Monday, January 28, 2013

No More a Stranger: Ending Personal Loneliness

Loneliness has been on my mind the last few months.  My Bishop talks a lot about how we should never allow ourselves to be lonely.  

We usually blame other people for our loneliness.  It makes sense on the surface; we are always with ourselves, it's the presence of other people that keeps away loneliness, ergo other people hold the control.  But however logical it may seem, this is false.  

Sometimes single college kids feel like if they could just find "the one," loneliness would be over.  This is not true either. It will still be a challenge to not feel lonely while being a stay-at-home mom, alone with kids all day, or working a job in your own secluded office forty hours a week.  Not feeling lonely requires a skill set, and those skills won't become obsolete when you have your own family.

There have been times in my life when I felt intensely lonely.  I feel one would be hard pressed to find someone who hasn't felt that way. The last few years, however, I've learned a lot about how to stave off loneliness.  And the fact is, that very little of what I've learned has to do with the actions of other people.

What I've learned about ending personal loneliness:

  1. YOLO.  Stop caring about what other people think. Seriously, though.  Stick it to the man.   The most liberating thing you do is stop worrying about what other people think about you, because what other people think about you really doesn't matter much. It doesn't have to affect you. Once you realize this, you free yourself up to focus on more important things.  Like others.
  2. People all have image hang-ups and self-esteem issues. Stop assuming that just because someone is ripped or skinny or in any other way "attractive," that they feel confident all the time.  No one is immune to the cultural messages that perfection is the only acceptable type of beauty.  No one  is perfect; don't be intimidated by someone because you think they have it all.  I believe that everyone is beautiful, stunning even, in their own way.  The more yourself you become, the more beautiful you will be. So don't fret that people don't want your friendship because they're too cool for you. Being confident about yourself is way more attractive than hustling to conform.
  3. No one is smart and witty all the time. Don't worry if you say something dumb.  You're probably the only person that's ever happened to.  Oh, wait.  That happens to everyone, to some of us on a daily basis.;)  Acting like you never say stupid things is ridiculous! Embrace it. Don't refrain from reaching out to someone because you're afraid you'll say something dumb.  If you do, just laugh about it, correct it, or if it's a lost cause, walk away and try again.  Bonus: Your communication will improve only as you practice and  learn how to better express yourself.
  4. People don't really want to hurt you. People say and do hurtful things.  This is a reflection of how they feel, not of you. Again: Not about you.  Don't be afraid to make friends with people because you think they'll hurt you.  Because it's not about you.  Instead, put yourself in their shoes.  Try to understand what the real issue is. Empathy, peeps.  Also: Look for this in yourself.  When you are rude to someone, apologize and calm down and look for the real cause.  Are your really angry that your roommate put her milk in your section of the fridge?  Or was it that you had a rough day at school? You're tired? You're frustrated that your attempts at organization are failing?  
  5. It's okay if you feel lonely every once in a while. Really.  Cry.  Hang out with Ben & Jerry. Just know that they way you feel is temporary.  You will wake up feeling better. People worry that once they start letting their emotions come out, they won't be able to stop them.  This is usually because they have been "bottling" them up.  Don't bottle.  Let 'em out.  Let yourself feel and heal.  If you can't, seek professional help. I reiterate: They're professionals.  They can help.
  6. You are your own best friend. Get to know yourself, your likes and dislikes, be happy spending time by yourself doing things you love. Start doing those things that you say you do when people ask you about your hobbies.  Don't find them fulfilling? Find something that captures your interest.  Read. Cook.  Build airplanes.  Teach.  There is something out there that can ignite your passion.
  7. Know your worth.  Value yourself.  I can't over stress this. If you know you're worthwhile, you will exude that and people will see you the same way.  If you don't view yourself as worthwhile, people will pickup on that too.  Hint: You are worthwhile, so don't think for one second that you're the exception to this rule.  You are not your own.  You were bought with a price, the blood of the Son of God.  That's pretty valuable.  If you don't know your worth now, make it a top priority to really discover it.
  8. Family matters. Raise your hand if you have a perfect family. Okay, no one does.  Now that we've settled that, family relationships are important!  No matter what the situation is, do the best you can to bond with your family. They will be there for you in ways friends can't be. Don't brush them off. Look for the good.  Spend time learning from your family and from other families about how you want your future family to be. 
  9. Nurture the friendships you already have. Value the friends you do have.  If you don't have any, value your acquaintances until they become friends.  When you feel lonely, it's easy to feel that you have no one.  Check Facebook, okay?  All of those people care about you enough not to block you.  That's a start:)  Befriend your friends.
  10. Reach out. Obvi.  People always wish that others would approach them and make friends with them. I'll tell you a secret: if you never approach anyone, people won't approach you.  Because you will have made yourself unapproachable.  The very thing that draws people to you is your ability to reach out and make them feel wanted and welcome.
  11. God is the only constant. He's the only one who can pick you up every time you fall.  He's the only one who will give you undeservable love.  It's He who will complete you, challenge you, engage you, and make you your best self.  We were blessed with the gift of the Holy Ghost to be our constant companion when we were baptized.  We are never alone. 

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