“So shake him off….”
Loneliness followed me on my business trip tonight. I know I didn’t pack him in my suitcase, so I imagine that I must have picked him up at a rest stop somewhere on 15S. It even might have been when I stopped for gas on the Garden State, since gas is a full $0.80 cheaper over the line in New Jersey. But somehow, he managed to come with me.
He was with me as I curled up in the over-sized bed, watching the season finale of ‘Once Upon a Time,’ and he scoffed at how happy endings could only happen in those faerie tales. With teeth and claws exposed, he followed me downstairs to the lounge where I had a late dinner. He munched on my french fries and criticized the menu, eyeing me critically as he informed me I shouldn’t eat the french fries anyway.
And tonight, he stayed with me, stealing the pillows and sprawling out on the bed as I tried to write the ever-elusive chapter twelve. With biting sarcasm and sharp criticism, he tore into my infant manuscript. “Why bother? No one will read it. That is, if you ever finish it…” He hides in the shadows and lurks in the darkness, this loneliness. Sometimes he comes with a different name.
Doubt. Pain. Self-consciousness. Self-deprecation. The demons who lurk within us who whisper, “You aren’t good enough.”
Self-esteem, and lack thereof is something that all of us have dealt with at some point in our lives. Dove actually has championed a campaign towards helping young women have a better and healthier self image. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ytjTNX9cg0
I have found that many of us continue to suffer past our formative years. Some of us past high school, where bullying and criticism live around every corner. I find that even now, into my thirties, some nights loneliness will shove his way into my personal space and make me doubt myself. Sometimes this self-consciousness is centered around my creativity, but sometimes it spirals out into the other parts of my life.
So what can we do to avoid this?
- Believe in yourself. I know that it may sound cliche, but it really does work. Have an affirmation of what you want to be. Whether you want to be a writer, or you want to be more confident or more eloquent- stay positive. If you know where you want to get to, its easier to plot the course.
- Talk it out. I’m lucky enough to have a good support system of friends (both in real life and on the internet) who have the unique ability to talk me out of the dark closets I sometimes lock myself into. Ask for help. If it gets dark, know who to talk to to get back into a bright spot. Don’t sit in the closet alone.
- Expect it and accept it. You’re going to have bad days, you’re allowed to have a hard time. No one can be perfect every day.
- Control what you can, release what you can’t. It’s taken me a long time to realize that I can’t make anyone do anything. I can’t make people take me seriously as a writer and I can’t make people listen to me. Everyone’s heard the saying, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” Its easy to take things personally and let the actions of others bring us down. Stay focused on what you can control, doing the best you can. Its all you can do, no matter what anyone else might say.
- Shake it off. Step away from whatever is causing you pain. Find an outlet you enjoy: books, dancing, yoga, meditation, hiking, running, or a combination. Channel the negativity into something positive instead of wallowing in it and letting it pull you down.
And for the record? I called hotel security and had Loneliness escorted out after he tried changing my Spotify playlist…
Stay positive. Stay focused. Chase down that dream and don’t let go. When you focus on what makes you happy, only good things will come to you.