You’re allowed to be upset, depressed, or otherwise feel negatively about things that have nothing to do with the current world situation, presidential administration, or year.
Yes, this year has been difficult for a lot of people, for a lot of reasons.
There has been a lot of material circulating that normalizes feeling bad, given the circumstances— which can be helpful for a lot of people.
As tough as this year has been, it’s useful to know you’re not the only one struggling— that maybe struggling at a time in history such as this is fairly normal.
I’m glad so many people have found their voices this year and have been able to put words to what it’s like for them to struggle. I’m glad people have been able to connect and support each other through this time.
That said, I can’t help but think about a not-small set of people who are feeling lousy…and whose lousy feelings, while possibly exacerbated by the difficulties of this year, aren’t necessarily “caused” by this tough year.
There are people out there who, every time they see a “didn’t 2020 suck?” post, quietly reject that, sure, 2020 may have sucked…but I was unhappy BEFORE 2020.
There are people out there who are aware that they were struggling with things that, while perhaps exacerbated by the world situation, they’d been struggling with for awhile.
There’s no denying that this year has presented some once-in-a-generation stressors for a lot of people.
But traumatic stress, depression, and anxiety have been around for much longer than this last year.
I get a little leery when people seem to chalk up so much of their unhappiness this last year to the pandemic, political contests, or social conflicts.
I think it’s useful to acknowledge and really understand how events out in the world impact our lives.
But I really DON’T want people assuming that external factors completely account for what they’re feeling and experiencing.
People who are struggling with the symptoms of complex trauma before 2020, are often still struggling with it— and dealing with issues and symptoms they’d be dealing with whether or not 2020 had played out the way it did.
People who have been struggling with addiction, sometimes for years, are still faced with the basic equation they’d be faced with in any year: figuring out ways to get through the day without picking up.
You’re not weird if there are things you’re struggling with that have nothing to do with 2020.
There were, and are, things that are on your radar screen that can’t be summed up in a pithy meme about how hard this year has been for everybody.
Yes, this year has been tough for a lot of people, for a lot of unexpected reasons…but that doesn’t take away from how tough you, specifically, have had it, for reasons largely unrelated to what’s going on out there.
It’s really important we stay aware of the how complex our struggles can be.
I’ll be as glad as anybody to leave some of the cultural conflicts of 2020 in the rear view mirror— but let’s also keep our expectations in check.
The basic framework of our struggles may not change all that much just because the calendar year flips.
You’re not uniquely “broken” or “bad” if you have struggles that are largely unrelated to how difficult this year has been for everyone.
Whatever year it is, whatever is going on out there in the world, your task remains largely the same: investigating and identifying what’s messing with your life, and being realistic and consistent about making changes.
Mourn or celebrate the passing of this year however you need to.
But keep coming back to what matters.
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