Ask Natalie by Natalie Bencivenga

Ask Natalie: Friend wants to have a wedding in August but you are feeling unsure about attending? Anxiety overtaking you?

DEAR NATALIE: I have a friend getting married in August and she is hellbent on a “normal” wedding. Me and my other friend are the only bridesmaids. WE both have young kids and are worried about even participating. She said the venue is assuring her that they are not worried. They are going to be “lax” on the social distancing rules, too. We tried to talk her into postponing it but she doesn’t want to hear it. She’s “over” this and doesn’t think Covid-19 is a big deal anymore. This is the larger issue. What do we do? — SAY I DON’T

DEAR SAY I DON’T: There is no “normal” to go back to. Until there is a vaccine or treatment, Covid-19 isn’t going to just disappear. So, we need to be sensible, understanding and be willing to put things on hold for the greater good. From what I’ve been hearing from some of my friends in the event industry, it doesn’t sound like a wedding right now would even be fun. No dancing, sitting staggered at tables, limited bars, wearing masks… you get the idea. People may not want to come to a wedding if they take care of elderly parents for fear of spreading it to them. They may not want to come if they are immunocompromised or live with someone who is. They may not have the money to spend on wedding gifts because of the economic weight being placed on so many, and they may not have the money to travel to the event, either. Some are depressed, anxious or reticent to even be in public with others right now. She may want to have a wedding but what kind of wedding will it really be? I would stick to your convictions on this one. If you don’t feel comfortable going, I would just tell her that you are not going to go. She could also just have a very small ceremony and then throw a larger party next summer. But, the truth is, you can’t control what she decides to do. You can only make a decision that is right for the health and wellbeing of you and your family.  

DEAR NATALIE: The news has been horrifying to say the least. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do and I feel the weight of everything on me. Between constant coverage of Covid-19 and now all of the police brutality, I’m not sure how to handle it. I want to help, but I feel paralyzed. Do you have any suggestions for the sensory overload? — ANXIOUS ALL DAY

DEAR ANXIOUS ALL DAY: Sometimes, our anxiety is the result of feeling helpless. It’s like we have all this energy bottled up with no place to go. The best thing you can do is be a part of solutions. Research and donate to funds that support equity in your community. Share those resources with others. Make masks for community members. Bake cookies or bring flowers to elderly neighbors and friends. Volunteer to help with voter registration. Do whatever feels right to take the energy and make it constructive.  You are also allowed to take a break from social media and the news. It is OK to find a space for rest in the midst of everything. Reach out for mental health support if you are finding that things are just too overwhelming for you. There is no shame in asking for help. Remember, you cannot pour from an empty cup. 

Natalie's Networking Tip of the Week: As communities enter “yellow” and “green” phases, don’t feel pressured into meeting people in person. You have every right to set boundaries that work for you in the middle of this pandemic. If you feel more comfortable on Zoom or a phone call, let your contacts know that. Most likely, they’ll be relieved that you brought it up first.

Please send your questions to Natalie Bencivenga to Follow her on Twitter @NatalieBenci and on Instagram @NatalieBenci