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Mental Health

Practicing the Art of Forgiveness in a Pandemic

I have been struggling with forgiveness for the longest time. Sure, it’s easy to forgive someone who accidentally broke your pencil or was a few minutes late for lunch. But how do you forgive someone who broke your trust?

Months ago, I had this person in my life who consistently left me feeling disappointed, emotionally hurt me and gave me the impression that they did not care for or value me as a person. The only solution I found to this problem was to cut this person off completely, but it truly did not resolve anything. Despite the emotional toll this person gave me, not having this person in my life gave me an even bigger emotional toll because I really cared about them.

Some time later, this person came back in my life asking for my forgiveness. At first, I was angry and refused. Time apart has a way of brewing up negative emotions. This person apologized and tried to make it up to me numerous times over the course of a few months, but I rarely acknowledged it. A part of me did not want to forgive.

However, it was mainly because I did not know how to forgive. I felt that forgiving would disregard the pain that this person caused me to go through. I also felt that this person did not really deserve it because I did not believe they changed.

Although this was true, I felt that this situation was still getting to me. It was causing me to hold in so much anger. At times, my anger turned me into a bitter person, when I’m truly not a bitter person to begin with. 

Living through the COVID-19 pandemic helped me realize that forgiveness is not always about the other person. I found that forgiveness is a way of letting go: letting go of the situation, the anger, and the sadness, and no longer letting it have an effect on me. I thought that I had to heal first in order to forgive. When in fact, forgiveness is a part of the healing process and may be the final step to it.

I can’t control what happened in the past because it already happened. Although, what I can control is my reaction towards it and how it is affecting me. I started putting my energy towards what I can control rather than what I can’t.

With so much negativity in the world right now, especially in the media, everyone is struggling with something in this pandemic. This person lost their job and their upcoming internship. I have also been going through personal issues of my own. Each of us needs all the support we can get right now.

So I forgave this person.

Last weekend, we spoke on the phone, and I told them. At first, they did not want me to say it unless I truly meant it and thought that they deserved it. However, I explained that it was more for me than it was for them. This person was still extremely grateful, and I could sense the weight lifted off their shoulders through the phone.

Then, in one of my live online classes for my Entrepreneurship minor that Monday, my professor asked if any of us did something exciting or out of the ordinary this weekend. Not thinking much of it, I typed in the class chat, “I forgave someone.”

Plenty of other students had made comments, but my professor had caught what I said and reflected on it. He said that what I did was extremely important and courageous. He also told us that an old high school friend of his passed away that same weekend because of the COVID-19 virus. He did not quite end on a positive note with this person and wished he had reached out before they died. He was advising my class that if they have the opportunity to do what I did, to forgive, then do it because you may never get the chance again.

I cried as he was saying this during class. Not just because I felt terrible for my professor, but if my friend passed away without knowing that I forgave them, I would be crushed.

Additionally, I got into a disagreement with a friend who lives in Europe before the pandemic. We were able to resolve it, but my anger got the best of me, and I was not able to speak to them and give them a hug in person. They are graduating this semester, and they went back to Europe. Unfortunately, I don’t know if I’ll be able to see them again.

In a world of uncertainty, you truly do not know what will happen or what the future holds. Life is so precious and it’s short–sometimes we forget to acknowledge that. So if you have that opportunity to forgive, please try to do it. Like my professor said, you may never get the chance to do it again.

A Culinary Institute of America Alumni '17 and a current student at Rutgers University studying Journalism and Media Studies with a minor in Entrepreneurship. Outside of school and work, I like going on different food adventures, spending time with friends and family, writing, cooking, baking, taking pictures, and volunteering at the local animal shelter. I also like to spend my time empowering other women through my sorority, Sigma Psi Zeta by contributing and planning events that go hand in hand with our philanthropy, "To Combat the Violence Against Women." My dream is to travel around the world and become a food journalist!
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