you are not smarter than solange: a blog about mental health, manageability, and consumption
in our attics we all have boxes, a whole bunch of them. they sit up there undisturbed for as long as we can stand it. the boxes contain enormous trauma, unending grief, unimaginable happiness, incredible joy. they all sit there, side by side, gathering dust. you didn’t label the boxes, you didn’t have time, but you vaguely know which is which you reckon.
you’ll get fed up one day and get all the boxes down, determined to sort them out. you’ll open the first one and relive the happiness, that takes all morning. the second is a box full of pain and takes an afternoon to close again. there’s still an infinite boxes to go through, but you can’t. it’s not manageable.
you’ll forget about those boxes (but not really) and get on with stuff, you’ll go out and find lovers and friends and fill new boxes with them. good boxes, you decide. you’ll fill countless boxes with booze and half remembered memories and you’ll keep piling them up, opening the attic to chuck another one in. the potential boxes are infinite, you’ve got a whole pile flat packed downstairs and you keep filling them up, every day, your life becomes dedicated to filling enough boxes that you can pile them all up and not have to think about the rotten old ones at the very back of the attic. you consume more, fill up more.
you don’t dare glance at the piles you already have. you just want to forget them. you’ll keep those boxes secret, even from yourself.
we all have inputs and outputs and they should, ideally, match. that’s why watching sad films when you’ve been dumped feels so good, or why listening to mr blue sky on a sunny day feels so right. our brain is clever like that, it knows exactly what you need (most of the time).
so why do we keep trying to outsmart our brains. why do we pretend that we can manage to unpack every single box within a day, even though we know we can’t. why do we turn down offers from friends to help, even though we could really do with a hand. and why do we keep thinking that we can consume our way to happiness, if we could just scroll or swipe away the sadness. solange has told us that doesn’t work, do you think you’re smarter than solange?
over time you learn to open the boxes when needed, not before. sometimes you’ll remember about a box that contains exactly what you need, your brain is good like that. sometimes you’ll grab a torch and force yourself to poke your nose in a really scary one. sometimes you’ll have the contents of the really, really scary one thrown at you unexpectedly but it’s ok, you can manage it, you’ve made room. you’ll learn to manage all the boxes eventually, only ever taking down as many as you can handle, and feeling ok about putting them back, when it’s too much. you’ll stop filing the sadness hole with fake happiness and start filling it with genuine love and smiles and acceptance.
i’m not smarter than solange, and i don’t want my inputs and my outputs to misalign anymore, i don’t want to pretend to live a perfect instagram life when i don’t, and i don’t want to pretend i can open all the boxes when sometimes just one is enough. i want to own my sadness and my trauma in a way that works for me, not for it. i don’t want to be scared of the boxes at the back, but i still am and that’s ok actually. as much as i can manage is the exact right amount. we’ll get there, a box at a time.
it’s a journey, this analogy, but i hope it makes sense, and i hope you stop thinking you’re smarter than solange too.