For all of you teens and young adults living through a global pandemic for the past two years, the phrase “the best years of my life” might sting a bit.
I mean, let's just take a look at some of the struggles you've had to deal with:
sometimes being unable to see your friends and family in person for weeks at a time,
wearing a mask on your face in public pretty much at all times,
staying 6 feet away from your boyfriend (no thanks! haha!)
readjusting to new CDC Guidelines over, and over, and over....
AND having to adjust or completely miss out on many of the momentous occasions that supposedly make these years the “best”.
You have missed school dances, graduations, parties, and nights out with friends...but most of all you're missing a sense of normalcy. And, there are likely a lot of other uncomfortable emotions you might be feeling, too, such as anger, sadness, confusion, frustration, and maybe even some depression or anxiety.
You have missed school dances, graduations, parties, and nights out with friends...but most of all you're missing a sense of normalcy.
I am here to tell you that all of the emotions you might be feeling are completely valid and I can assure you that you are NOT the only one feeling that way. I know it is a bit cliché to say you are not alone in a time like this, but it’s true!
It’s likely your friends know exactly how you are feeling because they have walked alongside of you in the struggle all this time. But...maybe you lost some friends because you weren’t able to see them as often, and texting and snapchat just weren't enough. That’s hard to process, too. You figured it might happen when you graduated, but you didn’t plan for it to happen sooner, did you?
Your parents or other family members don’t fully understand what you are going through because their experience as a student was considered “normal” compared to yours. There wasn’t a pandemic going on stopping them from living that “young and free” experience as a teen and emerging adult. You know, the kind you see in all the movies and TV shows.
All of their stories of “When I was your age…” started to get old and gut-wrenching really fast knowing that it isn’t going to be the same for you and you can’t go back in time to relive these years. I bet that leaves you feeling lonely oftentimes. You might be asking yourself, “Does anyone understand?” When you answer “No” to that question, you might be left feeling completely hopeless. Powerless, even.
After all, the pandemic isn’t a life decision you made for yourself, it is something that is happening to you—out of your control. Not many people enjoy feeling out of control; it’s scary to face all the unknowns. Will I be able to graduate on time, will there be an in person prom or graduation, will I be able to visit my dream colleges in person, will I be able to get recognized for my accomplishment and have all the people there that I love, will I be able to have a “normal” college life experience on campus? The list could go on.
I'm sure much of this resonates with you, and that you have had even more difficulty experiences as a result of the pandemic. So, let me ask you this:
How do you get through all of this super hard stuff and still have hope for what is to come?
The reality is, you've endured probably some of the most difficult times in your life to date. In the meantime, you have also likely learned some very important things about yourself, others, and the world in the midst of all the pain you’ve experienced. Again, you might feel lost, sad, or downright pissed off about how this has all gone down --- and your emotions are completely valid towards it all. It's not fair that you can’t go back in time and get back all of the things you might have missed and that sucks. It really does.
You might be struggling with that last part of the question. How do you hold hope for what is to come despite all the pain you’ve experienced up until this very moment in time? Well, therapy is a great place to start.
In case you don't know already, therapy is a safe, non-judgmental space for you to fully express your emotions (no matter how uncomfortable they may be) and receive feedback, a calming presence, a listening ear, and some new skills to help you tackle those “trials to come” we mentioned earlier. It's also confidential, which means you can be totally honest about what you're going through (trust me, you can't shock your therapist!). Plus, you can still see your therapist virtually no matter WHAT the pandemic throws at you.
It takes great courage to admit you need help and take that first step towards healing, and it is my hope that you find a therapist you feel like understands you and creates a place for you to feel safe to express what you need. If you're looking for someone to talk to, please reach out - I repeat, you are NOT alone!
Wishing you all the best on your journey!
~Nicole Koronkowski, MSW Nicole Koronkowski is a masters level therapist specializing in helping women 14+ handle life's many challenges, including moments of depression, panic, mood swings, and relationship difficulties. You can schedule a free consultation with Nicole by visiting www.graceandgratitudecounseling.com.