Editorial - Coming Home for the Holidays
This holiday season will be unlike any other we've had to deal with: a global pandemic, a nail-biting election, and countless protests for change have happened all in one year. And to boot, misinformation had spread just as fast as the virus, infecting people with theories about how the "true" origins of the virus, about the election being rigged, and about how protesters are in league with violent, anti-government groups.
It's no surprise some of us would dread coming home to families who might have a different outlook on the situation than us.
The year has been stressful as is. The least that any of us want is for the world to just "go back to normal". This might be the last holiday we might ever spend with some of our loved ones. We might already have empty table settings. For some of us, avoiding family gatherings, even for the safety of our older and immunosuppressed relatives, isn’t an option.
How can anybody keep their sanity this holiday season?
First, remember that you’re not alone. There are people out there going through the same things you are, even if it doesn’t feel like it. Reach out to your friends or other trusted people in your life. If you can’t, that’s okay too. Just remember that you’re not alone.
Second, remind yourself of your values. You know what you believe in. Try not to waste your energy on people who won’t listen to you. Some people will never change their minds, and that is not your battle, but also be open to new ideas. Remember that your mind is just as hard to change as those around you. Be able to recognize the knowledge you have - or don’t have - on a specific subject. Have the intelligence to say, “I don’t know enough about that to discuss it.” Some issues aren’t black and white, and some are. Understand the difference and act accordingly.
Third, understand that it’s okay to remove people from your life who impact your mental and physical health if they don’t have any regard for your well-being. It will only hurt you more to spend your energy trying to change the way they think. Block them on social media, stop calling them, and try to remove yourself from the situation if you can. You’ve done all you can to respect them, but if they’ve made it clear that they won’t respect you and your values, then you don’t owe them anything. This is difficult especially if you have close family or friends that suddenly have views that don’t respect your own. It’s okay if you can’t cut them out of your life forever, but try to distance yourself as best you can.
For some of us, no matter what we do, this advice is difficult to follow or downright useless. A lot of it is contradictory, but it really depends on the situation. The most important thing to remember is that you are not alone. There are others out there going through the same thing you are, and realizing that alone may be just enough to get through this holiday season.
If this holiday season is still just too much to handle, don’t be afraid to reach out to these numbers and seek help.
National Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
LGBTQ Help Hotline (The Trevor Project): 1-866-488-7386