How I Changed My Relationship With Loneliness (And Why You Should Too)
I’m now in my late twenties. And at this point in my life I just assumed I would already be in a serious relationship — if not married.
I mean shit, when my brother was my age, he was already married with his first kid on the way. Which probably means I should have followed suit yes?
I’ve also always been the relationship type. Loyal, reliable, kind and of above average intelligence (or so I like to think). Everything a female might want in a partner — right?
Perhaps, but that’s not really the point, nor the issue.
I’ve spent the majority of my life surrounded by inherently good people. I’ve always had an innate ability to easily make friends — and really good ones!
Recently however, I’ve observed — with a conflicting mix of envy and vitriol — as one by one, my friends have partnered up, taken the plunge, gotten spliced, given up ownership of their testicles — whatever you want to call it.
So as time has passed, my metabolism has slowed down and as I continue to pluck more and more stress induced white hairs from my lame excuse for a mustache, my friend group has gotten smaller and smaller.
As this has occurred, I have spent an increasing number of Friday and Saturday nights solo — surrounded by a pile of UberEATS delivered food, eyes focused on the TV as it plays the latest trending show on Netflix.
Part of this has indeed been by choice — as I simply cannot, and refuse to spend more Friday nights pounding shots of fireball and wandering aimlessly around the bar, too scared to approach the strange and elusive creature that is the opposite sex.
But by choice or not, it didn’t stop those feelings of loneliness.
The truth is, I have spent the majority of my post-college life not really knowing who I am. Searching, waiting for that elusive, life-changing moment that is supposedly going to define me.
I have trudged through the muddy, moccasin infested waters that have defined my twenties, wondering when my big break was going to come.
But the moment has yet to arrive, which has been an open invitation for loneliness to make itself at home within me.
This has led to thoughts like: Why am I not in a happy relationship? Why am I still alone? And what the hell is my purpose on this god forsaken planet?
This also gets perpetuated when you have members of your family reminding you that “you’re not getting any younger” — as if I am unaware that relationships can be absolutely wonderful things. I’d be totally lying if I told you I’ve never felt feelings of envy when I observe my friends who are in thriving, healthy relationships.
But so what if I’m not in one right now? And so what if you aren’t either, regardless of your age.
Why does this have to mean there’s something wrong with you?
Let me fuck you up with some truth —IT DOESN’T.
But this article wasn’t written just for me to vent or wallow in self-pity. It’s for me to tell my story. To provide some insight into how I dealt with these yucky feelings, in hopes that it might help someone else out there struggling with something similar.
Now I didn’t experience some profound, immediate epiphany about loneliness. Improvement has happened gradually, with time and effort (as most things go in life).
So as I spent more time by myself, and continue to do so — I slowly began to change my relationship with loneliness.
Instead of being afraid to sit with it, I started to embrace it.
Instead of associating the word “lonely” with feelings of deficiency, defectiveness or isolation — I began to associate it with self-exploration, self-discovery and curiosity.
If you think about it, what is loneliness other than a label? Just like ‘single’ — just like ‘in a relationship.’
Why must we associate the term with feelings of deficiency, defectiveness, and isolation?
What if we didn’t see loneliness this way? What if we re-framed it? What if we changed our beliefs about loneliness altogether?
What if we used this time spent alone as an opportunity to get to know ourselves, explore our creativity, make art, and create ourselves?
Just because the people around you are coupling off and setting on their own path doesn’t mean you need to follow.
If anything, what the world needs right now are people who zig when everyone around them zags.
I’ve begun to appreciate the fact that I’m different, that I’m unique. I don’t want to be like everybody else. Do you?
So when you see everyone around you settling and getting into relationships, and you’re not in one — perhaps you should consider taking pride in that. Find comfort in the fact that you’re taking the road less traveled.