This story was created in tandem with a gameplay challenge using the Tragic Clown that inspired this tale. It is a fairly autobiographical and metaphorical glance at my life experience, but should also be relatable to many. I also dedicate this to everyone who struggles with mental health in the many various ways that this can present burdens in our lives and to Bell Let’s Talk day, which is January 28th this year.
This is my submission for the Monthly Simlit Short Story Challenge hosted by Lisabee Sims HERE. When it comes time to vote I will add a link to the others and encourage reading all stories before casting your vote.
Sometimes a clown isn’t all that they seem. There is a mask and a costume, there are jokes and laughs, but underneath that public image something darker may be hiding. This was the case for this particular tragic clown. She had a troubled past, but her life now by all accounts could be considered good, privileged, and was even described as a charmed life as some of her friends.. She had all that she needed and more. But, she was struggling most of the time.
She tried to fake it as best as she could. She didn’t want to be a burden to her friends and bring them down with her so she kept up the facade; the strong, resilient, successful person that they needed her to be. She just wanted to inspire people and didn’t want them to know what was really going on. She dressed up, put on her makeup and tried her best to “present as normal”. Laughter was the best medicine they say, so she just kept trying to keep on laughing. Humour was one of her coping skills, but it wasn’t really working if truth be told.
Over time she tried many ways to ease the pain, sometimes they were not the most healthy coping mechanisms. But nothing really helped much, and sometimes created even more problems. Holding in all of this emotion was exhausting. There had to be a better way.
It was very difficult to pull herself out of that mindset though; that belief that the universe was out to get her. One thing after another seemed to go wrong, or maybe it was just how she perceived it. Every little thing felt like a disaster and she didn’t know how much more she could take.
Life was throwing more and more at her; work, family, health, friends, social life, self-help activities, hobbies, house work and general adulting all felt so overwhelming. It was like a juggling act that was going to turn out in a mess all over the floor if she could not keep up. Even normal day to day things like cooking or getting dressed added to this feeling of being overwhelmed.
But you know, she was nothing if not resilient and so with what little energy she could muster up she learned some productive coping skills. It meant stepping back from other of life’s demands sometimes because taking care of herself had to be a priority. She found some of these strategies worked, others did not. It was a journey of trial and error until she found what was best for her.
The activities that made the most difference were usually social groups where she connected with others that had similar problems and similar interests. Writing groups, online game communities, photography groups and poetry slam nights at the open mic club were some of her favourite days where she really felt the connection that helped her finally feel hope for recovery.
She eventually let her guard down and took off the mask most of the time and you know what, most of those people around her in her circles stayed with her. Some left if they didn’t like what they saw, and others she left behind because they were toxic for her, but most stayed and she knew she was surrounded by good souls. This was her tribe.
She began to realize that she did have skills that others appreciated as well so she dared to make a move towards a new life that was more gratifying. She saw things in a more positive light, and she had the confidence to take chances.
Let’s be realistic here, this is not a tale of all rainbows and unicorns and cheese fountains. Some days were rougher than others. Life still throws lemons her way and sometimes she just doesn’t feel like making lemonade. Sometimes she just needs to rest or pour out her sadness in creative ways, but she knows what she needs to care for herself and tries not to let it drag her down too far. This is the reality of life.
Over time, once she learned to appreciate that she had some gifts that could be used to spread joy and hope to others she decided to dedicate some of her energy to helping other people. She hopes to inspire others to find their path, to take their first steps on a journey towards something meaningful. There is light down that tunnel if you just keep moving forward. Now she is the leader of S.A.D. Clowns, a charitable organization that raises money for programs to help build people up and find their hope.