2 Ways to Thrive When Loneliness Tries to Take Over

From me and mine to you and yours.

I’ve seen and heard this phrasing a lot over the past few days as others share their holiday gatherings and photos with significant others. And it will be a giant billboard reminder as the new year begins in a few days.

To you and yours. A small, simple phrase, that at times, can be a huge blow. Some of us don’t have a “yours”…

Being single can suck any point of the year. But during the holidays? During the holidays being the single one is that giant zit that appears on your forehead for picture day. You try and cover it up, try and find ways to make the throbbing, aggravation disappear before needing to be in public, but regardless of your valiant attempts, you are still reminded of it. Married friends gravitate towards other couples to spend the holidays with, and even though you understand that these friendships change over time, and that being in different stages of life is inevitable, it still leaves you feeling like a bit of an after-thought as the single friend. Family constantly asks you if there is a special person. You’ll see picture after picture of your friends’ midnight kiss as the ball drops for 2019. Everywhere you look you are reminded that you are single. And it makes you want to pull your hair out.

This isn’t meant to come off as a rant against my married friends or gain sympathy or pity from anyone reading this. It’s to acknowledge that the loneliness from being single is real. It is present, but it doesn’t have to appropriate your happiness, time, and thoughts. I made the choice this year to fight that loneliness. This year will be easier. The loneliness from being single is still poking at me, but it won’t be all consuming because this year I am discovering what it is to love myself well (first) in order to love others well. And this is what will make me thrive. I have to want myself in order to appreciate moments with others. If you don’t want yourself first, you will only end up feeling disappointment and rejection anytime someone doesn’t choose to seek out your attention and relationship.

I’ve lived my life with rejection after rejection, wanting someone who doesn’t want me back. It left me feeling hopeless, insecure, unattractive, not good enough, questioning constantly. I’ve burned bridges in the past because I didn’t know what it meant to love myself well, which meant I couldn’t love others well. I made situations about me when they should have been about someone else—should have been how to navigate together instead of seeing it as a force against me—all because I let the fear of being alone feed into my friendships with others.

The loneliness of being alone isn’t going to miraculously disappear. The ache from wanting someone who doesn’t want you back will still exist at times, but how you respond and how you perceive your situation makes the sting a little less of a nuisance. There are two areas I am focusing on this upcoming year in order to thrive within the heartache as opposed to drowning in it.

  1. Getting out of my own head: They could say all the right things to you, make you feel special and noticed, erase your doubts and insecurities for a moment, and make you feel content even in silent moments. But at the end of the day they choose to be in a relationship with someone else. They don’t choose you. They don’t want you. And that can sting. Rejection sucks. This happened to me this past year and it left me in my head. A lot. It makes you live in your head wondering “Why aren’t I worth investing in that way? Why am I not good enough but she is?” I realized though that living in your head will only lead to frustrations, doubts, insecurities, and pain instead of fully thriving in your potential to love others well and to love yourself well. Putting yourself in that negative mindset when it comes to others is you telling yourself “You are insignificant.” Why would you listen to that lie you tell yourself? We beat ourselves up way too much. You are significant. You are loved. You are noticed. Living in your head hinders others from seeing that. For years I acted, spoke, dressed the way I thought I needed to in order to gain validation from others, from men when I didn’t need to gain my validation from them. Get out of your own head and choose you.
  2. Discover what it is to want myself first: I grew up not liking myself. I let other people’s opinions determine how I viewed myself: someone who wasn’t worth investing in, someone who wasn’t wanted. I’ve taken time over the past few months to learn how to love myself through my flaws, my pride, my weaknesses, my strengths. If you don’t want to be around you, how can you expect others to want you? I made the choice this year to fight to love myself. When you truly let go of your self-worth baggage and love yourself, others notice. Others are drawn to you. Others want to be around you. When I stopped caring about the outcome and instead focused on the process of discovering myself, that is when I discovered what it was to want myself. That was when I could let my doubts and fears go. I chose to be the person I wanted to be around, not what was expected of me. I’d rather be myself and be alone than be in a relationship with someone where I can’t be myself—I strived for that kind of relationship for too long. I wasn’t moving forward with that mindset. Discovering how to love myself means I can love others well in friendships even when I feel hurt or disappointed because how I view myself is what will fuel that relationship not the expectation of what I want others to give me. Don’t be afraid to discover what you want. Ask yourself that, don’t let others determine it for you.

To those who find themselves struggling with being single and alone this season: I understand. I understand that ache you feel. That longing to have a companion for special events. The desire to find someone just to feel complete or accepted or wanted. The desire to be with that person you want to be with on New Year’s Eve but can’t because they choose someone else. The sadness you feel knowing they are with someone else for those moments that you want. Know I understand. You are not alone. But don’t let that stop you from being intentional and abundantly loving others. Don’t put up a wall because you are tired of the rejection or lack of someone in your life. Still choose to seek out moments for you. Seek out people who allow you to thrive. Seek out ways to continue discovering and loving yourself. Seek out opportunity to give yourself to others, to show them just how badass you are.

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