Chances are, you had great ideas about the freedom that you would have, to do whatever you want, and had imagined your dream job and a perfect life.
As humans, we spend a lot of time dreaming of the big things that we desire and crave for, but we overlook the simple things that really matter.
One of the things we don’t picture often enough is the presence of other people in our grand plans of life.
Instead, we just assume that no matter where life takes us, we will have people who love us surrounding us, and they’d enjoy spending time with us *whether these be friends, family, or a significant other*.
Unfortunately, life’s twists and turns don’t always provide us with built-in friendships or relationships.
In fact, there are several phases in life where you may find yourself successful in your career and happy with your location, but completely alone in your social life.
And being alone can place a damper on your other successes.
After all, if you don’t have anyone to celebrate with, many of your other accomplishments can feel pretty empty. [Read: 18 insightful reasons why you don’t have any friends right now]
The three stages of understanding and dealing with loneliness
These stages can appear in your life for many reasons. Perhaps, you have just gone through a break up with a significant other, or your friends have moved on into a new life phase, or you have moved across the country and aren’t sure how to put your roots down in a new place.
No matter the reason, there is no need to fear loneliness. While it can be hard to come home to an empty apartment and spend the evenings alone, periods of loneliness can also be an amazing time to take care of yourself, build yourself back up, and find new connections that can help you feel fulfilled and complete, all over again. [Read: How to stop feeling ignored by the ones you love]
Stage #1 Self-Care
If your evenings find you alone on the couch, dreaming of days in the past in order to escape the loneliness you feel right now, you are in desperate need of some self-care. Loneliness can be sad, but it can also be a chance to pamper yourself. After all, there is no one else for you to be worrying about! This means you are able to put yourself first, guilt-free!
What are your favorite guilty pleasures? Whether it is an excessively long hot bath, playing your favorite songs at top-volume, or eating an entire pint of ice cream while watching your favorite Netflix show, you have the right to do it!
Spend some of your money in a selfish way – buy some new clothes, or a piece of artwork, or a new video game, indulge in something you’d absolutely enjoy!
There are very few times in your life where you will not have to consider the feelings *and finances!* of others when making decisions about how you want to spend your time and money, so take advantage of this opportunity to do things exactly the way you want.
Try to give yourself one or two of these favorite things to look forward to, each day. They do not need to be extravagant indulgences in order to give you a little ‘boost’ emotionally. In fact, sometimes the smaller guilty pleasures are all the more fun to enjoy! Have a glass of wine while reading a new magazine, or light your favorite candle, revel in this rare chance to pamper yourself and put your own needs first. [Read: 20 sure signs you’re a people pleaser who puts others’ needs first all the time]
Stage #2 Self-Improvement
Once you begin to find ways to embrace being alone through pampering yourself, you may begin to get restless. After all, even pampering yourself can get old after a few weeks! This is your next big step in embracing loneliness – taking this opportunity to improve yourself.
A self-improvement journey will be different for everyone, as each individual has different areas that they will need to focus on. A good place to start is to write down a list of the ways you would like to improve intellectually, emotionally/spiritually, and physically. Once you have these three lists, you can pick out one or two from each list to work on at one time.
For example, you may decide that you want to use your open schedule to get into better shape. You don’t have to work around any one else’s schedule, you may find that you are able to hire a personal trainer or fit in a new fitness class. You may also decide that you want to spend some time improving in an intellectual skill such as a new language, your cooking skill, or a college class that will help your career.
This time of your life may feel empty, but it is possible to fill it with new experiences and learning opportunities that will enrich every season of your life that comes next. [Read: 11 easy steps to love yourself and brome a much better person]
Stage #3 Finding Connections Again
Despite the many benefits that can be gained from time alone and embracing loneliness, humans are social creatures and finding people to support you in your current life phase is important. It is important to take care of yourself first before beginning this step, because you need to be able to avoid connections that are not going to be healthy for you.
If you are desperate for human connection in a time of loneliness, you are far more likely to end up surrounded by people who are harmful for you. So make sure you are in a good place before you begin looking to connect with new people! [Read: How to recognize and end toxic relationships]
When you are ready to connect with new people, do so purposefully. In fact, your self-improvement phase may have already helped you set the groundwork for some new relationships. For example, maybe there are some people you’ve met at a fitness class or sat next to in your pottery workshop that you could grab a coffee with. There are plenty of websites offering a chance for complete strangers to meet up in a local city and enjoy a new activity together.
One of the easiest ways to make new connections is to be totally honest about your situation. Opening up to new people, and letting them know that you are new to the city or just out of a breakup will give them an idea of where you are, on an emotional level. After all, they may not have any idea that you are actually looking to be friends instead of just acquaintances, and you will want to explicitly let them know that! [Read: 16 reasons why people find it so easy to take you for granted]
Meeting new people can be scary, but remember that you are already making it fine on your own! You don’t need anyone else’s approval, and you are able to take care of yourself! Go through your day and assume that everyone you come in contact with is a potential option for a new friendship or connection. Make the decision to try and foster new relationships, and soon, your period of loneliness will be over!
Finding acceptance for where you are
Even if this isn’t how you pictured your life turning out, it is what it is! Every choice you make now is going to determine what your future ends up being. So if you don’t like where you are, instead of obsessing over past decisions that have ended up with you in this lonely situation, you need to take conscious choices that will lead to self-care, self-improvement and the creation of new, lasting relationships.
This season of loneliness only needs to be a single season. You will find new love and new friendships in the future, so make the most of where you are right now and revel in the chance to spoil yourself and improve yourself!