Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Ho! Ho! Holly Cr@p!

The holidays are upon us again: the Christmas tree is standing in the room so proud and festive, the presents are under the tree, the lights are twinkling joyfully, and the little black dress hangs ready, freshly ironed, for another party. You are probably thinking about your menu for the annual Christmas feast, more gifts, the fireplace being (not) delivered, and more cleaning. But somewhere in the middle of it all you want to break down and cry. The feeling just sneaks up on you, the stress having been building up for a while: it just creeps into your head and overwhelms your entire being. And suddenly the Christmas cheer and glitter and laughter--like the early morning mists over the mountains--dissolve themselves into a full-blown depression, and all you want to do is stab yourself in the eye with the tree topper. I don't know how it happens. It just does. And I have a feeling I am not the only one susceptible to holiday melancholy.

Is it that we start retrospecting on the year past: our accomplishments, our failures...? I don't know about you, but all the little things that bothered me all year, all my imperfections, all disappointments grow into immeasurable proportions and blow up in my face. Suddenly, I realize that I have no accomplishments to speak of, I've achieved nothing; I've only angered and annoyed people, pushed family and friends away with my incessant perfectionist comments, smug opinions, and impeccable taste. What I've lost in friends, I gained in weight. I smile and hold the door for people I can't stand and show the door to the people I love. I have pretended to be a tower of strength, a model of an enlightened human being, a brilliant, shiny success, when really all this time I've been secretly dealing with low-spirits and perfect lack of confidence. What a sham!

The good news is that now that I have recognized the symptoms and identified the malady, I can work on an effective treatment. The first small accomplishment: first person singular. Dispensing with the impersonal second person, first person plural, or--worse yet--third person narrative means I am ready to own up to my issued. They belong to me! The "I" makes them mine!

Next, I need to think positive: pink frosting, sugar canes, and marshmallow pies. What have I accomplished? I have
  • come to important realizations (ie, that I am my worst enemy, that there is no one in the department interested in working with my thesis, that people barely tolerate me but that I need them more than I would like to admit, that despite my newly-found love of mankind I don't like them enough to enjoy teaching, that I am overeducated as it is and should quit before I go completely gray and the economy worsens even more so that the only jobs available would be for flipping burgers at the neighborhood fast-food joint... oh, wait! I was supposed to be positive! Darn! It's more difficult than I thought. I am Eeyore!);
  • made important decisions (ie, to quit grad school and get a real job for a change because any further investment in education will be detrimental to my sanity, my family, my "career" goals, and to my bank account);
  • overcome my fear of commitment (ie. bought a beautiful house in a quiet neighborhood and a good school district so my child can attend a decent public school, and finally married the man I live with, climb with, ski with, and tolerate... ok, fine! Love! There! I said it!);
  • improved my quality of life (ie. read books I actually enjoyed reading, unleashed my creativity in art, design, interior design, and cooking);
  • climbed better and harder ('nough said!)...
I should stop here before I lose my faithful reader, but at least the exercise got my spirits up a bit. Try it! I promise it will make you feel better and perhaps even dispel some of the holiday gloom. Now it's time to take an hour to yourself: no work, no school, no shopping, no cleaning... just you, a good book, a cup of coffee, and a cozy couch. And during this holiday season remember to enjoy and appreciate the little things that life has to offer! Happiness comes from inside of you, and it turns out it has nothing to do with external circumstances.  So look deep down and find your happiness. Merry Christmas to all!