Holiday Depression

For us resume writers, holiday season is a bit bittersweet one. Of course the lovely holiday displays, seemingly happy citizenry and overall festive atmosphere can put you in a great mood. But on the professional side, the holidays mean silent phones and emails, few-and-far-in-between clients, and a hope that January 1st comes right away.

With the holiday season falling at the end of the year, it runs right into the natural period of assessment and reflection. I don’t know, perhaps that was the intent. But from what I can see, not only when looking in a mirror, but looking on the faces of shoppers as well as those I know, the net result of this holiday/reflection/assessment period does not normally yield much positivity. After all, how many of us usually get to the end of the year with an ability to give one’s self the “all thumbs up”? Most of us make plans at the start of the year that for one reason or another go awry. For those that lose loved ones during the year, you begin to feel some separation as the calendar is about to flip and you feel you’re leaving them behind into the annals of history. Be it professional or personal, December usually arrives with several aspects of our lives inadequately addressed or resolved.

Now enter the holidays, where the good people on Madison Avenue ensure we know what the year-end festivities should be for us and (here’s the kicker) convinces us it IS for everyone else. It usually looks something like the perfect family sharing gifts they can easily afford under a tree, or the family traveling in their new car to go see the retired parents with hot cocoa or a fine single-malt scotch waiting for them. These perfectly crafted facades we are bombarded with every year around this time is why many become so distraught.

* “Where is MY perfect little nuclear family?”
* “Why has MY professional career stalled?”
* “Why the hell can’t I surprise MY wife with a Lexus with a big red bow in the driveway?”
(my all-time favorite, as though everyone can make a $50,000 purchase without consulting their mate, much less any input on the car’s make/model, color, accessories, etc.)

I believe it is when these two phenomenon collide that people get distraught. I believe this is why families argue MORE during the holidays and why suicide attempts spike. And trust me “¦ the cold weather theme doesn’t help. Depending upon your perspective, it is either cozy or depressing. Dwelling on the not-so-perfect aspects of one’s life while pummeled with images of what everyone else seems to have is a recipe for crashing self-esteem and a feeling of hopelessness.

How do I plan to combat this?

* I like to recognize the end of the calendar year and the holiday season as two different events. My assessment of my personal and professional life should have nothing to do with Christmas and what it represents.

* I must affirm that there is no such thing as “too late” when it comes to my goals and plans. If there was a goal that was left unreached in 2013, I must look to 2014 to achieve it and not dwell on the fact that this goal got away from me this past year. In other words, I need to use the end of the year more to look to the hope of future than to dwell on the disappointment of the past.

* I keep my “common sense” glasses on to see through the smoke and mirrors of the advertising industry. I don’t need to surprise the wife a Lexus to be a success, nor do I need to buy my nieces and nephews $200 shoes to prove my love to them (they know Uncle William better to think that would happen anyway).

We can all enjoy our holiday seasons much more if we just realize that it is not a time for comparing your life and accomplishments to that of others. But it takes a conscious effort because everything around us communicates otherwise. So, ignore the ads, accept and own the current state of affairs, and look to the promise of the future. I know that I plan to enjoy MY holiday season, no matter how many projects I left undone (and there are quite a few!)