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Living in the Pursuit of Sadness

Written by Emma Fabros

People are used to the idea of pursuing happiness. In fact, this country was built with that sentiment in mind. College students spend their young adulthood looking for something that will bring them a holistic sense of joyful purpose… or so they did. Now, more and more are finding comfort and identity  in their embracing sadness. Society is beginning to spiral into an obsession with the community that comes with being sad. 

It is normal for individuals to listen to deep and dark music or engage with social media accounts that produce emotional and vulnerable content. It is fair to say that not everyone who participates in these things is depressed or full of angst. Rather, these social-cultural tendencies are feeding off the fact that every individual feels sadness at some point because it is a natural human emotion.

Rola Jadayel, a professor of sciences at the University of Balamand, said “more and more teenagers are convinced that depression, anxiety, anorexia, and bipolarity are ‘cool’ or can make you ‘special,”. People are openly sharing their stories with hopes of feeling validated or perhaps a part of something bigger than themselves. 

“Being sad and depressed is no longer considered shameful or bad, but instead it is kind of considered in vogue because you are a little more in touch with yourself- you’re more aware,” expressed Chris Grace, a psychology professor at Biola University. 

Those who are more connected with their feelings and emotions tend to portray more depth and wisdom as a human being. 

  Many individuals are eager to connect and bond with others on a deeper level. When someone does share their feelings of sadness or depression, they often feel listened to and cared for. To put it bluntly, Grace shares that one might believe they will be rewarded by “attention, interest, and care.” People in today’s society may hope to find connection and attention as a result of sharing sharing their struggles. 

Could it be that people might be fishing for community and connection instead of happiness? More and more people are establishing a relatable online presence in their sadness. Social media provides a space for people to speak out and vent about their inner thoughts and feelings. It is a way for people to feel listened to and understood.

Alyssa Raffa, a nursing major at Biola University, thinks that people may choose to share their darker feelings online as a way “to make it more okay to be vulnerable and real, so that other people can relate.” Many are using media as a way to gravitate towards others also seeking rawness and authenticity. 

Society is embracing the notion that sadness brings people together. It does not hide or sugar-coat the hard times in life; rather, it tells people it is okay to share the darkest parts of themselves. People long for happiness and often will sacrifice many things to get there. However, society has reached a point where people long for connection and relationships more than they long for joy. They tell of their sadness in order to find their wholeness in others.


Photo by Julianne Foster

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