Thriving in Singlehood #M4MVoices
1. What are some strategies you practice to thrive in singlehood?
Emma: Prayer is so important! It keeps me in relationship with the One who loves me intimately and passionately. Eucharistic Adoration, daily Mass and Reconciliation are also beautiful ways that I am able to be in communion with Jesus. I also invest myself in building strong friendships that allow me to be supported and encouraged by others. This is also a blessed time to be able to grow as a person: work on virtues, read good books, and learn new skills.
Michella: I think being single altogether is very subjective and really depends on what your personality is like, where you are in your life, and what kind of support system you have. Thriving entails positive growth and development. As such, being single is the best opportunity to do just that, because you cannot truly be yourself unless you learn to be alone first. Even having this outlook about being single is helpful, because after all, how are you supposed to grow as an individual without being in touch with yourself first? So first strategy: be okay with being alone, because it really is okay to be single. Be focused on all things "you" and realize your fullest potential as an autonomous and independent person. If you can do that, when the time comes and the opportunity presents itself, being with other people will be so much more fulfilling.
Anonymous: Speaking with good role models and people who authentically practice their faith helps me realize that I am not alone in this journey. We should be mindful of the movies, songs and music we listen to so that we don’t let our emotions get carried away. We can end up throwing pity parties for ourselves and can be emotionally manipulated.
2. How do you stay optimistic and joyful?
Emma: My joy comes from knowing I am loved by God! I often find myself falling into the trap of thinking “in the future, I will be happy…when this happens…or that.” But then I remember that I am loved by God RIGHT NOW and He is the ultimate fulfillment of my desires! Gratitude is also important. Every night before I go to bed, I review my day and thank God for the ways He was with me and the blessings He has shown me.
Michella: Sometimes the fates are unkind, and it becomes so easy to lose hope and end up in a downward spiral of sadness, or just a bad attitude. Staying optimistic and joyful isn't just a single person challenge; it's an every person in the world challenge.
- Personally, the one thing that keeps me optimistic is reading. I believe that reading can be equated to what physical activity does the the physical body; where exercise works the major muscle groups, reading works the metaphorical muscles of the mind. Reading opens you up to a variety of worlds and experiences of other people who once lived, suffered, experienced and got through life. That is what everyone else is doing, why not read what other people have done and see what worked for them? That is my attitude toward literature anyway.
- However, physical activity will also help with being optimistic and joyful... endorphins = happy hormones and happy hormones = happy person (usually). So those are two of my main methods of staying optimistic and joyful.
- Additionally, I would include spontaneous phone calls to your friends. When something exciting happens, or you are just thinking about a person, don't just send a text, make your feeling of happiness known by actively reaching out to a person. This won't just make you feel joy, the person on the receiving end will be happy to know someone thought about them in a moment of happiness.
- Lastly, and this might sound silly, but go play with kids. If you have nieces or nephews, or even a place close by to volunteer with kids, do it! Kids have this amazingly innocent charm where nothing seems to phase them, because they have yet to learn all of the fears and anxieties that accompany adulthood. They are carefree and honest. I work with kids, and often I go visit the youngest ones just to hear what they have to say, and talk about what fun thing they have done that day. This often minimizes my own worries, and connects me back to inner childhood and happiness. Besides, cute kids make people happy, and sometimes, snacks are involved.
Anonymous: Prayer is the source of joy. You can’t go wrong with a growing relationship with Jesus. “God can’t give us peace and happiness apart from Himself because there is no such thing” –C.S. Lewis.
3. What are some things that we can do to build each other up?
Emma: I think it starts with vulnerability. Be willing to be open with others about your struggles, your fears and your desires. This is where compassion and authentic relationships begin. When I know someone’s heart, I find it so much easier to encourage them, delight in them and celebrate with them. I also remind myself that I’m not in competition with other women. Staying close to Mother Mary helps with that.
Michella: The most obvious is to talk to each other. I don't mean texting or emailing. I mean face to face, meet for coffee, lunch or dinner talking. I mean breaking it down, and just be openly honest about how we feel, the things that have influenced our thoughts and feelings, what has been said that has brought us down, and most importantly, say out loud what it is that we need from other people to make us feel okay again. I am also a big fan of doing acts of kindness for people. For example, I LOVE to bake, consequently, all of my friends and co-workers receive cupcakes for their birthdays. I think showing people that we actively and genuinely care for them helps even the loneliest person feel accepted and wanted. After all, "Kindness is a language even the deaf can hear and the blind can see." Mark Twain really hit the nail on that one.
Anonymous: It is important to talk to friends when you’re being brought down. Through this, it allows them to send a lot of prayer your way, which will help in the process of building up. Check up on each other and have honest conversations regularly.
4. What was a struggle you encountered & how did you overcome it?
Emma: I’ve definitely struggled with trusting God. I like to be in control, to plan ahead, and to feel “on top of things.” But when it comes to my future and the deepest desires of my heart, I’m not in control at all! It’s been a process to realize, that’s actually a good thing. God knows me and loves me deeply, and He is so trustworthy. He often only shows me the next step in His plan (I’d like to know the next ten steps). But walking with Him one step at a time has allowed me to stay close to Him and depend on Him.
- I think for me learning how to be alone was difficult. I have been dating since I was a teenager, and once I reached adulthood, I had to prioritize fun, responsibility and my future career. Sometimes, these things counteract one another, and one part starts to suffer. So dating was difficult because it took so much effort, and I so badly wanted for everything else to go right. So getting used to just being by myself was hard.
- Another thing is seeing everyone else moving on, getting married and having kids. I so badly wanted that sense of (what I perceive to be) stability. So my perception of other peoples' lives is something I need to work on as well, because although they have what they have, I have so much as well.
- Learning to recognize my accomplishments is another thing I struggled with. All of these things are issues I am somewhat still grappling. I don't think they are simple to overcome because life is just too complicated, media feeds us so much unnecessary stuff, and our current culture is that of the excess. I think just being aware of the issues is a good and right step in getting through it. For the most part, I try to surround myself with people who encourage my dreams and challenge me to better myself as a person. The people who make you think about and show you your potential are the ones who really know your worth. I've started to bake these people cupcakes too.
Anonymous: The waiting period can really test patience and endurance, especially when you began enduring this journey at an early age. St. Augustine says that man was created “for God Himself; he was created to be filled by God. But [the heart of man] is too small for the greatness to which it is destined. It must be stretched. By delaying [his gift], God strengthens our desire; through desire he enlarges our soul and by expanding it he increases its capacity [for receiving him]” I overcome it by being reminded, through prayer, that this process of waiting is stretching my heart for the gift to come, when then gives me peace!