I understand why they exist—those prompts on social media to celebrate what you’ve accomplished. We can be tempted to brush off our blessings, and our joy is often heightened when we share it with others. But what if you look back over the past weeks, months, or even years, and all you can see is a collage of difficulty? What if it’s hard to see anything, because the lines between today, tomorrow, and yesterday are obscured by chronic pain, depression, or tragedy?
I’ve heard it said that emotional accomplishments are worth celebrating as much as physical accomplishments—that if you don’t have a degree, an engagement ring, or a new house to boast of, but you grew in contentment, hope, and your capacity to love, that is an equally wonderful thing. But what if you feel like you have nothing to show for in those areas either?
What if you feel like your struggles have broken you apart instead of making you stronger, and it’s impossible to imagine being remade into anything that resembles an objectively better person? What if you feel like you haven’t grown as a person, but that you shrank under the weight of your circumstances? What if you feel like you wasted most of your time and squandered opportunities to learn and to heal?
In other words, what if the only thing you can say about the past year is, “I survived it”?
My response to that: Survival is not a small thing. To keep letting each new day greet you even when you feel like you have nothing to offer it, and to endure circumstances that feel hopeless at times, is not insignificant. It even suggests an unspoken—perhaps unrecognized—hope running through it all.
There is grace in the arrival of a new day (or moment) because it comes regardless of whether or not we feel like we’ve earned it. Sunrises will occur outside your window, and they will not cease if you fail to sufficiently better yourself or prove that you’re worthy of beauty. I think that perhaps none of us are truly deserving of the beauty in life and yet we all have a right to it. You may feel woefully distant from it right now, but that doesn’t mean you have less worth than anyone else.
I know that it can be hard to believe this—I find it hard to believe even as I write these words. But if I believe in the inherent value of every life and I believe that the past doesn’t have to define the future, then I have to believe that these things apply not just to other people’s lives but to mine too, even when they don’t feel true.
You may be sitting alone on the couch right now. You may be feeling numb, confused, or full of sorrow and shame. You may be afraid of what tomorrow holds, but you’re not the only one.
Resist the lie that the rest of the world is celebrating and you’re the only one feeling lonely. Resist the temptation to believe that a feeling of hopelessness always corresponds to a reality of hopelessness. If at all possible, try to believe that this moment does not have to define the rest of your life, let alone tomorrow.
It is never too soon or too late to begin gathering the courage to reach out for help or to call a friend. But if all you can do is go to sleep and then wake up again, that’s all right. If the only good thing you can say about today is that you survived it, that’s not nothing. If you cannot find it in you to believe tomorrow can be bright, but you’ve accepted the fact that a new day is coming and life is continuing on, that is enough.
It is enough.
You are not weak for wanting or needing support. If you’re seeking professional help, we encourage you to use TWLOHA’s FIND HELP Tool. If you reside outside of the US, please browse our growing International Resources database. You can also text TWLOHA to 741741 to be connected for free, 24/7 to a trained Crisis Text Line counselor. If it’s encouragement or a listening ear that you need, email our team at [email protected].