Friday, January 22, 2016

The Melancholy of the Happy

I am probably one of the happiest people in the world, but even I feel melancholy every once in a while.  While I'm lucky enough that these feelings are both rare and invariably transitory, I'm struck by the fact that I feel like I shouldn't write about them.

It's not because I'm afraid that revealing that I'm not always happy will negatively impact my image or be bad for "the brand" (since everyone in Silicon Valley is contractually required to have a specific personal brand!).  Rather, it's the sense that I shouldn't voice my feelings when I have so little to complain about.

The irony, of course, is that I've written about the need to have compassion for the fortunate:
"I find this lack of compassion appalling. The thinking seems to be that we need to compete on our miseries, and that ultimately, we must all defer to a starving genocide victim somewhere in Sub-Saharan Africa. I don’t believe that compassion is a zero-sum game.
Having problems, even first-world problems, is emotionally draining. Having difficult choices, even if all the options are enviable, is still difficult."
Yet somehow, when it comes to showing compassion to myself, my brain decided to take a holiday!  I also advise many entrepreneurs to reach out for help, and not to struggle alone.  In our glossy Facebook-driven world, it's easy to believe that everyone is happy.

It's funny how we often fail to take our own advice!

So if you are both happy and fortunate, consider this post your permission to feel a little down from time to time, and to talk about it.  You'd be surprised how many people will be relieved to discover that you're human after all.

P.S. I'm not actually sure whether I was melancholic, or just had gone too long without writing a blog post.  Writing this one certainly made me perk up!


Anonymous said...

Totally agreed.

Peter T. HBS '07 said...

Like all bloggers, eventually the motivation to blog wanes. New posts often include the word "sorry for not updating my blog" followed by blog abandonment.