The Holidays and Comparison of joy

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“Comparison is the thief of joy.” - Theodore Roosevelt

The Holiday Season. It can be such a mixed bag of emotions. We see everywhere whether it be on holiday ads or TV shows, Instagram or in holiday cards, that this season is “supposed to be” a time for joy, spirit, laughing, amazing food, receiving the perfect gifts, a time of gratitude and community. If the holidays are those things for you, that’s amazing. But it may help to keep reading because maybe someone you love isn’t experiencing the holidays in that way.

The reality is, holidays (or other special events) are generally a HUGE trigger for us to compare ourselves to the next person who “appears happy”. Holidays are another trigger for us to compare our internal state to the way others’ lives look from the outside. Maybe those people we look at are truly happy, or maybe it’s just for show. But either way, it’s unrealistic to think that our lives, including during the holidays, are supposed to look exactly like the idealized images we see in the media.

I think deep down we all know this, so why do we continue to beat ourselves up? Maybe this year you have to work during the holiday. Maybe this year money is tight so you feel like you can’t go “all out” like you have in the past. Maybe you lost a loved one and not being with them this time of year is extra hard. Maybe things are tense with the family, and getting together for the holidays puts all of those tensions under a microscope and allows them to explode. Or maybe, things got so bad with your family that you can’t be with them at all. And for you lovely queer / LGBTQ+ identifying individuals out there, we see you. Besides all of the issues above, you could be experiencing the added struggles of how you are perceived after coming out to your family, or the pressure of being closeted, or the fear of being outed or not accepted for who you are.

If you relate to any of those things above or holidays are hard for you for a different reason, it’s okay. You are not alone in the holidays being difficult, and it is completely okay if the holidays aren’t as magical as society makes them seem. But taking care of yourself during this “high pressure for joy” period is so important. Here are some self care thoughts to consider.

- Family doesn’t have to be blood- you can create a chosen family. Friends, co-workers, community members, classmates, etc.

- Sometimes when you are feeling so low, the best self care is just keeping yourself safe. If that’s laying in bed and watching TV or movies all day to get through the day, that’s okay. Just stay safe. And please ask for help if you can’t keep yourself safe. You can text The Crisis Text line at 741741, or call the suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255. Both numbers are accessible 24/7.

- Being lonely and being alone are two different things. If you’re going to be alone during the holidays, what’s something special you can do for yourself to not feel lonely? You could give yourself the gift of more self-love and self-acceptance this year.

- New Year’s Resolutions time is around the corner, but forget that. I personally think New Years Resolutions are stupid because EVERY DAY is an opportunity to move in the right direction and do something to make yourself feel better, so why limit it to (let's be real) the first couple days of the new year? If you happen to have a life changing epiphany as the ball is dropping this year, that’s great! But you don’t have to wait until January 1st to do that self care thing you’ve been thinking about (including seeking therapy or another kind of support).

- Acts of Service go a long way- how can you give back this holiday? If you need a little boost in your mood, so many services around the holidays need volunteers. Head over to a soup kitchen, an animal shelter, or another organization and see how you can get involved. The cliche that service is its own reward can be SO true, and SO fulfilling.

You are more than deserving of all of the love, joy, and success in the world. But having love, joy, and success doesn’t mean that we feel good all of the time. It’s okay to have bad days. But here’s a question for you- If you feel like you don’t have love, joy or success what is one thing you can do today to move towards them, even if it is small?

Be kind to yourself this holiday. And if it’s not feeling like a good time for you, better days are coming.