Originally I thought it would be melancholy, but I guess that is more of like a pensive sadness (like sitting inside watching a rainy day listen to nostalgic music). It's not quite bittersweet because that is more of the feeling when one walks out of a friend's house after a moving away party.

Further, depressed and the like don't fit what I am looking for as depressed is a longer term and more serious thing.

Example: When I looked out at my family and friends at my birthday from my balcony I knew I should feel elated but I just felt _________ (melancholy mixed with bittersweet; a little numb as well) even as my lips gently curled into the faintest smile.

This would could also be used to describe the feeling of knowing rough times are ahead but still content when a wiser person/character is listening to a young, enthusiastic child who talks positively, excitedly, albeit unrealistically optimistic about the world.

  • Possible duplicate of Need Help Figuring Out What Word(s) Describes My Feelings [on hold] – AmE speaker May 2 '18 at 4:52
  • Not quite a duplicate because that one describes feeling emotionless but this one is absolutely felt – KendrickTV May 2 '18 at 5:04
  • Perhaps you are wanting to use a word like disheartened, which will give the connotation that it is something you know you should overcome. – jxh May 2 '18 at 20:50
  • I suspect there isn't such a word unless it depended on the reason, which is here unstated. Why could you not use "… I just felt perversely/contrarily sad…", please? I, for one, found all after "… the faintest smile" impenetrable. – Robbie Goodwin May 13 '18 at 21:02

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