When most people think of holidays, they think of celebrations and a time to catch up with family and friends. All of the ads, whether it’s for Thanksgiving or the Fourth of July, show happy families cooking together, laughing and having an overall great time. Other students talk about how happy they are that they’re going home to see their cousins, or what types of food they’ll be eating. However, as most of us know, it isn’t usually like that.
I never liked the holidays. I always dreaded going to family gatherings, for a multitude of reasons.
For years, I felt guilty about it, and tried my best to fit in or follow along. It never worked, and I usually ended up leaving angrier than I was before I arrived. I always felt like the odd kid at the table, who didn’t fit in with the adults or the kids. I never experienced what my friends experienced, where they came to school and talked about how much they missed seeing their family. I never had the feeling the people on TV had.
Of course, we all know that the vast majority of things we see in the media are exaggerated and fake, but I still had trouble shaking that feeling of guilt. When people asked me if I was excited for break, it got exhausting to lie and say yes. It got exhausting to pretend like I care about random gossip that circles around the couches in the living room. It got exhausting to pretend like I don’t care if my family treats me like I’m weird just because I’m transgender or because I’m not Christian. It felt like it got exhausting to even breathe at some points.
After this Thanksgiving, I realized something. It’s okay to feel like that. It’s okay if you can’t handle the holidays, whether it’s because of your family, or mental health, or because you just don’t have the energy. It’s impossible to meet the exact expectations that American society places upon us when it comes to this. It’s okay if you spend Thanksgiving alone. It’s okay if you spend New Year’s Day crying into a glass of sparkling cider five minutes into the new year.
It’s not shameful to struggle, especially during the times where life gets the most stressful and there are so many expectations that weigh you down.
All I ask is for everyone to find their place and feel comfortable with it. You are not a bad person for spending time with your friends instead of your family that will make you feel worse. You aren’t a bad person for being too tired to cook something for your family, and you are not a burden for being who you truly are. You deserve support and to be around people who care for you. Take care of yourself.
Ian Stobaugh is a freshman German major. He can be contacted at 581-1812 or [email protected]