Before I say anything else, I want you to know that I feel you. I’ve been where you are before, and I know how excruciatingly hard it can be to navigate the world alone and lonely during the holidays. The media is filled with ads of happy families spending small fortunes on gifts in sparkly boxes, and opening them together by the fireplace. Scrolling through social media can also be tough, as people love to highlight idyllic moments (it’s in our nature), and build up the magic of the holidays. If there’s anything that can make you feel extra lonely, is this built up image of the perfect family during the holidays.
When I moved to the USA from Macedonia to attend University, I was aware that my parents couldn’t afford to buy me plane tickets to go home for EVERY school break. As understanding as I was, spending any holiday alone was always very tough. Personally, I was fortunate enough to stumble across an incredible local community that took me and all other international students in for the holidays. These are some of my warmest memories from college, gathering around a 20+ person thanksgiving table with friends and strangers alike, and feeling a sense of belonging.
If you’re alone this winter, here are some things you could do:
- Check out local community centers, churches, or universities. When I lived in London I worked at a Charity Organization called The Passage, and they hosted a beautiful Christmas dinner for so many people that had nowhere to go. I got to meet some incredible people there, that I’m still friends with to this day.
- Actually have a friend that’s nearby? Ask to tag along with them during the holidays, I doubt they’d say no and you’d be exposed to some fun new traditions. I’ve been lucky to have some incredible friends whose families have become my families along the way.
- Plan a day out. If you’re at a university, reach out to some other people staying behind and ask them if they want to come see a movie with you. If not, take yourself out to the cinema. Popcorn, candy, soda – the whole deal. You deserve a day of fun!
- You know that extra long book you’ve been eyeing but never have the time to get into? Pick it up and get lost in it. Books not your thing? Spend hours playing a video game, making art, or *insert your favorite hobby here*.
- Volunteer. I know this kind of seems counterintuitive, but volunteering is an incredible way to give back to your community. Volunteering will keep you so busy and distracted, that you won’t even have time to feel lonely. Plus, you might score a free meal, and you’ll meet some lovely and kind people along the way.
- Head out to a bar / pub. Whether you people-watch and or make friends with other lonely people, you’ll get to enjoy a pint along the way.
- Count your blessings. You might be feeling lonely, but this season will soon be over, and I’m sure you have some things to be grateful for. A roof over your head? Friends? Food? Always stay grateful.
If you’re reading this and you are NOT alone for the holidays, please reach out to anyone who you think might be, and invite them over for some family festivities. Everyone can use a family this winter, even if it’s not their own.