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It’s Okay If Nothing Feels Okay Right Now

It finally happened. I hit my limit this week. I made it through 230 days of relentless optimism, of trying to uncover a silver lining threaded through the past 7 months, and of convincing myself that there had to be some big meaningful reason that we are all experiencing so much loss this year. A few days into the pandemic, I forced myself to get over the shock of what was happening, took stock of everything that I still needed to get done every day, and organized my life into neat little checklists and firm schedules to keep everything under control. I made it through 230 days of telling myself that I could handle everything, that I was okay.

I’m not okay. I’m guessing that a lot of you probably aren’t either.

I am just so tired of all of this. I miss going to coffee shops, I miss live music, I miss passing people in the grocery store without worrying that they’re getting too close to me. I miss smiling at strangers on the streets, I miss petting dogs on the sidewalk, and I miss hugs. I really, really miss hugs.

I’m also tired of trying to keep up the appearance that I have everything under control. I’m tired of pretending that I’m happy to talk to a computer screen all day, that I’m not having any trouble staying motivated to get all of my work done when I spend my whole work day two feet away from my bed. I’m tired of pretending that I’m not overwhelmed by everything that’s happening in the world, that I’m not emotionally exhausted by the end of some (most) days. I’m tired of pretending that I don’t need to just fall apart.

I’m tired of pretending that everything’s fine, so I’ve decided to stop – to let myself acknowledge that this situation isn’t fine, I’m not fine. To let myself accept that things are anything but okay right now.

Yes, this will pass. We will be okay again — we’ll be able to hug our friends again, we’ll be able to go out and go dancing and fall in love and go to concerts and leave our houses without triple checking that we have our masks and hand sanitizer with us. We’ll be able to let out the breath that we’ve all been holding for 230 days.

For now, let yourself fall apart when you need to. Let yourself crumble, let yourself cry and scream and fight and do whatever it is you need to do to feel something again. It’s okay if you need to cancel a Zoom meeting because you can’t sit in front of your screen for another second, it’s okay if you need to get a deadline extended because work just doesn’t seem important in the context of what we’re facing globally. It’s okay if you need to turn off your phone and put on the saddest movie you can think of and just let yourself really, finally cry about everything that you’ve lost recently. It’s okay if you need to stop searching for the light for a second.

Because the light will always find its way back to you, even when you’re not seeking it out. It will sneak back in when you least expect it — something will make you smile in spite of yourself, some song will pull at your heartstrings in a way that reminds you that you’re never truly facing any of this alone.

Maybe I’m not okay. Maybe my life looks wildly different than it did a year ago. Maybe I can’t always see the bright side of things. Maybe I haven’t figured out how to create some deep, poetic meaning out of this chaos. But I am learning how to sit within it. I am learning how to be gentle with myself, to let myself fall apart when I need a break from holding it together. I am learning how to show my love to my friends and family in new ways when I can’t be with them in person. I am learning how to show love to myself when I need it. I’m learning how to be okay with not being okay.

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