OK, real talk: sometimes, being a 20-something sucks.
Being a real adult can be pretty. I know that I am not alone - Jesus is with me, I have friends all over the country, and I know I am blessed with many people who love and care about me. But sometimes I just feel lonely, you know?
When I get stuck in these ruts, I want to curl up in my bed, watch endless hours of Netflix, eat Cherry Garcia FroYo from Ben & Jerry's, and sometimes just cry for no reason. The last thing I want to do is be around people - it just takes so much effort.
Yet wallowing in this doesn't accomplish anything. So instead of quitting everything I am involved in so I can watch every television show ever made, I try to fight the loneliness by getting out of my comfort zone.
How I tackle the days I feel lonely can be summed up in these four words from Papa F:
Step Outside of Yourself.
These words are big and bold on my bathroom mirror, so I have to see them multiple times a day. When I'm feeling alone, I am believing a lie that I am not valuable, unloved, and a burden to others. Stepping outside of myself immediately cuts through these lies and allows me to glimpse the version of myself who God is asking me to be.
The three main ways I step outside of myself are in my mission, in my community, and by practicing gratitude.
There is no better way to be grateful for who you are and what you have by serving others. Go to a soup kitchen. Buy the homeless man on the street lunch. Teach someone something. Get involved in a ministry that occurs fairly often to help you get into the habit of serving.
For me, it helps to turn my attention to my relational ministries. Once I start day dreaming about the things I would love to do with my high school girls, I get caught up in the excitement and immediately start making plans. Suddenly I seem to forget my emotional state of loneliness because I want to be there for these girls and show them that they are not alone.
This one is a little harder, because it involves directly addressing the wound I am feeling. But the best way to fight loneliness is to reach out to someone else. Who knows, maybe you will have reached out to them at the perfect time. Write a letter. Call a friend who lives far away. Make plans to grab coffee or ice cream with someone. I don't care if you were the one who initiated hanging out/talking last - kill your pride and offer love to a friend. The moment someone reaches back your belief that others do not care no longer exists. Pour into them, ask them good questions about their lives. Investing in another human pulls you out of yourself and helps you love yourself better.
"Everything sucks and no one likes me." Unfortunately, these words have come out of my mouth plenty of times. Now, I try to sit down at least once a week and write out a list of what I'm grateful for. I don't put a limit, but I try to get to at least ten things. Even if they are simple, like "I'm grateful I can drive myself to work every day," or if they seem silly, like "I'm grateful Lovesick came onto my iPod this morning," write them down and remember the gratitude. Sit with these things, and really allow yourself to be thankful. This can help us force perspective, and can help us focus on what we do have instead of what we think we do not.
So the next time you're feeling lonely or unwanted or unvalued, I challenge you (and myself) to try to remember to step outside of yourself and do one of these things.
BONUS POINTS if you engage in some mission with other people and then are grateful for it later.
P.S. Tried stuff like this and nothing seems to help? Don't hide and don't be ashamed. There's a difference between occasionally being down and lonely and being depressed. Check out this website to find a Catholic therapist near you. Remember, no matter what, you are loved, you are important, and it is okay to need a little help.