My Plans Got Canceled and I Didn’t Get to Say Goodbye

I‘d be lying if I said I handled quarantine well. While the last eight weeks have allowed me to expand my podcast/book collection, become a whiz in the kitchen, get creative with at-home workouts, and even land a temporary new job, my days have been equally filled with spans of depression, staying in bed until noon, binging on brownies and ice cream, and spending way too much time scrolling through the explore feed of Instagram. I’ve always committed my online presence to authenticity and transparency, but I think I had my followers fooled — thriving in quarantine, enjoying my sweet treats, and taking daily walks with my dog. Quite honestly, I’ve been miserable. I’ve been doing everything I can to cope with COVID destroying any sense of normalcy I once had, to no avail.

I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in December. While somewhat unplanned, I graduated a semester early, and I was eager at the chance to finally catch a break from school. I had the option of starting my full time career early in February, but I decided to push my start date to July in hopes of making the most out of a six month gap before entering the “real world”. Without an inkling of doubt that a global pandemic would cease play, I planned a month long, solo European excursion. I was thrilled to plan a trip by myself — no rules, no one holding me back, and tons of independence. I spent hours of research mapping out and planning my itinerary, from high tea in London, to a Dutch canal tour in Amsterdam. While I had friends and family voicing their apprehensions over my safety, never in a million years did I think corona-virus would be the reason to stop me. Blindly ignoring everyone’s concerns, I brushed off the idea of a negligible flu halting my European excursion. But four days before my embark, President Trump declared a ban on European travel and I had no choice but to cancel my plans; just like everybody else.

According to psychologist Ruth Kudzi, when closure doesn’t happen, we can be left questioning, “what if?” We no longer own the narrative, which can make us feel insecure and left in a limbo-like state where we are questioning all of our behaviours. Shortly after quarantine started, I found myself in a “black hole” of sorts with no light at the end of the tunnel. Not only were my plans cancelled, but also, my every day activities were stripped away from me. By the end of March, I felt like a shell of who I once was.

But, there comes a point when you have to accept that you’re not always going to get closure. In a Metro UK post, psychologist Rachel Maclynn explains, ‘Some of us are predisposed to hold onto the past, whereas others are very much “in the moment” or focus mostly on the future. She adds, “In order to move on with our lives, we need to close that chapter and start a new one, so that we can focus on the present and future.”

It’s up to me to take ownership and direct a newly revised path, even though it hurts. After spending weeks feeling sorry for myself, I decided it’s time to get back on my grind and face the fact my plans got cancelled and I didn’t get to say goodbye. Listed below are a few realizations I concluded after eight weeks of quarantining in a state of confusion, numbness, and spiritlessness.

You’re Not The Only One

As cliche as this sounds, it gave me comfort knowing everyone else is in the same boat. In fact, it was much worse for couples who had to cancel weddings, pregnant mother’s who couldn’t throw baby showers, seniors who couldn’t walk the stage, and athletes with cancelled seasons. The list goes on, but it took me an embarrassingly long amount of time to step outside of myself and recognize that everyone had to put their life on pause. This week, I’ve allowed myself grace. I’m choosing to grow from gratitude and vocalize my appreciation for my friends and family during these unprecedented times.

Don’t Compare Your Significance to Their Success

To contrast my previous point, being on a ‘level playing field’ with everyone else stirred insecurity and comparison within me. With all the extra screen time, I found myself asking, “Even in quarantine, how does she stay so fit?” or “Even in quarantine, how are my peers still landing amazing full-time offers and earning scholastic honors/achievements?”

It’s imperative to quit comparing your valleys to someone else’s mountain — so don’t diminish what you have to offer and what you’ve already accomplished.

Be happy for other’s successes. Not everything is a competition.

And, lastly, as we all know, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn is just a highlight reel! We don’t know what’s behind the scenes of that airbrushed mirror selfie.

Delayed Doesn’t Mean Denied

I’m an ‘all or nothing’ person. So when plans don’t follow through, I’m one to chuck them out the window and never look at them again. I’m realizing though, this mentality doesn’t get you very far when things get tough. I’ve committed to patience and belief that good things are meant to happen when the timing is right. Maybe for some reason, my Europe trip wasn’t supposed to happen in March. But you know what? When I finally get to stamp that passport, I will be so ecstatic to take the trip with even more resources saved up, a solid foundation of tourism knowledge, and maybe even have a travel buddy tag along.

Even when I feel like life doesn’t make sense, I find strength in scripture. I encourage you with this verse: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11)

There is purpose in pain, and I know God is using situations like mine, and so many others, to teach us to lean in more, trust in His timing, and use our responses to influence and lead others. Like Pastor Craig Groeschel said in a recent podcast, people would rather follow a leader that’s always real than one that’s always right.

Discipline in the Detour

More than anything, this strange period of time has forced me to introspectively evaluate my shortcomings. I admit I suck at patience, and I especially don’t do well with cancelled plans. My “Plan A” didn’t account for a Plan B or C, so it’s been a challenge to pivot my life in a new direction when I don’t know what I’m reaching for yet. Nonetheless, I am optimistic for the future, and I’m determined to come out of this with a greater sense of self, enhanced resiliency to unforeseen circumstances, and an ignited spark of motivation to attain my goals.

Stay safe, friends! Here’s to demonstrating grit, growth, and gratitude for the remainder of 2020.

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Jenna Felsen

Jenna Felsen

Empowering young people through dreaming, doing, and discovering.

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