Don’t Worry, Be Happy

29 October 2020

(content warning for death and mental illness)

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

It’s 1999 and I’m seven years old. Memories of my childhood are sparse but, I remember this: I had a watch with a pinkish-red band made of the kind of semi-transparent plastic of jelly sandals, popular at the time. Printed around the face of this watch was the phrase, ‘DON’T WORRY, BE HAPPY’. I’m sitting on the lap of my much older cousin at his father’s funeral. I look down at metal and jelly-plastic adorning my tiny kid wrists and think, how absurd. Well, my vocabulary wasn’t advanced enough for such a succinct thought but, I remember the feeling of shame bubbling in my belly. How could I have been so foolish—so childish—as to have believed the lie of my time-telling device? I should have known better.

It’s 2017 and I’m twenty-five years old and, shockingly, jelly sandals have made a comeback. I walk into the office of a new psychiatrist and, behind the receptionist, is a tacky poster in a decrepit wooden frame. The words ‘DON’T WORRY, BE HAPPY’ contrast offensively against pasty florals. The bubbling in my belly bursts into sardonic snickers that elicit a disapproving scowl from the receptionist. Tell me doctor, is this the radical conclusion you’ve drawn after spending ten years in medical school? Well then, perhaps I should have taken the jelly-plastic at its word.

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