Feeling bad? That’s ok

Bailey Tomlinson, Columnist

It’s okay to let yourself grieve the experiences that a pandemic has taken away from you. 

Many, if not all of us, plan our lives ahead to some degree. From flexible daydreamers to detail trackers, every one of us has some level of expectation from our futures. There are certain moments, experiences or even feelings that we expect them to possess and when they don’t, well, it’s hard. It’s a form of loss.

In a big-picture sense, it’s a form of loss we deal with daily. We expect to get lunch with a friend and they cancel. We expect to stay on schedule and end up falling behind. We expect to feel a certain way and the course of the day just doesn’t deliver. Usually, these unmet expectations are entirely surmountable. There’s always tomorrow.

Now, finding ourselves in a pandemic, it seems like almost all of our expectations from our days remain unmet. Opportunities disappear, plans dissolve or friends can’t be reached. Our entire lives have shifted to a narrative that nobody could have pencilled in on their calendar, and there’s no reset with the sunrise. We have to continue fighting our way through a pandemic following every disappointment the days may bring.

I’m here to tell you it’s okay to grieve your losses in this season. Things that may seem silly or inconsequential are okay to feel hurt about. Maybe a day trip had to be canceled, or a fun get-together with friends had to be postponed. In a time of uncertainty, those day-to-day plans hold a key sense of normalcy that make them hard to let go of. It’s okay to acknowledge that.

I know many people who have had to put large life plans on hold. Plans like weddings, or trips that have taken years to put together. Some mention that they feel bad for the amount of hurt they feel over cancellations or postponements. 

It’s okay to grieve the loss of your expectations during this situation. It’s okay to feel pain, anger or anguish in the face of these changes. These changes are shifting our roots on a fundamental level, and to try and continue our lives without acknowledging that wouldn’t benefit any one of us.

Almost all of my friends are graduating this quarter. I expected to have another three months with them, making plans and having experiences together. Now, I’m uncertain if I’ll see them again before they graduate. I struggled at first with the hurt I felt thinking about it, but after giving it time I recognized it as what it was. I’m grieving the loss of my expectations of my future. 

From one person in this situation to another, hear me when I tell you that it’s okay to not be okay right now. Even over little things, or things you feel like you should be okay over. The hurt we’re all facing right now is very real, and deserves our recognition, just as any other hurt would.

We are strong enough to navigate this situation, and we are strong enough to overcome this grief. A day will come when we make expectations and they are fulfilled again. We just have to get there first, and this is a step on the path there.