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Looking Back on 2020, However You’re Feeling Is OK

It’s been several months since we’ve been living in the COVID-19 pandemic, and with the pandemic, have come insurmountable changes in our lives. Too many lives have been lost, millions of people have lost their jobs, many of us are lonely from social distancing and struggling to navigate the virtual world, we’ve had a resurgence of the Black Lives Matter matter movement due to police brutality and white supremacy, we went through the tumultuous 2020 presidential election and there’s still likely more to come.

It’s more than safe to say a lot has happened in 2020, and the pandemic has been a contributing factor in many of these monumental events in our lives this year. Most of us are still adjusting to the changes that have happened this year thus far. This will be the first time in our lives the winter holidays will take place during a pandemic, and these holidays will be celebrated (if celebrated) in different ways than usual. And, for those of us who are still able to work or are studying in school, navigating these dynamics virtually or socially distancing poses several challenges. This has, in no shape or form, been a normal or easy year.

There’s a push to stay motivated during this time. You can find countless articles on tips for how to be productive during the pandemic, how to manage your mental health and how to still socialize, albeit differently. Maybe someone in your life is telling you that bit of advice themselves. There’s a push for us to operate our lives as usual, working toward the same or near-same goals as we had prior to the pandemic. People want a sense of normalcy in their lives, and with the pandemic lasting as long as it has with no certain end date, this is more than understandable. Taking control of what you can in your life is an empowering feeling that can tremendously help your sense of well-being, which is especially crucial during this time.

But the push to return to our “normal” lives and adjust to our new challenges with ease is not realistic. For people fortunate enough to still have jobs or school, a safe place to live and access to technology, things may not be as dire as they could be, but we don’t have that kind of insight into each person’s life. While one person may find staying at home a good way for them to get more done, others live in self-isolation and struggle to get through the day.

For people who previously had mental health issues, this time is likely harder than the previous years because we can’t combat feelings of loneliness as easily as we could in the past, where we could safely hang out in person. Everyone is in a different situation right now: financially, emotionally, physically and in other areas of their lives. Expecting other people, or in more cases than not, yourself, to simply function as you did before we lived in a pandemic is unrealistic and puts unnecessary, stressful expectations on ourselves.

A banner promoting The Mighty's new Navigating Coronavirus Together group on The Mighty mobile app. The banner reads, Want to connect with others who are managing their health during the pandemic? Join Navigating Coronavirus Together now. Click to join.

There’s so much going on already outside of our control that the last thing we need is to self-impose stress on ourselves. The world is stressed out right now, and likely, so are you. We are not OK.

It’s OK if you don’t feel like getting out of bed every morning. It’s OK if you don’t feel like doing laundry every day. It’s OK if you don’t feel like cooking your own meals right now. It’s OK if you don’t feel like applying for the tenth job you’ve applied for this year when your past opportunities have been canceled during the pandemic. Or if you never heard back from one place, or received a rejection letter soon after applying and you’re feeling generally discouraged about job hunting. It’s OK if you don’t feel like turning on your camera during a video call, or hopping on a video call with your friends because it just feels exhausting as opposed to meeting someone in person. It’s OK if you feel sad. It’s OK if you feel depressed. It’s OK if you feel apathetic, if you feel OK, if you feel good some days and bad others days, or you simply don’t know how you feel.

There’s no instruction manual for how you’re supposed to feel during this time. Pressuring yourself to feel a certain way will likely make you feel worse about yourself. Instead, let yourself feel what you’re feeling. Embrace how you feel. There is, of course, always help out there if you’re struggling with your mental health.

Our initial emotional reactions are largely outside of our control. Emotions aren’t bad; they simply exist, and often in accordance in what is happening around us. That doesn’t necessarily mean that something is “bad” or “good,” objectively speaking, but if it feels bad to you, chances are it feels bad to a lot of people, too. And that’s perfectly OK to feel.

The world is chaotic right now. It’s understandable if you’re feeling chaotic as well, or all over the place. In the end, accepting what we feel, without expectations on how we’re supposed to feel, will make us feel more at peace with ourselves, even if the world around us isn’t.

Unsplash image by Andre Hunter