For many years loneliness has been a struggle for me. If I wasn’t with a group of friends or significant other, I didn’t know what to do with myself. Loneliness is scary. It’s a fear that we conjure up in our minds, and frequently it holds us back from the fulfilling life we dream of.
Most people find true loneliness after a breakup. We can’t wrap our minds around what happened while also trying to deal with our devastating emotions. We overanalyze each detail of our defeat, asking ourself repeatedly, “What went wrong?”
We cling to those memories of the good times, the days when everything seemed perfect. We think something is going to last forever, and then out of the blue our world comes crumbling down around us.
For a few weeks (or months) we wallow in self-pity. We cry, curse, and scream into our pillow just to find some kind of relief. Despite the suffering we feel, there does come a point where we have to move on, and when that moment comes we panic.
We don’t know how to be alone, and honestly we don’t want to. The truth is no one wants to be alone. No matter what people tell you, everybody wants someone to love. They may be in denial, but they’ll realize it eventually.
Once the initial pain and heartbreak ease up, we realize that life must go on. A lot of times we just don’t know how to move past it.
For a long time I held on to something that was beyond over, but no matter how I tried I just couldn’t seem to let it go. All it was doing was causing me pain, but still I refused. One day I sat down and really analyzed why I was continuing to follow this destructive pattern.
That’s when I realized I was enduring this heartbreak simply because I didn’t want to be alone. At that point I would’ve rather been miserable holding on to a mere memory than to be lonesome. At the time it sounded pathetic, but after talking with a few people I realized it’s more common than I thought.
So in that moment, I made myself a promise to never go back to that dark place. I made a pledge that I would face my fear of loneliness and learn to embrace it. The journey has been tough, and it’s something I’ve had to work on every day. However, I’ve learned a few tricks along the way.
1. Embrace it.
The first thing we must do if we truly want to conquer this fear is to embrace the loneliness. I simply sat on my bed, closed my eyes and reflected on the fear. I delved deep into my soul to figure out what was holding me back, and after multiple sit downs I figured it out. After that I released it, and let me tell you it was the biggest relief I’ve ever felt.
2. Make new friends.
I never realized this would be a tough one for me. I’d had friends my whole life, and I couldn’t figure out why a simple move to a new city made me feel so alone. After discussing this with my therapist, she enlightened me. All of my friends were from back home. I’d always made friends through school or sports, and now those things were out of my life. I didn’t know how to make new friends from scratch which was a big eye opener for me. So I took on the challenge of building brand new relationships.
One of the great things about being in a brand new city and uncommitted is the opportunity to explore. Once I starting looking into things to do in my new environment, I realized there are so many new things to try. It’s so exciting to simply explore my community in all its glory. Plus, it’s so much fun
4. Join a group.
This one was extremely intimidating for me at first. I’d always been in groups or organizations where I knew at least one person so going to a new group for the first time was overwhelming. Even so, I put on my big girl pants, showed up to a meeting and lone behold I made new friends.
5. Take a break from social media.
While social media is a great way to stay connected, it can also be extremely depressing. Yes, we’re happy for all of those people who are finding love, getting engaged/married and having children. Still, deep down it hurts to see people getting what you want in your life. It’s not selfish, it’s human nature. So one thing I’ve found very helpful is just taking a break from social media every once in a while. In that time, focus on the positive and what you want for your life. Your time will come.
6. Live life a day at a time.
As someone with anxiety I can honestly say this feels damn near impossible for me, and you better believe it’s a daily struggle. I haven’t let my anxiety become an excuse though, and through meditation and prayer I’ve learned to live in the present moment. Life becomes so much more enjoyable when we can achieve this. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed when we think about everything we want to accomplish. Just take it a day at a time, and God’s plan will start to reveal itself.
7. Focus on yourself.
Last but certainly not least, learn to focus on yourself. In society today putting ourselves first is frequently looked at as being selfish or egotistical (which baffles my mind). Why aren’t we allowed to focus on ourselves? This is our life. I mean sure you shouldn’t pull a Kanye West and become a narcissistic idiot, but it’s okay to make yourself number one. If you aren’t taking time to work on yourself, you won’t become the best you can possibly be. We have to love ourselves before we can love others.
Even with all of these lessons I’ve learned, I face a daily struggle. Unfortunately, we can’t just snap our fingers and overcome our fear of being alone. It’s something we continually have to work towards. There will be days that loneliness creeps in. That is okay. Just let the fear pass, and get back on track. The moment we finally become comfortable with being alone, we find freedom.