Holiday Solitude

by Zuha Jaffar

Twinkling lights blanketed in snow, early darkness being lit up with holiday cheer, the air filled with excitement for the break students have truly earned. Stress is lifted off of us, all the bad from the past year is thrown behind us, and people are just happier.

Winter break is probably one of the most anticipated breaks, but I’ve never really found winter break to be something that is as exciting as it is painted in social media or just within the work/school community. For me, winter break (or any break for that matter) has brought up feelings of loneliness, boredom, and this feeling of in-between-ness where I feel stuck. I’m counting the days until school starts, but I also am filled with dread, not wanting to plunge back into the rigors of school.

My winter breaks are mostly spent with me thinking Shouldn’t I really be out with friends or family right now? Shouldn’t my room look different instead of looking the exact same for the past two years? Winter break is two long (and short) weeks. My mind wanders when I have too much time, I can spiral in seconds. I don’t celebrate Christmas, so I don’t have to worry about buying presents for anyone. Instead, I’m constantly stressing over what’s going to happen next. How did I do on my midterms? What did I do wrong this past year? What can I fix? Am I even capable of fixing myself? Why am I like this? I should be out with friends. The cycle starts again and I only get worse.

So instead, I try to get rid of that loneliness by doing completely unproductive things. I watch movies and read books despite the quality of their content. I fill my mind with all types of unnecessary things to get rid the temporary feeling of emptiness. I spend hours sitting in my room doing absolutely nothing, and then I go slightly crazy. I’m stuck inside this room all day only seeing my parents when they get back from work and my sister when I decide to get out of my room. My friends will usually be on vacation or, you know, celebrating the holidays, while I’m spending every day hiding in my room. With school, I have a routine that provides a sense of security, where I know exactly what I’m doing weeks in advance. Now I’m just floating and killing my brain cells with every chance possible. So, in response I get angry easily and my head hurts from hours of wasting my time and I realize that I’m an introvert desperate for human interaction.

Sometimes, occasionally I’ll go out just to see Christmas lights hung up around outlet malls and people hurrying to get everything they can. I buy more books and sit with my mom the second she gets home. Sometimes, when I get the motivation I hang out with friends who suffer from the same problem. I’ve travelled during winter break before but trips last five days, leaving the rest of break for me to challenge my mental health.

This is my winter break, a constant feeling of being stuck, where I have no sense of what’s happening next, and have basically no control. But, I have to learn that control is something I can’t always have. I need breaks, I need to be able to float instead of stay chained to the ground. There is no right way to experience things (especially when it comes to breaks) and that doing “nothing” all day is perhaps, something. As I continue to spiral in my thoughts, I’m maybe allowing me to get to understand myself better. Maybe that loneliness is a sign that I need time to myself and learn to live with that.

I’ve decided that, yes, my winter breaks stray incredibly far from the ideal, but I’m learning that it’s okay because in that, I am still ultimately happy.