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The smell of warm cookies and snow are some of the most wonderful things you experience as a child. The holidays are the most exciting time of the year when you are 10, and everything feels magical. The break from school accompanied by presents, movies and a few days to see your friends and family could put any child into the mood for celebration.

But as you get older, these same things start to lose a little bit of magic and start to serve as a reminder of the things in your own life that you wish were better.

For some reason, the holidays seem like the time of year where everyone is meant to put on the façade of having a perfect life. People seem to be so happy with the wonderful people around them, their great new job or academic achievements and that they have everything they could have ever wanted.

But for most of us, our lives are quite the opposite. The end of school brings the harsh reality of not doing well on college exams, and earning poor grades can leave a sour tone to the end of the school year. Trouble at home becomes a forbidden topic, and the need to display the perfect family on holiday cards becomes a bigger priority than talking and working through the pain.

Maybe you just had a falling out with your best friends and now have to sit at home and scroll through photos of the people you would've done anything for, existing without you. Or maybe your significant other has been mistreating you, and no number of gifts, dinners or praise will be able to calm your feelings that the person you once loved isn't who you thought they were.

All of the ways that life could go wrong seem to come to a head at this time, and the holidays can be less joyful and more of a reminder that your life isn't going the way you want it to.

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Having to sit and watch a movie about a happy family, a group of best friends or a love story that is so "perfect,” can leave you feeling quite the opposite of the intended "feel good" storyline.

I used to think I was the only one who thought of the holiday season like this, who, despite the warmth, seemed to be bitterly aware of the ice-cold winter. But after talking to friends, it seemed clear that they all had been feeling the same inexplicable dread to face the things we have been sweeping under the rug all year.

COVID-19 is making sure everyone goes through this now, and the isolation that is coming from the pandemic is forcing many of us to spend the holidays alone. For me, thinking of the close family and friends that I haven't seen in almost two years makes me feel empty and has put a damper on my perception of the holidays during this time.

Isolation is hard enough as it is, but during the final weeks of December, when the backbone of the season is your loved ones, the effects are even more greatly felt. However, this alone time does not have to be inherently negative and could be a good time for us to work through our internal feelings.

We need to take this time for ourselves and to reflect on what we want out of our lives. With the craziness of the world today, we rarely have a minute to sit back and think about what things in our life we want to change or what things are going well and are making us truly happy. This isolation can be used for positive change, as reflecting at the end of the year can allow us to see where we went wrong and how we can approach the new year to get what we truly want.

So, this holiday season, make a plan, eat some pie, say I love you, but most importantly, remember that you survived 2020 and that you can do anything you set your mind to.

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Alexandra Straumann is a junior at Florida State University double majoring in Criminology and Political Science. She is so excited to be apart of HerCampus FSU and explore her passion for writing and cannot wait to see what HerCampus has in store; happy reading! instagram: @alex_straumann
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