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5. When You’re Not Okay
So you're crying in a restaurant full of strangers because you lost your job that afternoon. So you're unable to come up with a chipper toast at the family reunion because you haven't gotten pregnant after seven rounds of in vitro—a fact every single family member knows about. So you stand in the corner during the karaoke session when some lady starts singing "Operator," by Jim Croce, because it's the world's saddest song about betrayal and not being able to stop loving jerks. So...what?

Not being okay is not influenza. Other people will not catch it, and you can't sneeze it into their soup. Further, just about everybody has been not okay once, twice or 70 times in their lives. The compassion that being in such state usually inspires when you own up to it—or it burbles out of you without control or warning—may not make everything okay, but it is the first step in your feeling a little closer to it.