• Lucia Joyce

All Your Feelings Are Valid

The fear is real, and it's OK. Whether you're openly admitting to feeling it, or masking it by overcompensating, or projecting it in your Facebook posts and interactions with loved ones, it's OK. You're OK.

I feel it too. I feel scared to lose what I have, scared it's too late to reach for what I want in this new upside down world. I feel scared to spend time by myself but scared to reach out too. I catch myself projecting it throughout the day, dancing around it on journal pages, vacuuming the living room and scrubbing the kitchen (for the 12th time) to distract myself from it, sitting with it bottled in--because if I give it a voice I'm sure it will be even less bearable. I sit with it long enough, it comes barreling out anyway... so I've started acknowledging it sooner--like a gremlin I used to be ashamed of, but now I dress him up and introduce him to the whole party.

The grief, and the spectrum of denial of that grief, is real too, and more than OK to be feeling in just your way. It comes in and out for me. One minute I'm happily breathing through a yoga series poolside; an hour later I'm letting myself sob, watching my favorite pundits react to poor crisis management and even poorer reporting. Poor decisions aren't just causing frustration--they're causing death. The crying is like an earthquake: a ripple of quick, breathless sobs in my chest, followed by a few tears of relief. My breath evens as I cradle my face in my palms. All you can do at that point is let it be OK to cry.

At turns I surrender to hopelessness, too. I sit with the fact that I can't do much to support the overworked medical community, or pay my share of rent this month, or get a new job in a field I'm qualified for... but dialogue with hopelessness goes nowhere, fast.

Me: "This sucks."

Hopelessness: "..."

Me: "Screw you!"

Hopelessness: "..."

Me: (high pitched and sniffling) "I hate you." :*(

Hopelessness: "..."

Me: "Cool..."

Hopelessness is like a gas station taquito: it's always there, always kind of tempting, and devoid of satisfaction of any kind. But still, there it always is.

The deep, almost delirious feelings of hope and happiness? Valid also. Laughing at things that weren't funny before? Saying goofy sh*t you never used to say? Cackling like a hyena at the same cat-based TikTok over and over? It's fine. Best to roll with it.

That overwhelming sense of gratitude? For every little comfort you picked up on the way to here? For every meal, made at home or delivered swiftly by an average Joe working overtime on some app? For plants to water and pets to feed and sparkling streaming programs that reveal the human condition or HD ocean mammals or the latest unthinkably complex scandal? For the ability to connect instantly with anyone, whether they're up the street or 12 timezones away? For the time to properly meander in a conversation, online course, or silly game? That gratitude is real too. We are lucky, living human beings.

The days are long and filled with feelings: uncertainty, contentment, disenchantment, curiosity, awe. All valid. All delightfully human. All being felt the world over, by Italian uncles, staunch Republicans, transgender rights activists, Chinese medical students, rooftop violinists, K-Pop stars, news anchors and their cats. It's all valid. It's all OK. We're all here, together, processing our emotions in real time. Doing what we can to stay healthy and levelheaded and of service to the world.

Your feelings, and thoughts, and hearts are valid.

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