How to Handle Self-Doubt Around the Holidays
Trust me, I get it. We all think that the holidays are the best time of the year - the festive music, warm cider drinks and large, over-sized sweaters are always a hit - but they are also be stressful. How to do you deal with the stress and overcome the imposter syndrome when you're about to spend way too much time with your closest family and friends?
For some of you, the answer will probably be not well. Those around you are sharing their success through Facebook posts, Instagram uploads, Twitter updates and, if you are really lucky, they're still sending a yearly roundup of how awesome life is going for them. It starts to get you thinking, what the heck have I done this year? What do I have to celebrate? Of which accomplishments can I be most proud?
Right about now, you are probably starting to hyperventilate. Your palms are getting sweaty and you are wondering how you can fake an illness to get out of having to spend time with all these people because just the idea of them has you doubting yourself. Am I right?
This really should be the most wonderful time of the year for you. And it can be - if you allow it to be. Here are a few tricks I've learned after sitting through one too many uncomfortable family get togethers where I've been asked what I'm doing now and if I though it would stick this time.
First, stop comparing yourself to others. Congratulate your cousin on her promotion and celebrate your friend's engagement. Be happy for them! Stop thinking that where they are in life has anything to do with your own journey. The only mile marker on which you need to focus is the one you set for yourself. Did you want a promotion this year or to be engaged? If not, then don't think of yourself as a failure because you aren't where so-and-so is right now. Focus on where you are and why it makes you happy.
Second, be prepared for everyone to give you their opinion. I know you aren't asking for it, but Aunt Sally is going to tell you what she think you should be doing with your life right now. Heck, your Mom might even share where she wants your personal life go. You can get depressed that you aren't at those places, you can get mad that people aren't respecting your own life choices or you can thank them for caring so much and move on. Personally, I'd say go with option three. You don't need to be stressed and you don't need to feel like anything less than the awesome person you already are.
Third, remember you are your own person. The only person that decides the direction of your life is you. You are where you are today because of the actions you've taken. And yeah, maybe you haven't accomplished all of your goals just yet, but that doesn't mean you aren't doing things to get you there. Celebrate the work you've done this year to move you closer to your goal. Still looking for a a new apartment? That's okay. Just remember to share the steps you've taken so that if you want to share the progress you're making towards your dreams, you can.
Fourth, have friends on stand-by. If you know the holidays can be rough, ask a few friends if you can lean on them when you start to feel sad. Sometimes you'll be able to lift yourself out of the funk on your own. A quick reminder that you are exactly where you want to be, living life on your terms, if enough to knockoff the pressure and stress being piled on by those around you. Other times, there aren't enough nice things you can tell yourself to lift you out of the funk and away from the third box of Christmas cookies. Phone a friend or shoot them a quick text. They'll help remind you just how amazing you are, despite what those around you might be trying to convince you.
Finally, have an escape plan. There are some people you can identify as "small doses" people. These are the people you can only handle for short periods of time. If you find yourself surrounded by such people at the holidays, have a graceful exit strategy in mind. Don't stay at someone's house if you know you can't handle being around them 24/7. Book a hotel or find alternate accommodations. When the conversation starts to drive you batty and you fill the need to runaway, tell your hosts that you have another engagement (even if you don't) so that you skip out early without having to answer any more questions.
The Holidays can be fun. They can even be enjoyable. It's all about how you view the situation. Choose to find them as an opportunity to re-connect with loved ones and take steps to ensure that you head into the new year feeling fun and festive rather than frazzled and full of fear.
Here's to happy holidays,