The Pressure of Holidays


I know you are feeling the pressure of the holidays this time of year. It is the 4th of July or the equivalent summer celebration, wherever you live. I know you can’t escape it. There is a pressure to celebrate, have fun and to be happy. There is a call to be active and enjoy yourself. Everyone says so.

unrecognizable person taking photo of family dinner on smartphone
Taking family photos
Photo by Askar Abayev on

The Forced Facade

The thing is that social media can really mess up reality. You see the happy pictures of people having fun and wonder why you are the only one who isn’t having as much fun. But here’s the thing. A lot of people create an illusion of joy, but they really are miserable.

It was that way in my first marriage My ex-father in law was a cruel and domineering person and he expected to control everyone. He pressured and forced us to always show up at some celebration or other. My ex-husband never ever said ‘no’, feeling powerless and initially, I tried to comply and go along with the plan.

I am not speaking of the stress of family gatherings which puts people spending a short time together, on edge. I speak of perpetual and intimidatory abuse. So it was all for show. A facade.

My ex-father in law would threaten, scare and bully us into posing for family photos, even though there was so much and seriously deep, resentment in the family. He hollered at us to smile and it would confuse the children because they did not sense happiness and wondered why we should pretend.

So there is a lot of pretense out there.

toy doll of woman dressed in dress
The fake smile of a plastic doll
Photo by Tara Winstead on

Holiday Sadness and the Process

But let me tell you now, it is ok to feel this sadness when you are ‘supposed’ to be happy and celebrating. This loneliness, while you choose to spend the summer season quietly and doing things you like to do, is natural. If you’re missing someone or you regret something, it is alright to cry and be sad for a bit. Your feelings are valid. You see, sometimes, it is precisely this sort of pressure to feel a certain way that triggers those other feelings. After all, we are human and we cannot feel complete without a real range of emotions.

As you isolate bad memories, you begin a process of clearing out the old. In this sense it is an exercise in spring cleaning. And just like when you spring clean your room or home, a lot of dust, dirt and old stuff gets unearthed and hopefully, thrown out.

In effect, there is an internal cleansing. A processing of pain and of toxic experiences.

But what if we feel stuck and haven’t moved anywhere? What if everyone expects us to move on but we are still stuck in one place? We need to tell ourselves, that is ok too. To be gentle with ourselves and realize that we need more time. We will eventually get there, so long as we keep on moving.

woman sitting on wooden planks
A woman sits in quiet contemplation by a lake
Photo by Keenan Constance on

The Result

But, once the cleansing is done, the result is bright and clear. This is what I think will happen to you when you unload and clear your thoughts. You can and indeed need, to tell yourself that you are ready to honor the new phase. The bittersweet aspects of our lives are essential to who we are. No one really thinks that human beings are simple beings. So we should celebrate any improvement, any change for the better.

Some seasons are harder than others. We can’t predict what the year will bring. We can’t predict what happens outside of us. The only thing we can control is our response. So right now, care for yourself and do what nurtures you.

self care isn t selfish signage
A motivational poster reminding us that self care isn’t selfish
Photo by Madison Inouye on


The essence of this piece is this message. That we should not be pressured into feeling a certain way because it is ‘supposed’ to be this way. The main thing is to be gentle with yourself. Celebrate the small improvements, no matter how small they may be. Life is a roller coaster and you have the courage to ride it. And next season, life will bring new possibilities and opportunities. So experience the seasons in any way that is possible. No pressure. Just simple pleasures.

And then when you are ready, go find the people who truly love you and care about your welfare. The people who want to see you happy and not just party-types. Then, you will truly find your place in the sun.

silhouette photography of group of people jumping during golden time
A group of people truly enjoying nature and each other
Photo by Belle Co on

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