Where do I begin?
I love this quote for so many reasons. Perhaps it's the imagery of the stars and my love for the night sky which resonated. Perhaps it's that Oscar Wilde wrote it, who also wrote incredible works like The Picture of Dorian Gray. And maybe it's all of these things together, combined with the heavy truth of it's words.
Every single person on earth is going to experience times when they feel like they are at rock bottom. This phenomenon is not exclusive to any one group of people, and those who seem to "have it all" are not immune to it either. Maybe it seems naive, but prior to this journey it did not occur to me that life could be hard for people who seemed to have it all together. I would look at those kinds of people and feel like they had some sort of secret that I wasn't being let in on. Well, it turns out the big secret I didn't know is that just because someone displays a perfect put together image on the outside, it doesn't alway mean their life is perfect on the inside.
For so long I held the belief that grief paints itself the same hue on everyone, and that sickness always looks glaringly obvious with sullen skin, hollow eyes and a sadness that is palpable. But that simply isn't true.
It wasn't until my life got turned upside down from Lyme Disease when I realized that even through the toughest moments I still had the option to seek the stars and hold a positive outlook. I could choose to be joyful despite my circumstances, and I could be hopeful despite what certain tests did or didn't say. These outcomes didn't need to be carried with me in every aspect of my life and bring me down. I could compartmentalize and take the time to be sad, or overwhelmed, or stressed, and then leave those emotions there in that box while I took a break from the 24/7 worries of fighting this illness. I could have different facets of my life, and they didn't need to rub off on one and other. My stress or sadness shouldn't spread like a virus into other parts of my soul. I could be "happy Christina," while simultaneously being "worried about my recent test results Christina," and "fighting a stomach-ache Christina," and still change out of my pajamas to enjoy a holiday. It doesn't have to consume me, and it doesn't have to consume you either.
Maybe I don't "look sick," and maybe not everyone will understand me or my situation. That's ok. I used to worry that by putting my best foot forward I was making it harder for people to understand my pain. But in all honesty I bare my soul and my worries and grief on this blog for the whole world to see 24/7. However, the joy I choose to cling to doesn't negate that. I can be happy and look happy while fighting my challenges internally. It's a conscious and personal choice deciding how much of ourselves we want to show the world. That's why the person you look at on Instagram who seems to 'have it all' can still be carrying some heavy burdens. Their secret isn't that they are perfect, but rather that they are not. They are imperfect humans just like you or I, and the truth is that they are trying to get by like everyone else.
Once I realized that I can go out into the world and look around at all the of the most joyful happy people, and they could still be fighting hardships, it changed my outlook on life. Or perhaps rather it changed my perception of how I saw my own life. Because the only person who knows how happy or "perfect" someone else's life is, is that person. No one else on earth will ever know what's going on in their mind and in their soul. You can look at 3 happy people all displaying their great lives, and one might be suicidal, the other might be dealing with a loss, and the third might really just be joyful. How will you ever know which is which? Unless they tell you, you won't. Real actual joy comes from inside of you, and it doesn't depend on what you have or don't have. Only you know what is inside your soul, and that's the only thing that matters.
We can't choose the hardships life will throw us. No one can. But the one thing in life you DO choose is your outlook. You choose if you want to live and fight, you choose if you want to keep taking steps and climbing out of the hole when you hit rock bottom. We will all have hard days where we might want to give up because the stresses of life feel all consuming. I have those days. I have days where I'm grumpy, I'm a debbie-downer, and I'm not joyful. I'm human. I let myself feel how I need to feel for a while, and then I pick myself up and keep moving forward.
Because remember: We are ALL in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. Be the someone who is looking at the stars.