Yesterday at the pharmacy, two ladies were having a chat in the queue behind me. They were obviously previously acquainted, as one asked the other how she had been holding up. She answered pretty boldly, “I’ve been really struggling.” Chatting with my friends recently we’ve all been able to make light of the situation, how little work we’re doing and how much wine we’re drinking, but at the core of it is an eventual sigh and loss of words. No plans are without limits, nothing’s certain in advance, no one’s doing exactly what they would like to be, and no one is quite at the level of happiness they hoped for. There’s understandably a reluctancy to speak up, because you could appear to be complaining whilst someone has it objectively worse off than you. Moreover in a global sense, the privileges we’ve lost as a population are ones many have never been given access to, and so to complain automatically feels like basking in entitlement. As a social media generation, we’re also dumped with a fear of shattering our perfectly poised online appearance, highlighting the best versions of ourselves and creating a truth about ourselves that really don’t add up.
If we really looked at the core of the situation, no one is currently where they would like to be. Whether that’s figuratively or literally, the restrictions becoming tiresome and seemingly limitless, and the mental strain on not being able to see a sense of normality coming, will have undoubtably taken a toll on everyone, in a range of ways. So why can't we admit it? Why was I so shocked to hear a lady admit, out loud in public, that her life is not what she wants? The endless rest days and taking life slowly had it novelty wear off, and we were left with a pretty considerable sense of boredom, frustration, and maybe anger that we didn’t achieve more. To essentially come full circle in many parts of the country, particularly over a season that’s based around family interaction and maximum enjoyment, is to feel immediate failure.
We would love to be immune to the impacts of the virus, the limitations on social interactions and engaging with businesses, activity and anything that gives us a sense of progress and bettering ourselves. To stand alone in a room with no help, no dependencies, no guilty pleasures, and independently say that you’re happy in yourself. But they aren’t bad things- to build your confidence off of how you make others feel, how you engage with your neighbours and those around you, the relationships you build through what you enjoy, how you feel success and achievement, and the habits that form your everyday routine. So when we’re refused access to all of the little ways in which we’ve created our lives, its not out of place to feel flat, a bit empty, and disappointed.
There’s no quick fix to this, or a solution that will arrive by the first of January. Many of us are understandably pretty skeptical about voicing any hopes or plans, but that doesn’t mean we place our emotional responses on pause too. Imagine if we all had the confidence of that lady to say how we really were, and to admit that sometimes, it gets the better of us. It gets said a lot to check up on your friends, to ask them how they are. But sometimes the best way is to start with yourself- create a space and a conversation where everyone isn’t always fine, down days are just as welcome as good news, and you’re still you, even if you’re not where you want to be. And to let your friends know on the days they don’t want to talk about, when they don’t want to go into detail, the people that care for them most are still there, over a screen and face to face.
We’ll be posting some more stuff on how to handle the Christmas period and after, and in the meantime we wish you a very merry Christmas, and a lovely time with whoever you choose to spend it with this year x
Words: Heather Casson
Photo: Tia Duff