I'm Allowed To Feel Sad Around The Holidays -- And You Are, Too

I am a shameless addict of Christmas television specials, green bean casseroles and, of course, winter break. However, this year, I couldn’t be more excited for it to be completely over.

By Julia Schemmer, 18

Christmas is around the corner, bringing an increased presence of ugly Christmas sweaters, ABC Family movie marathons and the tiny Pillsbury cookies that you want to consume in only one sitting. Whether you live in the heat of Southern California or the frigid temperatures of New York, it seems like the entire nation is getting ready to celebrate on Christmas Day. Department stores offer everything peppermint-flavored and Christmas-themed, as families post selfies together, complete with gap-toothed smiles and hot chocolate.

Out of all the holidays, Christmas is my favorite time of year. I am a shameless addict of Christmas television specials, green bean casseroles and, of course, winter break. Each year, I was known somewhat as a Cindy Lou Who figure around my family, planning different holiday parties, searching high and low for the perfect gift and doing my best to spread a little cheer in the process.

However, this year, I couldn’t be more excited for it to be completely over.

No, my heart didn’t shrink three times too small like the Grinch. No, I wasn’t about to yell “bah humbug” at the next person asking me what my holiday plans are. Yet within me lies a spirit so saddened by the holidays, and so eager for it to pass through into the New Year, where at least I had resolutions and goals to distract myself with. Instead of being joyful and triumphant, all I feel is tinges of loneliness and sadness this season. In a season full of remembrance and closeness, all I want to do is throw myself into my loyal bed instead of getting ready for a holiday party full of the awkward and embarrassing questions I wish I could give answers to.

I am constantly in transition. Last year, I was wrapping up college essays while decorating the tree, in nervous anticipation of where I would end up or what I would study. Now that I have made the precarious shift from high school to college, every shred of normalcy I once retained is abolished. Coming home from the holidays is a difficult thing to do, when you aren’t quite sure what your home is anymore.

Whatever your reasons are for not feeling the holiday spirit, you aren’t alone. If you are scared to go home because you are afraid of the judgments that someone you love will make, there are resources for you to get you through the holidays. We live in a commercialistic society so determined to make a sale that they forget that within the glamour of the holidays exists people going through mental health issues. As a result, we isolate the people who don’t say “Merry Christmas” at every passing stranger or get candy cane grams from their friends, making them feel like there is something inevitably wrong with them instead of attempting to understand their circumstances.

I am still healing, and I refuse to live up to the expectation that I must be happy all the time only because December 25th is around the corner. Yet, there is a part of this post that brings me frustration, because I wish to derive a solution to your problems, to wipe your tears and to give you a sense of excitement.

I can’t, and I am sorry for the people who have tried to do so. I am sorry for the amount of times you have heard the phrase “it’s just a phase” or “fake it until you make it," because nobody was built to go through life masking their feelings for someone else’s convenience. Although the holidays are a sensitive time for many, you are so much stronger than what you give yourself credit for. You will get past these next few weeks, because you are a force so unbelievably wonderful and capable, and one day, you will be able to tell the world that you made it when everyone else said you couldn’t do it.

I can’t make myself excited for the holidays just as much as I can’t make you do the same. Every ounce of my energy and every inch of my being wishes that we weren’t going through this pain, but since we are, I want you to know that you are not alone during this time. You are not weird, flawed or different for feeling anything less than happy on Christmas Day. Do not feel ashamed to take moments for yourself, to step outside the flurry of the day to read, write, hug your dog or call a friend.