This post was inspired by a couple of friends and a holiday that is important to my family- Diwali. I wanted to use the concept that this holiday celebrates to talk about something I, and many of my loved ones, have realized recently- why it’s so important to talk to other people about the negative things that go on in your life. I wanted to shed some light on why I think these things are part of the things that make your voice so significant- why you need to be heard, and why other should listen to you. These are the things that make you glow- they are how you share your light with the world.
In the Hindu religion, the holiday of Diwali celebrates light conquering dark, or good defeating evil. That’s the reason why Hindus all over the world celebrate by lighting up their homes, praying, and welcoming God into their homes. Although I haven’t been to India during Diwali since I was very little, my parents always talk about how beautiful and warm the atmosphere is during the time of Diwali- ten days are spent in prayer and in celebration. Gifts are given, parties are held- you could think of the festivities the equivalent to Christmas festivities in other countries.
For most of my life, I didn’t really think about what it meant for good to defeat evil, or light to conquer the dark. The concept seemed so clear cut to me- what was there to think about? But then I started thinking a little more about what exactly “good” and “evil” look like in reality- had there ever been a moment in my life when everything just seemed to be perfect? I also tried to remember the last time when literally everything in my life had seemed completely imperfect. As I thought about both of those times, I realized that there had never been a point in my life when either of those conditions had been true. There was always somethings that were good, and some things that were bad. There was always a reason to be stressed, but there was also always a reason to be joyful. But regardless of this, there has never been a moment in my life when I’ve asked someone “hey, how are you doing?” and I’ve expected them to respond “I’ve been doing badly, and I feel like my world is falling apart”. Along the same lines, I don’t think that such a response has ever been expected from me either.
For some reason, on a daily basis- not just during Diwali- we try to focus on what is good in our lives, and we also want to do the same when thinking about the lives of others- especially the people we love. We want to know that they are okay, and they are happy. That’s why it’s so paradoxical that we are more expectant of a dishonest answer than a truthful one- it’s like we want to know that they are okay, but we don’t want to know that they aren’t okay. Because of this instinctual expectation that we place on others and others place on us, it’s fair that so many people are uncomfortable talking about themselves and sharing when they are not okay.
But that allows us to go into another question- how can we celebrate the conquering of good over evil if we don’t even acknowledge our own demons, or allowing other people to acknowledge their own demons? It’s like we are celebrating everything that’s good but refusing to acknowledge the things that are bad. But hiding our demons in our minds doesn’t allow us to get rid of them. They are still there, and there is no closure.
I’ll share a quick story- a little while ago, I was talking to a close friend of mine about trouble I was having in a certain friendship. I had been hurt, and for one reason or another, it sent me into a downward spiral for a while. I’ve never been good at keeping things to myself- especially not my feelings- but I realized that the more I talked about my feelings with other people, the more tired I got of talking about them. It’s not like other people could do anything but listen, and I was talking about it with everyone else besides the person that hurt me. I didn’t want that person to know I was mad, or hurt. I didn’t want to argue with them or get further into a fight. More than anything, I didn’t want to lose, and I didn’t want to look weak.
But the more I distanced myself from this person, the more I realized that I had gotten weaker. I went about with my life telling people I was okay and everything was fine, and I put pressure on myself to look like I was okay and everything was fine. The more this happened, the closer I got to my breaking point.
How can we celebrate light conquering dark if we continue to simply ignore the dark? If we don’t let darkness into the light, it can’t be eliminated.
When I was in my freshman year of college, I had to go and see a counselor a couple of times due to some very stressful things that were happening in my life. Maybe it was because I knew that my information was going to be kept private, but it didn’t take me long to notice that talking about the bad parts of my life helped me realize how to fix them, how to move on from them and how to become a better person. I think that it was during that moment of realization that I decided to start talking about everything. The good and the bad things that happened to me. It was at that point that I started living myself the most authentically, and I started feeling like I had actually defeated my demons.
Since then, I’ve realized something even better about sharing the whole truth: the more you share your story, the more open people are to sharing their stories. The more you share, the more you learn about yourself; the more you listen to what others have learned, the more you grow. I guess that it can work the other way around, too. The point is, it isn’t ever shameful to be in the dark sometimes- we all are there now and again. It takes guts to talk about the most tragic, uncomfortable or disappointing events we might go through in life. Ultimately, though, our darkest stories add to who we are.
Far too often, we forget that the reasons why we celebrate holiday’s light conquering dark, or good defeating evil is because it is only after facing evil that we truly can appreciate what is good. Facing darkness is the very reason why we celebrate light. It is because we face the darkness that we are able to have stories and struggles that are worth sharing.
It is because of darkness that light glows.