It’s because everyone else is also bottling up their feelings. We think it only exists in us. It doesn’t. We think nobody else understands (I’m not telling you to tell everyone your problems either). But I want you to remember: What you feel is only human experience. Handle it healthily and your whole life will follow.

I don’t know the numbers and details on this, but perhaps theoretically or your own logic, you’d think that emotional, mental, and spiritual health are separate from physical health. A clinically anxious friend told me his doctors linked his bodily illness to stress, he couldn’t grasp why. “I don’t believe how I feel affects my body,” he said. I don’t like to explain much. I figured the answers are all in you, and sometimes you need to sit down and figure things out yourself. No need to be spoon fed; we’re not babies!

But if you don’t know where to start to think, …well now let me start with a disclaimer: I thought that everybody knew how to think. That I didn’t need to tell you or give you examples, that I could have been as vague as possible and everybody would’ve gotten what I meant. I have sincere thoughts and beliefs that everybody is equipped with their own thinking mechanisms. …and then I get asked the to-me silliest of questions about the things right before their very eyes. I realised it is selfish of me to think that everyone knows. You don’t even necessarily know who your neighbour is or what the chemical equation for water is. Then I told myself to be patient, and slowly, and kindly, explain. I still believe everyone knows, but it’s because they’ve been brought up being spoon fed that they think they don’t know. I’m the new parent that is teaching the adult baby how to hold the spoon himself.

So tell me why is it that when you feel nervous, our stomachs feel like they’re twisted and our knees literally shake? Why is it when you’re upset your chest feels heavy and you feel a lump in your throat? Going in layman’s terms, it’s because everything about our bodies, our lives; how we feel, is linked. 

Why am I talking about this first? Because first I want you to know that when you allow yourself to be flooded with unwanted emotions, you will feel a toll on your health. You’ll start losing sleep, and when you start losing sleep you’ll eat less (or more), when you do these it will affect your daily life, your interaction with other people, and you’ll start seeing life from a darker point of view.

Everything that happens to us, everyone that we meet, is meant to teach us something to help us grow. The keyword here is GROW. A few days ago someone told me she was afraid how she is comfortable right now, things might change again.

That’s the difference between your thoughts and my thoughts, why I seem calm and comfortable while you don’t know how to handle the thoughts. It’s because I am not afraid of growth. I am not afraid of change. In fact, I am afraid of the idea of stability because that would mean I’m in the comfort zone. To me, it is dangerous to stay there because once I get too comfortable, I will reject anything new. Once I get too comfortable, I will reject anything that might risk me from sleeping in my fluffy pillow.

I’ve heard people say “I never asked for this.” I will straight-out point out that I think that’s a stupid, ignorant thing to say. Guess what? Nobody’s asked for misery. Two people could be facing the same thing but living it differently because of how they handle it. And I hope you handle it well. Yes, I know how you feel. I used to spend nights crying over how I never asked to be born, how I will never be good enough, et cetera. I was actually afraid of what’s going to come, so I told myself beforehand I won’t be able to go through it. I don’t want to move, so I told myself that it’s all unfair for me. I then snapped myself out of those thoughts. It takes time, practice, and self-discipline, of course.

Here’s what I want you to remember: that anything new = a learning experience.

I believe it is arrogant to think I’m okay just the way I am. Everyday I will continuously meet people who will teach me something new. Each rejection a chance to learn something about myself and other people. “That’s okay, at least I learn something new,” I tell myself when something unfavourable happens to me.

But that doesn’t mean I’m 100% calm all the time. If you hung out with me often you’ll find that I have feelings too. I don’t bottle them up. And that’s why my feelings aren’t as intensive as yours. I have nothing to win and nothing to lose anyway.

Using back my wild imagination. While your feelings are stored in bottles, waiting for it to someday overflow or return back to shore to you, my feelings flow down a river. I’d like to see myself as a vessel in which water flow through, just pass by, to get to its destination. Like a river that flows, she doesn’t choose what flows in her and who drinks from her. She just flows. Sediments may be deposited and alter her, but she continues flowing anyway. The salmon that swam in her, the elephant that drank from her, are just part of what’s already meant to happen. She just is, and I just am.

People always ask me, “How do I stop these feelings?” and “I feel like crying but I don’t want to”, and “I need to man up.” I don’t believe in denying your feelings. Tell yourself that it is only human to have these feelings. Cry if you want to. Eat all those chocolate if you want to. But after that, ask yourself: What can I learn from this?

List them down. Be rational with yourself. If your emotions are off the balance, use logic instead to pull it back to the fulcrum. You might notice I don’t talk about “your heart” because that’s another topic, more profound, abstract, esoteric to comprehend.

Now, you train yourself to ask yourself, “What can I learn from this?” “Where can I go from here?”. Do it at every road block. Continue walking. There is always a way. You may rest but Do Not Stop. It only seems never-ending because you’re going in circles.

Keep walking ahead.


P.S. Nan, aku mesej kau buat bodoh eh. Aku harap kau baca ni, dan aku harap kau ok.

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