As a young single foreign woman doctor living in small-town America where I had no prior commitment to —except for my job, people seem to think the holidays have to be exceptionally difficult for me. The comments come from a good place; these people care enough to ensure I am wholly doing well.
But I guess for most people who could fit my demographic it could be a difficult time? For me, the holidays are still a merry time and I enjoy them as much as everyone else does. Or so I choose to think?
Here is my holiday mantra: The holidays will only be as hard as you make it.
And seeing as I am on the self-love bandwagon, there is no time here for self-pity and you should not tolerate that either.
Newsflash: a new partner or more gifts or sappy holiday photos would not make the holidays any less miserable if you are already miserable at heart.
Your happiness will never come from another person – it begins deep within you. If you are not happy alone, you wouldn’t be happy with a crowd.
Clutching unto anyone who does not wholly love you just to have companionship for the holidays will leave you feeling even more empty by Jan 1st. May as well just hold the single pill in your throat until then when everyone else returns to relative normalcy. Trust me, in my previous insecure life – I have also served as a placeholder in a man’s life just so he could get through a holiday. Not fun!
“Oh, but Nina, I am not the one asking myself intrusive questions at the dinner table” – you may say.
To that, I will say, your response would determine the rest of the conversation and perhaps the rest of your life.
You alone are in control of how others make you feel. Maybe your expectations of these people who should understand you are just way too high compared to what it should realistically be. Don’t make idols of family opinions. Truth is they are all just struggling with other major decisions in life as well. This does not mean you should be disrespectful to mom and dad though. However, receive criticism but respond with grace.
Here are a few things you can do to keep yourself feeling fulfilled during the holidays:
- Give gifts of love and service. You don’t even need to have to give. Go volunteer at a shelter, school or a place where lonely people are bound to gather. If you have extra coins, then shower your family and happy coupled up friends with gifts they don’t even need but still want.
- Quit comparing yourselves to frozen moments on social media! You just don’t need and know that other person’s pain and/or struggles. Stay focused on your course.
- Count your blessings daily. You still have a family – of some sort! So you are not entirely alone. That’s worth being thankful for! Extra tip – write down some of your blessings just so you don’t forget. Grab a cup of hot chocolate, a journal, pen and a few of your favorite pumpkin scented candles and write away.
- Stop freaking feeling sorry for yourself and realize you have this life better than most of the world. I grew up in Cameroon and the holidays weren’t as commercialized as they are in the West. In some areas, a decent chicken laden family meal, one gift and maybe a new outfit were enough to call it a great one. Now, here we are tormenting ourselves with comparison about who is having the best holiday season based on societal pressures. We have turned to materializing a life we should simply enjoy. We have exactly what we absolutely need. Can you now see how awesome your life is already?
- Stay busy with other hobbies and pleasures or make some extra $ along the way. All those people cashing in their paid-time-off for the holidays means you can fill in the gap needed by various employers, and at twice the rate. Friend, Go! Get! Your! Coins!
- Host a Friendsgiving dinner! It’s easy, grab other lonely people in your area (
they exist),get them to each buy healthy cooked food and create a new temporary family.
Don’t sit around waiting for your festive period to be lit someday when you will have a spouse or children of your own or more cooperative family. Your life can be lit right now if you light it up! Use the family you’ve got now. If you don’t want to deter from the traditions of this time of the year, keep them alive by combining one or two of my suggestions above. Let us see how that transforms this holiday season for you.
Remember; this is YOUR LIFE, right now in front of you to maximize it, enjoy it and live it. Be present in it and make the moves you want to see happen for you.
There is no human to rescue you, you are what you’ve got in this season.