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Everything Feels Bad But Also It’s The Holidays: A Survival Guide

Remember 2016? Our contempt for the year that took a lot of people we loved away? For the year that made President Donald Trump a reality? Remember how we were all, “Good riddance, 2016!” as if 2017 wasn’t guaranteed to be a billion times worse? We were so young. So full of hope. So radiant. Many of us were delusional and very naive. And now, we are old and tough and seasoned, and aware that the foreseeable future is going to feel very much the same.

And also now it’s the holidays.

Which is great. I love a holiday and I ate Advent calendar chocolate for breakfast, so I’m cool, you guys, I’m festive. But also, the holidays (even on their own) can be super hard. They can be reminders of frayed relationships, they can be the flashback to bad memories, or they can be a guaranteed couple of days where you will feel absolutely terrible. The holidays, like people, are complex and great and the worst. And if you pour that into the “2017 has already been hilariously awful” mix, we’ve got ourselves a misery broth.

So here are a few tips from me to you to get through them. Because you can, and it’s fine, and you’ll be fine, and you are not going to let this fucking year push you over the edge.

Say no to things you don’t want to do
I love saying no to things. I love not going to things I don’t want to go to, I love not hanging out with people I don’t want to see, I love deciding how my time is going to be divided up when and if I’m in charge of it. I love it. Because look: if I’m dreading something, I’m going to be consumed by that dread. All I’m going to think about is the dread. And then, I’m going to get even more anxious and even more prematurely bummed out and even more stressed, and that’s no fun for anybody. So look: you don’t have to go to the thing, you don’t have to participate in the gift exchange, you don’t have to do any of it. And you don’t even have to decide right now. Maybe right now you would rather pass away than attend that potluck. But maybe the day of the potluck, you’re like “Actually I’m really psyched?” Take it as it comes. And if anybody gives you shit (because it’s only considerate to give someone a heads up if you’re going to bail), trust you made the right choice.

Surround yourself with pals who get it
Here is a great friendship test: if you feel like you are shouting into the void when you explain to your friends why you’re feeling awful or not great or why you really aren’t feeling Yankee Swap this year, those pals may not be your go-to people. And you know who your go-tos are. Surround yourself with them and friends like them. An admission that you’ve been having a Real Time since Thanksgiving should never be met with “Oh I get it, my crush didn’t text me back, so I feel you.”

10 Seconds
Okay, so I have tried to embrace the world of mindfulness (I have, I really have) but sometimes it’s not a thing that helps me at all (and somehow makes me even angrier?), so I have my limits. I mean, some of us (hello!) can spend about five seconds doing pseudo-meditation before our brains go into hyper-drive or we’re confronted with some Real Shit Reminders and those Real Shit Reminders is like, “Bitch, sorry, but deep breathing right now is not going to help you.” But the other night my friend Jess came over and gave me the greatest advice: specifically, she quoted Kimmy Schmidt and reminded me that we can do anything for ten seconds. So there you go. Survive ten seconds. That’s all you have to do. Get through ten seconds. Then another ten seconds. Then maybe, on the third ten seconds, make a tea. I don’t know. But ten seconds by ten seconds has kept me sane over the last little while because then “just don’t freak out” morphed into “but just finish doing this” and “and okay watch more of The Crown” and then it all blends and it’s not as vivid-feeling anymore.

Accept your “THIS IS THE WORST” feelings
For the record, there’s a difference between acknowledging this year has made you feel like the walking undead (not even The Walking Dead, because that would connote being attached to a multi-million dollar franchise) and shitting on everyone else’s Fun Christmas plans. Don’t do the latter. I’ve done it, and somehow you feel even worse. But at the same time, it’s okay to be angry and yourself, too. And I will say, as someone whose close friends and family have also felt the brunt of 2017’s wrath (in its many forms), there’s a bond that comes with being really, really fucking tired and mad and sad and drained. And the bond is actually . . . really fun and nice? Which is strange, I know. But there’s something comforting in being realistic about how shit you feel, about how shit your friends feel, and about how anyone who doesn’t feel as shit needs to kindly and quietly please jog on because you guys are all about to make a lot of morbid jokes that will horrify everyone who isn’t you.

And that’s fine! I mean, there’s a time and a place (and don’t descend on Christmas dinner making jokes about …whatever-the-fuck you’ve been making jokes about because your Grandpa will not get it and that’s a whole thing), but when you’re around your people, that time/place is, well, most of the time. You are not a negative person if you admit that you are feeling angry and cynical and distrustful and not at-capacity for joy. You are not a downer if you’re having a hard time. You are not dramatic if you have problems.

You are also not ruining anybody else’s holidays. Because honestly anyone whose holidays can get ruined by them acknowledging the shit you’re going through seem fickle and weird and honestly even a little bit weak. You are not going to ruin Brenda’s holidays by staying home to hang with family or a few best friends. You are not Ghost of Christmas Whatever-The-Fuck. You are getting through it and that’s enough.


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