This past year should have been one of the happiest I have experienced so far. I got engaged almost exactly one year ago, and during that time, there were whispers of a virus overseas, but I thought there was no possible way it would affect my life—and if it did, it would be for a couple of weeks, and then everything would go back to “normal.” At that time, life still felt exciting and hopeful. The future seemed so full of possibilities, and I felt fortunate to start a new job and begin planning my dream wedding with my family and friends by my side.
Everything came to a screeching halt on March 12, 2020. That is a day I will never forget. I was starting my new job and was still on a high from the proposal just four days earlier. Halfway through my very first day, an announcement was made that all of our offices across the nation would be closing indefinitely the next day. This sent me spiraling downward into a pit of anxiety, stress, and self-pity. I shifted to working from home, and my job was still secure, so I felt grateful. But the future was starting to look a little less bright.
Over the next several months, there was so much uncertainty, and I know you all were experiencing it, too. Family gatherings could no longer happen, big life events were cancelled, and everything about life was so far from the “normal” that we all knew. I no longer felt excited about my upcoming wedding, and motivation to work was at a low. Life was dismal. Not just for me, but for pretty much everyone. What came next? Guilt. I was healthy. My family and friends were healthy. I still had my job, and I had a nice home to ride out quarantine in. There were so many people who were so much worse off than I was, but I still couldn’t help but feel immense disappointment and self-pity. I was one of those little girls that started planning her wedding as soon as she understood what a wedding was. It felt like I had been completely robbed of the wedding planning experience I had always dreamed of. What I thought was going to be a joyous process had turned into an experience full of dread and anxiety. Would my friends and family be able to attend my wedding? Would I even be able to have a wedding at all? There were no clear answers, but I still couldn’t help feeling foolish that I was upset over something like a wedding when people were dying alone without getting to say goodbye to their loved ones.
What I have recently come to realize is that feeling guilty about being sad and upset does not make my situation or anyone else’s better. Those feelings are still there and sometimes even amplified by the guilt. Instead of stressing out about being stressed out, I have started to practice gratitude and accept that my feelings are valid. I take time to reflect on what I am thankful for and recognize that I am fortunate, but that doesn’t mean I can’t feel sad for a little while, too. Whether it’s just a crummy day or something major happens, we just can’t be happy all of the time, and there is nothing wrong with that. It’s okay to feel your feelings without guilt.
About the Author:
Elizabeth works full time in nonprofit development. She also teaches dance, coordinates weddings, and enjoys freelance writing. In her spare time, Elizabeth likes to spend time with her family, including her fiancé and two dogs.