We’re All Burnt Out Like an Old String of Lights

Is anyone else struggling to find their holiday spirit? Full disclosure, I know I am. I’m normally full-throttle cheer & joy by now. My decorations are usually already hung & my shopping is well underway. Holiday photos have been taken, cards ordered, outfits meticulously planned for all the fun events coming up. This year? This year is different. I feel like that one bulb that’s flickering, just barely able to get enough power to shine. And I know I am not the only one. In most of my recent conversations lately, it seems to be a common theme:

We are all burnt out like an old string of Christmas lights.

The Burnout

After almost two years of Covid-19, getting hit by Zeta and Ida, a stressful social climate, and economical challenges, how can we not be? If not personally affected by one of these things, we have people around us whose lights have dimmed because of it all. I keep hearing the same things over and over from otherwise motivated and generally happy adults: we’re tired, we’re frustrated, we’re burnt out. Sadly, even my kids seem burnt out some days. I can’t imagine being their age and being yanked out of reality and then suddenly thrown back into it. It’s like we all somehow had adjusted to the world we were living in, and now the busyness of the pre-pandemic days is barreling down the tunnel straight at us. We’re in what feels like a pandemic purgatory, we can see the light but we’re just not quite there.

The Flicker

My world flipped upside down suddenly like most of us, finding myself stuck working from home with two small kids. I watched people around me lose family they couldn’t say goodbye to, close the doors to their business, or lose their jobs, and all while people ripped each other apart on social media for differing opinions. One day, the stress and emotion from it all culminated in the form of a terrifying panic attack last April. I truly thought I was dying at that moment, in front of my kids, my neighbors, and the amazingly kind paramedics that came to my house. I don’t write about that day lightly, but the more I have spoken about it, the more I have found that I am not alone. That was the day my light first flickered, but I was surrounded by others whose fuses were blown too.

Turning the Lights Back On

Like many of you reading this, I have struggled to try to find my spark again, especially since we are on the constant roller coaster of emotion that has been 2021. And here we are on the brink of a New Year again, the last 20 months a blur. We’re all longing for things to be normal, not taking into consideration that we’re not “normal” anymore. Even things like the holidays that are supposed to be filled with joy have unfortunately changed. Things just don’t seem as shiny as they used to be blanketed in the aftermath of what we have all been through. But you better believe I am doing my best to dust them off. That’s all we can do these days – our best that we can at the moment.

The Spark

So how do we get our light back when it seems like we’re collectively struggling to stay on? Instead of stressing myself out about everything being perfect this year, I’m focusing only on making sure we’re all just happy. If there is anything these past couple of years have taught me it’s that happiness isn’t store-bought (unless it was that last thing of toilet paper, am I right?) Happiness is embracing the family that’s with us, the friends that we love, and the homes that have kept us safe. It’s sleeping in on school break, the sound of my kids singing carols, and watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation 100 more times. I am going to dig down deep, find the magic, and believe that things will get brighter again. I’m hoping in the warm glow of happiness, even just for a moment, I will feel that spark in my heart and truly shine again.

We will shine again.

Dana Wattigney
Moving from Nebraska in middle school, Dana considers herself a New Orleanian 25 years later. She now lives in Belle Chasse with her husband Ryan, 12-year-old Mila, and 8-year-old Rex. As the Executive Director of the YMCA in her community, she is very involved in all aspects of family life. You can find her on the weekend doing DIY projects, cheering on LSU or the Saints, and spending time with her family. A lover of all revelry, there is no festival, concert, or event that she won't go to! Catch her with the Krewe of Cleopatra each Mardi Gras. She gets out of town with her kids as much as possible, they enjoy the outdoors, especially the mountains & the beach. Affectionately known as "Dana Dolittle" to her friends, you can expect her to have a random animal she is trying to help at any given time. Dana loves to write & says there are no topics off limits.



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