By Jordan Metzman, Intern at GNI
In the last few days, I’ve lost virtually everything I’ve been looking forward to in the near future. (Maybe you have too?)
I’ve canceled summer travel plans to Israel and a backpacking graduation trip to New Zealand. I’ve lost the end of my senior year of college, and I’m pending the loss of my ability to walk across a stage in a cap and gown. With the volatility of the economy, I’m worried about finding a job and securing my entrance into the working world in just a couple of months. It suddenly feels like I’m compounding losses, and as a naturally optimistic person, I’m struggling to find something to hold onto through all this.
This week, I’m trying to give myself some grace. I know right now staying home is the best thing I can do for everyone — but we’re still allowed to mourn the plans, dreams, and life moments lost too, right?
My disappointment with each cancellation has been met with a lot of internal guilt. I think about the ways other people in my community and across the country are suffering. Anxiety is running high universally, and death and illness are becoming everyday conversations for all of us. Every time I start to feel sorry for myself I also shame myself into remembering that I have important things others do not: safety, stability, and health. You should be more grateful, I tell myself.
Turns out guilt can be pretty exhausting. I’m realizing it often brings anxiety and confusion with it too, and trying to process it all at once seems like perhaps too big a task for any of us. Through it all, I’ve been trying to figure out ways to alleviate some guilt while reminding myself it’s okay not to be okay right now. Here’s how I’m teaching myself to process (slowly) and finding solace in the wake of canceled big life moments:
1. Keep a list of positive things
These can be words from friends in your community, those rare encouraging sound bites from the news, or things in your house you’re grateful for. It’s one thing to acknowledge them in the moment, but having a folder or list to return to in especially in dark moments (like pressing “cancel” on your flight across the world) can help pick you up, even if it’s just slightly.
2. Give yourself a set time for sadness
I’ve always found that holding in my anxiety and stress can manifest itself in worse ways than just releasing that frustration into one tearful mess. So, I choose to cry and mourn my disappointment. Preferably in the shower, with the last song of Hamilton queued up in the background. It’s about giving yourself the space to feel self-pity for a designated length of time so you can move on and feel release.
3. Create a script for how you’re feeling if it’s too overwhelming to explain.
Letting people into your emotional hardships can be hard. It’s easier to throw on a brave face or push people away. But, I’ve found, for my community to truly support me, I’ve had to break down how I’m coping. I’ve started thinking through scripts for different situations where I want to let someone in, but don’t know how. I’ve also let myself take (virtual) space from the people I don’t have the ~emotional bandwidth~ for right now (and I’ve created scripts for that too!).
4. Remember, this is one small moment in the rest of your life
What feels huge today will be a part of history before we know it. I’ve always lived by the mantra “Zoom In, Zoom Out” when things feel overwhelming. Zoom in, and this is devastating in a way that will take your breath away. Zoom out, and we’re all hopeful that things will one day return to normal. I’ve been visiting this site to learn about other big historical moments that happened today (or any day). It brings some peace of mind that life really does keep going and we find a way to get through.