“It’s OK to be sad.”

September 4, 2014

Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, Spring 2014

When we moved to New York City back in March, there were so many new and exciting things to look forward to: our apartment, new restaurants, walks in Central Park, new jobs, meeting new people, exploring New York City. We were so excited to experience life in NYC and try something different. There were also many unknowns and so much uncertainty that accompanied our move from rural New England to bustling NYC. I want to share some thoughts on the not-so-thrilling part of our quick decision to move and completely change our lives in a very short period of time…

After a few weeks in the city, I caught myself obsessing and worrying about everything. What if I can’t find a job? Are we paying too much for rent? Is Bruiser OK living in a new space? Where will people sit when they come to visit (we don’t have a couch!)? Will we make friends? Was it the wrong decision to move? Most of the time, though, I was fine and happy and excited about this time in our lives; I was myself.  Other days, I woke up in the morning in a weird mood and couldn’t shake it off for the entire day. A whole day in our new city–wasted. I felt guilty for feeling that way because we had moved to this amazing city–which was something I really wanted for us–and I had an amazing husband, supportive and loving family, great apartment, and a growing network of people to help me move forward with my career. But there were days when I felt insecure about our future and where we were in life. I was overwhelmed and frustrated.

One afternoon, while hanging out in Central Park, my cousin Katie, who was in the city for work, said to me, “It’s OK to be sad.” I wasn’t sharing many details about why I felt down, but I know Katie could sense my apprehension. We talked about how life can throw you curve balls; one minute you’re on a high, and by the next minute, you feel like everything is out-of-place and just wrong.

Initially, I didn’t think much about Katie’s comment. But later that day and over the following days, her comment kept coming back to me. “It’s OK to be sad.” It’s such a simple but powerful statement to say to someone who is dealing with something–anything–no matter how big or small that thing might be. We can be so hard on ourselves. It’s important to give yourself permission to be sad. It’s OK to let yourself feel the feelings. There is so much we learn about ourselves during times of insecurity, sadness, failure and those things are important to understand. I think those times of pain and suffering help us. You need the lows to truly appreciate the highs.

For me, there are times when I am so focused on trying everything possible to get myself to not feel sad or guilty or whatever that I totally skip over the part when I listen to my feelings and reflect on them. Why am I sad? How did I get here? These are the questions I should give myself time to think about. Instead, I think: Snap out of it–I’m being ungrateful! What’s wrong with me?

But if I strive to constantly be in a state of happiness–just a flat line–how can I truly appreciate life? How do I differentiate between the good times, great times, bad times, and every time in between? We’re all capable of feeling this huge range of feelings. If we miss out on the majority of our feelings because we’ve picked one feeling and put it on a pedestal and declared it as THE one we want ALL OF THE TIME then we become this annoyingly edited version of our true selves.

Whatever your situation is, reflect on it and don’t rush through that time of reflection; don’t rush the process–trust it. Everyone is different, and everyone takes different amounts of time to work through their issues and emotions. Give yourself permission to feel whatever you’re feeling whether it’s sad, angry, lonely, confused, unsure. And try your best not to let guilt creep in. I know–way easier said than done, right? Maybe a better way of thinking about it is: try your best to be conscience of guilt creeping in. This is something I struggle with. The thing is, guilt adds this whole other element to the scenario and ends up taking away from your time of reflection and learning and growth.

One last note: As I remember that afternoon in the park with my cousin, I can’t help but think that Katie must have gone through a similar time in her life, a time when she was feeling down and unsure and overwhelmed. If she hadn’t gone through something similar, how would she have known to say to me, “It’s OK to be sad.”? If anything, maybe we go through these rough times in our own lives to then turn around and help others get through their own hardships. To honestly and openly identify with and share the feelings of others. Empathy.

What about you? Have you experienced these waves of anxiety and insecurity accompanied with an exciting/major life change? Have you been able to offer words of comfort to someone else experiencing a hardship? I’d love to hear your thoughts. xo

(Dan took this picture of me last spring at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens.)



  • Bette macdonald

    Kelley, this post is so true. It is beautifully written and so meaningful. Yes we all have been there, and I wonder how many of us have any idea what it all means. Your other posts are so interesting. I look forward to them. Love you both, Gram

  • Cara Dyke

    This is such a touching post, it literally brought tears to my eyes. Your cousin is right, it’s okay to be sad. Thanks for sharing.

    • Kelley

      I’m so glad you enjoyed reading this post, Cara. And thank you for commenting 🙂 Hope you’re have a wonderful fall in NE. All the foliage pics are amazing! xx

  • The City and Us:On Setting Goals - The City and Us

    […] “It’s OK to be sad.” because sometimes the journey can be […]

  • sandy

    this post found me-I just returned from a long walk with my puppy, after stopping a few times to sob and catch my breath. I lost my son 11 months ago, and have been struggling with still feeling so sad, and trying to figure this journey out. I needed to hear-its ok to be sad.
    Its ok.
    I watch normal lives passing right by me-people carrying on while I am suspended and stuck. Quick sand. cement, whatever this is that keeps me feeling heavy.
    I will feel different eventually, my soul realizes this, but I found great solace
    in knowing…”its ok to be sad”

    • Kelley

      Sandy, I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. I’m glad you found some comfort in reading this piece, and I hope long walks, your puppy, and the feeling of knowing you’re not alone will help you along this journey of healing. xoxo

  • Katie

    You are absolutely right. I have felt down and unsure and overwhelmed, as well as depressed. You have elegantly expressed a journey that I also had to travel to embrace the emotions I was feeling and not berate myself or feel guilty!

  • The City and Us:Liebster Award - The City and Us

    […] England to bustling NYC. It was time for something new and different, and it’s been a crazy, scary, wonderful ride that I’d do all over […]

  • Molly Bridget

    100 percent agree on this! In the same way we should soak up the happy moments, we should do the same with those sad times. By doing so, we discover what brought us there and how we can refocus on our energies on the things that give us joy.

    I love the final note in the piece regarding the ability to empathize with others. I like to say that when things don’t go my way, that very well could mean someone else’s way was more important than I and my many expectations and plans.


    • Kelley

      What a nice way to think about things when they don’t go your way. I like that! Thanks for sharing, Molly.

Leave a Comment

Blogmilk | Brandi Bernoskie