I’m not going to lie, this is a heavy one. And it’s all too relatable for too many of us out there. But we’re all unwilling to admit that we’re struggling. Or we make out like we’re discussing vulnerable topics with our friends, solemnly over tea, but actually don’t risk anything of ourselves in so doing. We know that what we’re discussing is sensitive and theoretically revealing, but it isn’t actually for us.
We aren’t actually exposed, and therefore avoid all forms of judgement we fear that our real selves or troubles would elicit. However, that means that we aren’t actually known by other people. And as such, we enact a cycle of shame and isolation. This is where we feel that we can’t confide in other people, so we turn inwards with self-loathing.
Oh yes, I’m going in hard with a glass of wine today, friends.
Therefore, we don’t share anything, and in fact replace our outward persona with something slightly resembling us, but a more mainstream, palatable, hashtag relatable individual version of that. Who, indeed, is the real ‘us’. It makes us feel like trash and like a non-person. Essentially, we also fear that we are alone in thinking and acting like this. Trust me, you aren’t. let this article be evidence of that.
This inward struggle makes surviving everyday a thankless task. It stands to reason that if people don’t realise you’re struggling, they don’t give you a break or credit for just continuing to exist.
Sometimes alone time is great.
We all need time to ourselves, to think. To reflect on the weeks gone by.
But as you rewatch an ungodly amount of wholesome noughties feel good television and consume an entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s it will occur to you that you don’t want to feel sad and alone. You might be single, but it doesn’t mean you have to be sad or pitiful (not, of course, that watching Gilmore Girls constitutes being pathetic, that would be sacrilege).
We all want to feel like we should be able to cut it alone, but that’s easier said than done. It’s our natural instinct to band together and form communities around adversity.
But not always.
Sometimes, it’s the lone wolves that, through necessity, grow stronger and more resilient than the pack wolves with a soft underbelly.
While I love a pep-talk with my mum as much as the next gal, there are some realisations that we must come to alone. Not just when we are on our own, but when we feel at our lowest or drifting away, that can often bring the greatest perspective and clarity. It’s a long journey and there isn’t necessarily a specific end-goal in learning to be comfortable alone, but it’s so worth it if you feel even slightly more self sufficient.
In terms of me offering a resolution to this, a short term jolting you out of a rut, I have a few suggestions. Take them all with a pinch of salt, but try to think about what you might need at this moment.
Bear in mind that it’s okay to feel terrible, sometimes.
Even if you have no particular ‘reason’ for feeling as such.
Check in with your hobbies and entertainment preferences – even though your friends used to scoff at your earnest love of Harry Potter and Stranger Things in favour of the latest gritty drama. Reclaim your passions! Without the threat of other people’s shame or judgement, you will find that you can unapologetically enjoy your true taste in music, film or podcasts. You won’t feel the pressure to consume politically-charged, ‘woke’ or emotionally intense entertainment if that’s not your scene. You will find that you were probably less comfortable with the Game of Thrones film nights than you thought at the time. There’s nothing wrong with realising that retrospectively. Next time you will be able to know what you do and don’t like and act accordingly.
Put on an ABBA soundtrack and dance around in your underwear with a glass of wine. Alter the album and alcohol to your taste, and it’s worth checking the apartment is empty before you strip off. However, after these checks, there is something truly liberating about leaping around with reckless abandon. Shouting out the lyrics to a song you forgot you knew the lyrics to. Literally stripping back the layers of stress around you. Yes, having a significant other is great and emotionally satisfying, but you can still have great fun single. Not only that, but you can engage with your own needs. Realise that you don’t have to exist just as a half of a relationship, or player in a group dynamic. When you give yourself the credit of being a whole human being, you recognise that you have needs. You also have the means to satisfy them.
Some more tea to spill here, pals…
Learning that you are imperfect and that it’s fine. There’s not much I need to add to that one. Through constantly comparing ourselves to the people around us and testing our success against impossible standards, we can never win. We never give ourselves chance to. If we think we might fall short, or not be immediately great at something new. More still, the implicit peer pressure and feelings of guilt or regret that comes with constantly surrounding yourself with people who are at different stages of their lives than you, is crippling over time.
It is a fact universally known that the cruellest and most vicious person you will ever experience, is yourself. Therefore, it stands to reason that so long as you can stand your own company (or even enjoy it!). Who is there left to impress? The long and short of it? You are the most important person to yourself. Treat yourself as such, get to know yourself.