You Shouldn’t Look So Happy In These Pictures


So what i'm with a donkey? What is there to be happy about?

As soon as I got back to Korea, bad news was there to greet me.  It was as though somebody was waiting for me at the airport with a sign that had my name and a big middle finger.  Without going into details, I’ll just say that ever since Monday, I’ve been super depressed.  I’ve been so bummed out I haven’t even been able to laugh when Mitt Romney talks about driving around with a dog on his roof.  This post isn’t about the bad news I alluded to earlier (although I’ll probably write about it eventually), but instead about how a person handles stress and depression.  It’ll probably come as a surprise that this post, given the subject matter, does not involve alcohol.

During times of depression, I’m a real kick-me-when-I’m-down type of guy.  If I’m going to feel sad, I prefer to spiral downwards until it doesn’t seem like life is worth living anymore.  I’m rarely satisfied with only a mild sense of disappointment, nor am I satisfied with the idea that only one aspect of life isn’t going well.  When one thing goes wrong, everything needs to seem like it’s going wrong.  Dealing with my life, at times, is like being the General Manager of the Buffalo Bills.  What area of weakness should be addressed?  Quarterback?  Defense?  O line?  Who can say – they’re all in shambles.

And also, stupid little things must signify a greater sense of failure and imply that the world is somehow out to get me.  For instance, yesterday I went to the store wanting to buy moisturizer.  I thought I did, but later – to my horror – realized that I had bought shampoo for people with dry hair.

I was devastated.

“Don’t slit your wrists,” C-Batz said after I ranted to her about it.  “I don’t want to find you in a pool of blood and highly moisturizing shampoo.”

Everything was going wrong.  I checked my email and saw that I’d finally heard back in regards to a fiction story I sent off awhile ago.  It was, of course, rejected.  That came as no surprise, not because the story wasn’t good, but because of the timing.  Say I’d heard back from the editor in early January, I would’ve been surprised to hear the story was rejected.  But now, it made perfect sense that it was.  I could imagine the editor and his crony discussing it:

“Hey, we’ve had this one kicking around for awhile, Mr. Editor.  Are you thinking of accepting it?”

“Oh no no no.  Don’t be ridiculous.  It’s just that I’d like to really kick this guy in the nuts, and now doesn’t seem like the right time.  I’m going to wait until I can sense that things are collapsing all around him, and then send the rejection email.”

“You know what would really get him?  In addition to rejecting him, accept a bunch of crap that’s obviously inferior.”

“I like the way you think, kid.”

Perhaps that comes off a little bitter.  For the rest of the day I couldn’t even function.  Teaching was painful and exhausting.  I was relieved when the last student left.  After school I slumped back to my apartment and didn’t have the motivation to do anything.  Watching a movie seemed like a lot of work.  Making myself feel worse seemed to be the only thing that was driving me to do anything, so I did what was logical and pulled up Facebook.

Months ago, in the aftermath of my nightmare pseudo-relationship-friends-with-benefits-from-hell, I sent the girl a hate message (I like to handle things maturely) and then deleted her off Facebook (again, maturity).  In addition, I blocked all her friends so I wouldn’t have to see pictures of her (maturity hat trick).  Well, since I felt like crap anyways, it seemed like a good time to pull up those friends and do a little Facebook stalkin’!  Into their photo albums I went, looking at pics of the pseudo-ex having all sorts of fun.  She looked beautiful and full of life and it reminded me of how I saw her before everything went so wrong.

“She looks happy,” I thought.  “This is awful.”

Seeing her all gorgeous and smiling made me even more miserable.  Then a thought occurred to me: they’re pictures.  Of course she looks happy.  Everyone looks happy in pictures.  What did I expect?  Did I expect her to look all teary eyed and filled with regret?  Did I expect her to be wearing an ‘I Miss Bill’ t-shirt, or standing on a bridge, ready to jump?  I told myself that I couldn’t know for sure if she’s actually super happy unless I saw her in real life.  She had to be smiling for the camera, I thought, and not smiling for the heck of it.

It dawned on me that, theoretically, she could look at pictures of me on Facebook and have the misconception that I’m really happy.  I looked at my own pics and, in them, found the happiest little boy on the planet.

“What a ruse,” I thought.  “I need to stop looking so happy in these pictures.  I should look how I feel.  Next time someone takes a picture of me, I’m going to look contemplatively off into the distance as if the great questions of the universe have weighed me down with exhaustion.”

Profile pic!!!

You know that famous picture of the woman in the Great Depression?  My profile pic should look like that.  Maybe I could hold a desperate child for greater emphasis.

Even at times like this, I have a voice of reason that kicks in.  “You should be happy for her,” it said.  “Instead of being selfish and hoping she misses you, you should be happy that she’s living her life and having fun.  You cared about her a lot and, honestly,  you still do.  Stop being a douche and be happy for her.”

That was a nice thing to think.  After I thought it, my mind went back to my own pictures.  “And why can’t you be happy for yourself?” it continued.  “These pictures aren’t a ruse – you really were happy when they were taken.  Life isn’t so bad, my brother.  Stop beating yourself up so much.”

At some point in our lives, we all learn about something called Murphy’s Law.  It famously says that whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.  Who was this Murphy character?  What a downer that guy must’ve been.  I wonder if he had any friends, or if people avoided him like the plague.  “Hey, don’t invite Murphy to the party,” they would say.  “He’ll bitch all night and ruin everything.”  The other guy would scratch his chin and go, “Yeah, it’s self-fulfilling prophecy.  He really brings his law down on himself.”  And then the night of the party, Murphy would stand outside in the cold, by himself, trying to get a peep through the window at what was happening inside.

I wonder if he’d feel pleased.



47 thoughts on “You Shouldn’t Look So Happy In These Pictures

  1. After a week of frolic and debauchery in the Philippines ( oh, erase debauchery…. change it to fun , he he he )… why are you suddenly depressed ? The mood change is so sudden.

    And be happy that your ex is happy too. * NOT *… I know, you want her to be miserable and missing you. I understand. I’d think that way too. I’m not a martyr.

    Anyways, here’s waiting for your adventure in the Philippines ( but be nice )

    • Hi Renx!

      I would say there was a little debauchery…not much. Haha. Can’t go into depression right now…nothing that serious though. I’m not dying or anything.

      Being a martyr must seriously blow. What are the perks? You have to die and take a lot of crap from people. And I don’t find the word ‘martyr’ very pleasing to say. The ‘r-t-y-r’ end seems clumsy to me. I don’t know what I’m talking about.

      Of course I’ll be nice to the Philippines! You’re beautiful people as long as you’re not driving a cab. : )

      • Oh, my goodness ! Well, you better work on that visa prolem PRONTO ! ! The guys there are so quick to kick out foreigners. Or so I heard. I know of one who just left. Not because of any problem with work ….. * whisper * they check out the blogs, no kidding, and if you say anything not so nice ….. crickets………….. Just sayin’.

      • I honestly don’t think anyone at my prior school had good enough English skills to be able to read and comprehend my (or any other) blog. At my current school, the only one who can is Leah, and I don’t think she’s give a crap. It’s a good safety net when your employer can’t read the stuff you’re writing (although I suppose they could use the translate thing…)

        Fingers crossed about the visa. Who knows – a month from now I could be writing from Kazakhstan!

  2. Bill!! I’m sorry! 😦 But please don’t give up on publishing a book! You promised me! And by the way, Dr. Seuss got rejected 27 times before he published his first book. Some people are just stupid and don’t recognize creativity. And unfortunately no matter what people tell you it still sucks to get rejected. I hope things get better! 🙂 Keep writing!

    • Hi Rachel! Hope you’re doing well back in the States. Nah, it was just a short story getting rejected – has happened a thousand times before and will happen a thousand more times. No biggie!

      Perhaps I need to start writing more than one short story…

      Anyways, good to hear from you! : )

    • Ok, twist my arm! Let’s get girlfriends this weekend. I have no plans. Preferably we get girlfriends Friday so I’ll have something to do the rest of the weekend (i.e. hang out with girlfriend).

  3. Highs and lows, they’re a part of our lives. Life has a strange way of working doesn’t it? Sometimes bringing us up just to knock us down. But oddly enough, we’ll find ourselves climbing up again. I guess we’re a persistent species. My advice to you is (Which I’m sure you’re not even looking for, plus, I’m only teenager. What do I know? But still.): Don’t dwell. It’s normal to be upset, but don’t let things suck the life and awesomeness within you! I know whenever I feel lame, I try to go out and do something nice for someone else because it brings out my inner awesome. (How vain am I? haha)

      • Hmm, do something nice for someone else. That’s a decent idea. That never crossed my mind. Ok, maybe I’ll try that. Nice advice. I need to talk to teenagers more often!

        Haha – yeah, that picture was from the Ice Fishing Festival. I thought it was going to be freezing, but it turned out to be a pretty nice, warm day. That jacket sucks by the way – broken zipper. Screw you, Plus Mountain. : – P

  4. as some saying goes if you think your day was bad don’t worry there’s another one coming tomorrow (joke, sorry i couldn’t help it) -hugs-
    smile a little, it’s not all bad you know. everyone has down times. we all feel like a wreck at some point but that doesn’t mean it won’t get better, it just shows how tough you are once you get past this.
    i don’t know what you’re going through but i read and felt how you write, don’t need pictures to see that you were genuinely happy so don’t ever think you were faking it. relax and rest a little it’ll work out.
    “i’ve been waiting the whole week for your misadventures in the phils and this is all i’ve got? shame on you william panara! get your ass up and stop sulking!” (sorry this is the best pep talk i can come up with) -hugs tighter- get better soon ‘kay?

    • Hi Isabella! That’s such a sweet comment. I don’t want to go too much into it, but there turns out to be a problem with my work visa and I might have to leave Korea soon…so I’ve been bummed and freaking out a little ’cause I’m not sure of what I’m going to do. Then again, I might just be overreacting and everything will be fine. Who knows? Fingers crossed.

      Haha – yeah, I suppose I should write more about the Philippines. It was a good trip and I’d love to go back…forever. Hugs right back! : )

  5. E.

    we all deserve to be depressed once in a while, especially those with good sense of humour like you. if you have to carry on like this for a little while, carry on. how worse can it be? the bad effect will wear off, sooner or later. we will still be here waiting to read your writings, unlike that editor. January was terrible for me, but hey, it’s February now, and i’m quite myself again. hope you will be yourself soon. : )

  6. Boy ask me about being depressed…
    I worked my Butt off on a little illustration and later I found out the file got corrupted *cannot be recovered* and now I am shedding tears over the loss.

    ahh well I hope you are feeling better now..

    • Aww, sorry to hear that, Myth! Love your illustrations! Get back at it and post more. : D

      Feeling better…yeah, a bit. Still a sense of impending doom – you would think I’d be used to that by now. Always a pleasure hearing from you. Hope you’re well. : )

  7. “She looks happy,” I thought. “This is awful.”

    That, among many other things you wrote, made me LLOL. (Literally Laugh Out Loud. Feel free to use it.)

    • LLOLL – Literally Laugh Out Loud Literally. Feel free not to use it ever.

      Haha – Glad you could relate to (or at least be amused by) that little bit of bitterness. Keep on keeping on, brother John.

  8. What? I’m good at whining. It’s why I started writing in the first place. ; )

    It takes skill to entertain your readers even when you’re feeling down.
    You won’t really know if your ex is down-in-the-gut happy. Facebook is sometimes just a projection of how happy we want to be not a direct reflection of reality. So who knows? Maybe she’s going through the same thing as you do. Some comedian once said that depression is merely anger without enthusiasm. I find that true for me sometimes.

    Maybe that donkey was Eeyore and his depression rubbed off on you. lol

    Everything that can go wrong, will go wrong. But nothing lasts forever so it’ll pass. 😀

    I’m not gonna tell you to cheer up. I don’t know how to cheer up when I’m depressed. So here’s a hug for you instead >:)<

    • Thanks for the hug Jishi!

      You’re right about Facebook. Although I have a lot of fb friends who post one miserable status update after the next. I suppose maybe they’re trying to reach out to someone…maybe I should ‘like’ their statuses more to brighten their day. As long as I don’t have to talk to them, I’ll do anything to cheer a person up.

      Anyways, now that we’re fb friends, I promise you that what I said above doesn’t apply. I will only ‘like’ your statuses if I actually do read and like them. I’ll keep it real, Jishi! haha I dunno…I need to go back to sleep I think. : P

      • Yes. There are those miserable sort that loves to damp the spirit of everyboy else’s. I only reply on those statuses if I’m really close to the person. Otherwise, asking what’s wrong may come off as prying.

        Good luck on that. I post statuses in Tagalog as much as I do in English. lol

    • You down with GOP? Yeah you know me!!

      I love the Republicans. I hope they win, for entertainment value. Eventually I want to vote Republican one time, just to say I did it. At a party people will be talking about crazy shit they did, like “I went sky diving” or “I went over Niagara Falls in a barrel” and I’ll be like, “Oh yeah…I voted for Next motherfucking Gingrich.” Game. Set. Match.

    • Hi Estrella! That was kind of cool, because I saw the comment and thought, “Oh, new person.” And then I kind of squinted at the pic and thought, “Wait, is this Estrella I know?” Yes! It is! Hope everything has been going well with you back home; now I’m following your blog so I suppose I’ll get updated.

      Later girl! : D

      • Home has been…okay I guess. Believe it or not do miss my life in South Korea sometimes! I am working towards moving to Spain next fall (hopefully). And yes I have a blog but it’s not nearly as interesting or well written as yours!

        Later Bill 🙂

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