Going to the movies is my favorite thing to do. I get lost in the entire experience of purchasing a ticket, buying popcorn and getting into a good story line. This weekend, I took myself to see Hidden Figures (breh, that movie gave me every bit of life). As I was leaving, I couldn’t help but to smile as I thought back to a time I could have never gone to a movie by myself.
Loneliness was the cup I drank from and I filled it up to the brim with useless distractions. Growing worse in college, my heart was longing to be noticed. I hung on to any attention that verified I could be loved. That I was of value. And the way I did this was by keeping my days busy. Whether I was entertaining myself with friends, guys, Love & Hip Hop or anything in between, I had to be surrounded by whatever distracted me from my biggest enemy – me.
I mostly experienced loneliness because I didn’t want to face the “reality” that my life was nothing like I wanted. That I was not the person I dreamed to be. That somehow my choices had led me to this season of frustration and confusion.
In a room full of people I still carried a burden of not feeling lovable and understood. I wanted to be myself and show people who I really was, but I didn’t even know what to show them. Who was I?
Loneliness vs. Being Alone
Many people get these two very confused. While being alone can simply mean doing something by yourself (like going to eat), loneliness is the overwhelming sadness of not belonging. For me, it were things like not belonging to that successful Facebook crowd that reminded me how behind I was on life. For you it could be belonging in a relationship or that fun group of friends. Being human, it’s our nature to want to belong to something but oftentimes we allow people, bad experiences and even ourselves to get in the way of achieving that in a genuine way.
That was me to the max. After college, it felt like I had become even more dependent on others and my idea of success to make me happy. But gradually, the security in my life began to fall apart. By Summer 2014, God had snatched everything I had put my value in from up under me.
Guys? Gone times a thousand.
A Job? Buh Bye.
Love & Hip Hop? I just let that go myself.
Every single thing that I ran to for value had left. So there I was, stuck on a blow up mattress in my mother’s living room apartment. I was facing the person I had tried to run from all those years. Again, ME.
God forced me into isolation because he knew I would have never done it on my own.
It didn’t feel good to be exposed. It made me admit that I had gotten lost in the sauce of comparison and extreme pressure on myself. That busy, friendly, always at the function girl was hiding inside a ball of insecurity. But in that quiet time I started to get to know myself like never before and it changed my life.
Handling Your Lonely Seasons
There are going to be seasons in your life where you are forced to deal with who you are. Mine started when I felt like no one was around to hear me. But there’s something special about facing yourself in those dark places. That may be the very thing that uncovers the light you need to fall in love with you. I found out what makes me sad and what makes me happy in those quiet times. I listened to what my heart wanted out of life instead of what would garner the most applause.
No one can truly love you if you don’t know who you are. If you feel like you are entering a season of alone time, I challenge you to spend some time facing those vulnerable places. Let those toxic people go. Break away from habits that are keeping you stuck. Challenge yourself. Get over your obsession to be perfect and learn to fall in love with all of your inadequacies each and every day.
Physical Effects of Loneliness (Say what?)
Did you know that loneliness affects you physically too?
Besides the mentally blocks, loneliness can cause stress, heart issues and extremely bad habits. In a Very Well article, a researcher found that people who suffered loneliness tended to have very bad habits like little exercise, irregular sleeping patterns and a piss poor (okay, I added that in) diet.
Is that you fam? Are you letting this mental block flow into every area of your life?
No one said it would be easy to change your mindset, especially when you are used to saying “it is what it is.” But if you are truly ready to live different, you have to think different.
Here are a few ways that helped me shift my mind:
COMMIT – I picked at least one thing each day that I could do. During my time of isolation I would go to the library and learn about confidence. I really wanted to work with helping people (ironic huh) so I made myself work towards that goal. Just doing one thing a day helped give me some purpose and allowed me to celebrate myself.
GET IN YOUR FEELS – People hateee getting in their feelings. But I have learned that we control how we feel, they don’t control us. Even now, when I start to get lonely I allow myself to feel the feeling but speak life over it. An example could be –
“I know this doesn’t feel good right now so I’m going to embrace this. BUT BAYBAYYY you won’t be staying all day because I have goals to meet and chains to break. Hurry up now.”
So maybe your self talk is different than mine. But encourage yourself in those moments and let the feelings come and then go.
PRODUCTIVE PEOPLE ONLY, PLEASE – A huge part of my loneliness were friends that honestly weren’t good for me. They were always in drama, criticized people in a heart beat. I knew I needed more positive friends but “history” always keeps you hanging. Well God fixed that for me. I had to learn that during these seasons of feeling lonely I HAVE to have people who speak life into me. Everyone else can exit.
Who are are those 2am people in your life? The ones that have your back and cheer you on no mater what? Allow those people to help you build your strength and support.
GROW YA CHARACTER – You want to talk about character building? Being alone is the ultimate test. What are you going to do in this season? Start taking advantage of every opportunity to be better (even if it’s easier to be average and comfortable). You obviously don’t like feeling lonely so do whatever you have to do to break that spirit. Go to conferences. Go to THERAPY (therapy is good ya’ll). Fight for what you want.
Learning how to be alone has helped me grow in so many ways. Now I do everything by myself and I’m so much more aware of who I am and what I deserve. It’s going to be an ugly process going into hibernation. But you are going to come out stronger, wiser and focused like never before. You got this. WE got this. Let’s do this.
Alaina Nicole <3
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