“There is no greater agony than bearing the untold story inside you.”

– Maya Angelou

As we all know, sometimes life can be particularly cruel. Our current situation certainly tops the scale as beyond believable! It’s challenging to process all the facets of what is happening now in our lives and world while living through the dramatic impact it is having on so many! At times, it’s overwhelming to the point of being unbearable—and for most of us, this is likely the hardest reality we will ever face!

If you are a high school or college senior watching the culmination of your hard work and efforts, with all the promises of celebratory experiences evaporating, please realize you are not alone and many empathize and share your pain. You earned and deserve those promised and planned reward celebrations!  Most of us who have graduated from high school or college comprehend the plans that have consumed your thoughts for months, if not years. This cruel twist of fate is a reality that has been imposed on you with few options.

Realize, no matter what you’ve been deprived of, that everyone agrees this situation is not fair and it brings with it deep pain and disappointment. We empathize with your pain and anger and we understand that you are entitled to express those feelings, find constructive ways to process them and look for creative options. 

My best advice is, no matter how much it hurts, let yourself grieve those losses in private and in public. Don’t suppress the emotion, get it out. At some point in life, everyone faces grief—it’s part of the human experience. There is nothing about grief that makes you want to embrace it, it’s gritty pain and it hurts. But you need to remember that loss is a reality and can be tricky to resolve. While you may logically and intellectually dissect the circumstances and come to some type of rational conclusion, it’s the emotional component that is complex on many levels and has a timeframe unique to itself.

Know that emotions operate on a different plane and they can become a yoke you carry for a lifetime if you try to ignore them. The only healthy way to move forward is to forge through the hard parts to regain your sense of control and begin to once again focus on the future. In case you are not versed in the stages of grief, it takes many different forms: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and, if you are successful, eventually acceptance, which looks unique to each individual.  Knowledge is power, but be aware that emotions tend to have layers and connections that form a path all their own. It’s typical to feel like you are dealing well one minute, only to find a fresh reminder that causes your eyes to fill with tears as you sink back into frustration, anger or depression. We have to realize these are normal human reactions to loss.  

I hope you know just how resilient you are! You have suffered failure, disappointment and loss before, yes, but perhaps not on this scale. You would not be at the pinnacle of success that you are now without paying some hard dues along the way. Try to live in the moment and appreciate each moment for the beauty it brings. If you need a solid reminder of who you are, just review the results of your Personality and Skills reports and realize those strengths, talents, and skills are the pillars of your resilience. They support your emotional strength and your ability to solve challenges in new and creative ways. They are the foundation of who you are and will help propel you forward. Yes, it will involve unplanned changes and alterations to your plan, but you are equipped to do that well. Even something as simple as reading this blog shows the desire for positivity, growth and wisdom in this moment.

You need to understand that grieving is unique to each person; it is a normal human reaction and a universally shared experience. My best advice on putting your situation in perspective is to reach out to someone else needing help or support. The very act of  coupling that action of empathy with offering support and healing strategies will propel forward movement in your life. Studies substantiate that helping others will boost your sense of happiness, health and sense of wellbeing. When you combine both helping others while healing yourself, something mystical happens in a shift of perspective and how you engage and cope with reality. You gain a sense of control and shed the sense of being wronged. It gives one an attitude of gratefulness and empowerment to replace the one of disappointment. Gratitude brings with it peace and joy that are essential to healing the human spirit. Their synergy reignites our spark and motivation for creating our ‘‘new” future. This, in turn, kick-starts your creativity, helping you determine how to create your new normal. 

Another surefire method of jumpstarting forward movement is experiencing a healing strategy from the ideas mentioned below. Dynamic powerful therapies have value by bringing us satisfaction and moments of happiness. Thankfully there are so many paths for consideration. If you like to journal, do it. If you like to talk, do that. Prayer and meditation are extremely effective. Other therapeutic activities include experiences with art, music, recreation, nature, hobbies, participating in a support group or reaching out to friends in common circumstances. The more you can integrate into your life the better! Bringing control back will anchor you and catapult you forward. As you process losses and lay them down, planning for the future is renewed and the heaviness of grief begins to lift.

How you handle this experience will be the greatest predictor of your success in life. You are at a monumental crossroad that many of us have never had to endure. Will you choose positivity or bitterness? How will this crisis affect you long term? Your actions and attitude will determine what happens next.

If you feel like you are stuck or not moving forward as quickly as you would like, and you’ve tried ideas such as those suggested above, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Talking with a therapist can have a profound effect on healing. Just hearing an objective therapist validate your thoughts and feelings is very powerful. If you feel like you need more support, seek it. Even medications are helpful in boosting your emotional rebound, especially during a season of traumatic transition.

Just like the present success you worked for, It’s up to you to recreate what you want in this new paradigm. You are resilient and you can craft the next move confidently by trusting yourself and enlisting the supports you need. You have the power within and you have earned the pursuit of your dreams! We are all cheering you on!