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The Daily Vulnerable by Chude Jideonwo: The Fear of Sadness



When I posted on social media in December about feeling sad and barely avoiding the pit of depression, I was struck by how many people reached me, in somewhat of a panic.

“What happened?” “Why?”


Why, I a human being, is sad? I would think that would be obvious – sadness is part of the vista of human experience. Without being sad, we can’t know how to be happy. Sadness well handled (the bible’s Apostle Paul asks Christians to mourn, but not to mourn like those who have no hope) broadens, deepens, marinates, extends.

Joy is not the absence of negative emotion. Joy is the conscious ownership and expression of negative emotion so that you live a life of peace, of balance, and of flourish. Joy comes when you’re neither afraid nor apprehensive of any experience common to man, welcoming it as an opportunity.

Or is it the worry that one would admit being sad, in an air-brushed, filtered state of global consciousness? Very likely. In which case, it’s time enough of us began to puncture that bubble of falseness, and begin to remind everyone to be bold enough to be their truth, to speak their truth, and to walk their journeys, whatever life throws their way.

To be afraid of sadness, or indeed of any human emotion or expression – including pain, or desire, or loss – is to be imprisoned by it, is to be bullied by it, is to be sidelined and distracted and confused by it.

To flourish, you have to accept whatever life throws at you, and then consciously, mindfully, yes joyfully, engage with it, transforming it from what it appears to whatever it actually can become – an ally.

Jideonwo is a storyteller, using the research and evidence on human flourishing to inspire new narratives about politics, markets, faith, identity and society in Africa. He is a co-founder of RED, which he ran for 13 years before stepping down in December 2017. One of its companies, StateCraft Inc. handled communication for the Muhammadu Buhari campaign in 2015 and has worked in elections in Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

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