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It's Okay to Not be Okay

"It's okay to not be okay." I love this phrase and its spread of mental health awareness.

What does "okay" mean anyway? A state of normality? Or perhaps maybe you are fine today, but may not be "OK" tomorrow. Sometimes others appear "okay” on social media surrounded by friends, but are incredibly lonely in reality.

Other times, it is hard to identify feelings and easy to get sucked into them like quick sand. When you say you are “okay” or “fine”, how many times are you actually just “fine"? Emotions are normal. We all have good and bad ones. It is how we respond to them that affects our lives.

Inspired by all of this, I looked up what "okay" actually means. Ironically, "OK" was a bit of a joke in the 19th century. Showing us that quite literally it is "OK to not be OK."

In the 1840s, Martin Van Buren's followers at his re-election chanted "OK." This referred to “Old Kinderhook” (He was from Kinderhook, New York). However, his political opponents called him "Martin Van Ruin." (This likely came from the economic depression during his previous term). “OK” vs “Van Ruin”? Spoiler alert, he lost the re-election.

"OK" is also a play on words. Around the same time as Van Buren's campaigns, there was an intentional misspelling of “oll korrect” in an early 19th century newspaper according to sources. The writer thought it would be funny to write "oll korrect" as opposed to "all correct."

Of note, "okay" came about from the popular 19th century writer Louisa May Alcott. This is apparently the spelling of "OK" she preferred.

An imperfect OK is more accurate for society and even its history.

*I encourage you to reach out for support if you are "not okay." It happens to us all. Talk to trusted friends or family and your health care provider. There IS help available.

*988 is the suicide and crisis hotline available 24 hours a day in English and Spanish*

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