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Ellis | Smile And You'll Trick Your Brain Into Thinking You're Happy

If you know me, you know I am incredibly tight-lipped about my personal life. I don’t tell anyone anything, mainly because, with me, it probably won’t stick. My romantic interests are fleeting at best and nonexistent most of the time. That’s why it shocked everyone when my debut single was about love, and, more specifically, heartbreak.

Up until now, I’ve brushed off the inquiries. It’s difficult to open up and tell people about a vulnerability you have. Will they understand? Will they dismiss it? What will they do with the information? But in order to make something that touches people and brings them together, oftentimes you have to be willing to take a pen to your veins and spill (metaphorically speaking).

Okay (In the Morning) doesn’t necessarily sound like a song about my own flaws. I start off chastising someone for their selfish behaviour and blaming them for being the downfall of the relationship. But the truth is (and now you’re in my secret-keepers secret club), it’s me I’m yelling at. When it comes to money, personal belongings, and time, I am as selfless as they come. But when it comes to my life? I always do what I want. Always. If I want to move, I move. If I want to drive around the country and sleep in my car, I pack a suitcase. If I want to quit a stable job to pursue music, get ready for my two-week’s notice. I don’t even think to consider anyone else’s feelings when I do these things. I just do them.

As you can probably guess, this kind of mentality isn’t really conducive to a healthy relationship. Most of the time, this is just fine by me. If I’m not willing to sacrifice parts of my life, then I have no business stringing someone else along behind me while I put my interests ahead of theirs. It’s only fair. And fairness always wins with me.

Well, most of the time.

There was one time I quickly grew to regret my own selfish behaviour. I (purposefully) drove away someone who could have really, I don’t know, “fit.” He made me laugh, challenged me, blah, blah, blah. But worst of all, he seemed willing to follow my lead. And when you’ve spent your entire life convincing yourself that it’s more humane to let people go than to allow them to sacrifice pieces of themselves for you, that’s a terrifying proposition. Especially when you actually really like them.

So I pushed and I pushed, and finally I pushed hard enough. He went away. He didn’t want me anymore. Problem solved. Until I missed him. Until I couldn’t stop thinking about him. So I tried to go back and pretend like nothing had happened, to restore our relationship to where it had been. But I had done too good a job driving him away and too poor a job apologising (I didn’t), and my meager attempt at reconciliation got me no further than polite civility.

The rest of Okay (In the Morning) is a case-study in how I deal with my emotions: I pretend they’re different until they are. That might mean acting confident when I’m not or saying there’s nothing to be afraid of when I’m screaming on the inside.

Here, that means telling myself I’m fine and pretending I’ll just forget this hurt and this person by morning. And the funny thing is, this technique actually works. It’s that whole “smile and you’ll trick your brain into thinking you’re happy” thing. Tell yourself you’re okay enough times, and you will be. And you won’t even notice the change until it happens.

So in that sense, Okay (In the Morning), is just as much about hope as it is about heartbreak. I’m singing my pain, but the words are saying I’m okay because I know that one day I’ll wake up and I will be. We all will be.

Now, don’t think my ability to move on means I didn’t (try to) learn something from the situation. I still think I’m mostly right to believe it’s not fair to ask someone else to always be the one to compromise just because I’m unwilling to. But now I ask myself if it’s fair to make that decision for them. It’s hard to think that simply being with me might be enough. And if that’s what they’re telling me they want, maybe I should just believe them. Maybe.


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