They’re not words you hear often, are they? Restrained like dogs, let loose only to spit venom that seeps subcutaneously into your skin, every compunctious ounce of you, like wolves do. 

In our lifetime, we learn that there is more than one way to express our love for one another without saying the words, ‘I love you.’ Get home safe. Drive carefully. Be back for dinner! There are casual, coded gestures, too; the zipping-up of coats, the suggestion of a warm hat. A nod, the silent reminder that your tea is now of optimum drinking temperature. Never, though, ‘I hope you feel shit.’ Never such an unyielding campaign of emotion, so unfiltered, and lacking in mercy. Never such a direct profession of feeling, brazen in the face of convolution, and of polite, courteous conversation. Never an encouragement simply, but distinctly, just to let yourself feel. 

The world is full of happy people, except for when it’s not. Smiles and sadness coexist hand in hand, a binary star system; their gravities entwined in some unfathomable twist of fate. And, who knew? The most foundational of cosmic forces are dependent on their counterparts to attribute meaning to their existence. It is, however, a dynamic unduly built on imbalance.

One hand seems to grasp more tightly, the other’s knuckles contorted reluctantly, uncomfortably so. They have often become one and the same, because we live in a world that is oh-so-scared of being sad and of dominant, freely raging emotion.

You rise late, trapped under the force of all that is happening to you. That will happen. That already has. Instantly, you regret the hours spent under sheets, as if this were some horrific act for which you could never be forgiven. You read in the bath again. The sun is on your face; the light diffused by the mottled texture of the window pane.

Pages worn, well-loved, and laden with steam, their feel comparable to the texture of leaves in late September. It offers you a fleeting moment in which you understand your sadness. But there is always someone who will point out that her poems—like you—are self-indulgent. The book goes back on the shelf. 

I hope you feel shit. I hope you feel sad or, at the very least, guilty. Shameful, jealous - anything but ambivalent. I hope you feel these in the same way you would joy: with acceptance, and in expectation of its fleeting passing. I hope the guilt you feel is not guilt over feeling guilty. Because you are allowed.

I hope you feel shit in a way that is not movie-ready. In a way that is not a montage, made to a backing track of The Smiths, or worse; Adele. We are fascinated with romanticising emotions to the extent that they are no longer real. Pretty girls bent over toilet bowls, cigarettes in bony hands, and bleeding prose. There are pre-posed ‘before’ shots, planted tactfully so we can see that even heroes have it hard. The fall before a carefully curated happily-ever-after: portrayed only as a precursor to better things, a new life, without merit of the fall itself.

You do not have to make something from your sadness. You do not have to rise from it a better person, a more interesting guest at the party. Strong, troubled, poignant. You are allowed to hate it, to feel it or to embrace it. You are allowed to stay in bed. Emotions feed us, fuel us even, in the pursuit of growth or change. But they don’t have to. You do not have to be a tragedy just to be sad. So, God, I hope you feel shit.