Living through a pandemic is absolutely not meeting the expectations that books and movies have set for me, you guys. I expected to need survival skills like defending myself and living without electricity, not … hoarding toilet paper and figuring out how to cope with no longer having the ability to see people I care about.
I don’t live alone, but trust me when I say that I am struggling with feeling lonely. If you do live alone, or you’re single, I know you’re experiencing your own murky swirl of confusing feels, too.
See, I’m not a super social or outgoing person by nature. On top of that, my life is structured in a way that not a whole lot changed for me when lockdown started. I figured that I would be fine! I would be the friend who bolstered up her other friends who were feeling isolated or starved for human contact! And for a while, I was!
But things aren’t going back to normal (despite whatever phase of reopening we’re in), and they probably won’t for awhile. Knowing that there won’t be any big parties, spontaneous meetups, or singles bar hops in a pandemic might leave some of you feeling desperate, alone, or like you’ll never find a partner. I totally get that, and it’s okay to feel those emotions!
Things aren’t going back to normal for awhile, and that might leave some of you feeling like you’ll never find a partner. And it’s okay to feel those emotions!
So, if you’re single, ready to mingle, and feeling a little stir-crazy because you can’t, this one’s for you.
You’re Not Alone—Just Ask the CDC
The CDC has been collecting data on how coronavirus is impacting mental health for several months now, and while it is saddening to see, it’s also nice to have concrete evidence that we’re all in this together.
According to one CDC survey, nearly 50% of the younger demographics reported spikes in anxiety, stress and depression that haven’t subsided. In June, another poll showed that about 40% of all American adults were struggling with serious mental health issues related to feelings of loneliness and isolation as a result of the pandemic.
I don’t say these things to depress you! Rather, I want to shine a spotlight on the fact that you don’t have to hide your fears, anxieties, or feelings of despair or isolation. Chances are good that almost anyone you talk to is probably going through something similar.
How to Cope When You’re Sick of Searching For Silver Linings
Look, I get it. There are only so many times that you can be told to have more Zoom parties or FaceTime your friends. The reality is that it’s a poor substitute for being able to hug your friend, kiss on the first date, or scream and high-five when your team scores. Sometimes, reality just sucks, and you don’t feel like looking for the silver lining.
Don’t feel bad for feeling that way. It’s normal, and trust me again when I say that it’s better to let yourself express that sadness, anger, or frustration than to bottle it up and pretend that you’re fine!
It’s better to let yourself express that sadness, anger, or frustration than to bottle it up and pretend that you’re fine!
I’m not going to tell you to look on the bright side. Instead, I’m going to offer a few strategies for getting through those low points without feeling like you have to “cheer up.”
1. Do something for yourself
I don’t mean buy something wild off Amazon at 2 a.m. (again). I mean, do something that you’d gladly do for a friend but probably not for yourself because it’s difficult or uncomfortable.
This could be journaling or vlogging honestly about how you feel and offering yourself the same level of compassion and empathy that you would give to a friend. That’s a hard thing to do (speaking from experience), but turning those nurturing feelings inward can really help you feel better.
2. Let yourself wallow (for a little while)
It’s easy to get swept up into self-pity and a spiral of negativity (we’ve all been there!), but this isn’t a binary situation where you either let your feelings get out of control, or you don’t express them at all.
This might sound funny, but try it! Make yourself a great “dramatically staring out a rainy window” sad song playlist, and let yourself be totally immersed in all of your crappy feelings for an hour. Set a timer, and let it out. Cry. Scream into your pillow. Feel alllll of those things you’ve been trying to push away or pretend aren’t that bad.
And then, when the timer is up, turn off your playlist, wash your face, drink some water, and do something that makes you happy (like making a good cup of coffee, or eating a cookie, or listening to a podcast you love).
When you make space for the bad feelings, they’re less overwhelming and easier to manage. Setting a timer helps to shake you out of the funk, and caring for yourself afterward is like a happy reward. You might not feel 100% better when the timer goes off, but you’ll feel lighter! Doing this regularly can be a helpful coping strategy.
3. Remember that you have options
Just because you can’t meet up at a bar or have an in-person spontaneous coffee date in a pandemic doesn’t mean you’re doomed to be single and alone. Yes, it’s best to have video chats and text conversations to get to know someone right now, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. You’re both adults who have the ability to choose how and when you meet in person!
Don’t discount things like masked outdoor walks, and don’t forget that it’s possible to add someone that you connect with to your quarantine pod. Practice being open and honest with potential matches about what you are or aren’t comfortable with doing in regards to pandemic safety.
Don’t think of safety precautions as barriers to a relationship! They can actually help you figure out how deep your connection with a new person goes, so why not lean into them? Turns out, plenty of single people are finding love during the pandemic.
It’s Okay to Be Single Right Now
Whether you chose to be single right now, or the pandemic threw you a curveball, try not to let your feelings of isolation overwhelm you!
You’re not alone. You have options. And right now, no matter how you’re feeling, it’s completely okay. We’ll get through this together, even if we aren’t holding hands while we do it!