So April has almost come and gone and it has been a jammed packed month. The Hallmarkies podcast has been doing great and we currently have a whole bunch of interviews and podcasts stored up ready to be played over the next month or so (or if one of us gets sick). Doing all this prep work, while still producing 2 shows a week (regular episode and tv recap) has been a bit overwhelming but very satisfying. I have also been keeping up my personal channel and had some great interviews/discussions and reviews on there.
As I was looking over the month it occurred to me amongst all the busyness very little of it was with in-person human contact. There are things I did alone like go see Hamilton so at least I was out of the house but with actual people it is pretty sparse:
I saw Ready Player One with Amber and then again with my book club friends (I missed book club this month because I didn’t have time to read it).
I saw Isle of Dogs with my friend Phaedra and that was a delight (both movie and time with friend).
I had Easter with my parents, grandma and brother.
I went to see Camelot with my parents and two of my friends were in it.
I attended study group for church (and church)
And that’s it! The rest including my job were all online. But oddly I do not feel malnourished or socially bereft. In fact, quite the reverse. In just the last week I will have done 5 podcasts including an interview with friends from Israel and Australia. I think it is pretty cool! I also posted to my movie blog and to rotoscopers.com and contributed to other social media posts.
I don’t know. What do you think? What is the right balance of in-person interactions with online? I know mine will never be close to equal but I at least try and make an effort to get outside and see friends in-person. It’s tough but I do the best I can.
I have lots of different readers who enjoy my posts for different reasons. I love every last one of you! This is a religious post probably best suited for my Mormon readers but hopefully encouraging to anyone of faith. If religion isn’t your thing don’t worry will be posting about your favorite topic soon. It’s a huge part of my life so it will come up on the blog from time to time. Love you!
Lately I’ve found myself thinking a lot about my mission. This year marks 10 years since I came home which has given me pause to think about the decade which has come and gone. Plus, I recently played host to my favorite companion Julia Graves and spent time with a sister who also served around my time Lisa Luddington. We’ve shared stories and looked back on all we learned during those very intense 20 months (I extended).
Today I went to a homecoming for a friend and it touched my heart to see how strong she has become. I hope she can keep that strength and faith for a decade as I have striven to do however imperfectly.
As I’ve been thinking about my mission I realized something special it taught me I hadn’t put my finger on before. It taught me how to deal with the loneliness of faith.
Let me explain. There was a time on the mission I was given a companion who was bi-polar and thought that a mission would cure her mental illness. When it obviously didn’t she took her anger out on me and was emotionally and verbally abusive. I was berated as the worst missionary, ugly, stupid, inept, you name it. Then she would go days with the silent treatment which was better but hard when you have to spend 24 hours a day with a person.
It was an especially hard time because I was trying so hard to be a good trainer and obedient. We were opening a new area to sisters so I didn’t know anybody and we were far away from the mission home. On LDS missions you are not allowed to call home, just weekly letters (although my parents did send me flowers. Love them!).
I’m not saying I was perfect because I wasn’t but I was trying to be obedient and I seemed to be punished for that where other people had great training experiences. Plus, how many times can you be told your a terrible missionary before you begin to believe it.
It was one of the loneliest time of my life. That may be surprising because I was with someone all the time but it just goes to show a person can be lonely who is surrounded by people.
Anyway, I thought about coming home but I didn’t want to let my family down especially my younger siblings who needed an example missionary in their lives. I had to call the mission president every night and he helped me to get through every day. I had a sister swap with my MTC comp Sister Noyes and that also helped.
But in the end I had to turn to my Heavenly Father in a way I hadn’t done to that point. He was all I had to really lean on. I read my scriptures and I prayed so hard my knees hurt. And you know what? He filled me up. He let me know I wasn’t a bad missionary. He helped me to forgive her, which was incredibly hard to do. He loved me and I was not the same after that. I was in 100% to the mission and while again I was far from perfect I know I was the missionary He needed me to be.
As hard as that experience was, and it was brutal, it gave me a gift. In the 10 years since I came home there have been lonely times. I don’t need to go into all of them but just trust me there have been lonely times. I’ve felt attacked, disappointed in the choices of others, angry, frustrated, confused and alone, as all humans do from time to time.
But I’ve always had that time on the mission in my pocket to carry me through.
I had discovered God’s ability to strengthen me during the lonely times and have never forgotten it and never will.
If you are feeling lonely or life is giving you a shellacking (we’ve all been there!) maybe it’s a moment God is trying to turn you into something better, like He made me the best missionary I could be? Maybe he is trying to make you strong?
I absolutely believe moments of loneliness are essential to understanding the atonement of Jesus Christ and really applying it to your heart. We need it so bad in those moments and only then are we teachable and humble enough to make the tough choices and rely on His mercy completely. Never forget the scripture says
“I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.”
Recently I was talking to a single friend of mine about my Thanksgiving plans and telling him I was going to be solo this year. He seemed horrified by this notion. Technically I will eat Thanksgiving meal at my aunts house (but wasn’t planning on that at the time of this conversation).
I told him that it was fine with me and I am okay being alone. I told him ‘I am comfortable in my own skin’ and he said ‘I wouldn’t be. It would kill me’.
I guess it’s a normal reaction to being alone on Thanksgiving and some years it would make me sad, but this year I’m ok. I was actually a little bit more sad to be facing Halloween alone (ended up having a great time with 2 couples my friends Danielle and Cory, and Rachel and Grant). The reason I was sad about missing Halloween is that it used to be a highlight of the year with my friends. We would throw a big party, dress up and just have a blast.
I guess the reason I get a little nostalgic for Halloween and New Years is that I know it’s a time that is gone from my life. My friends are almost all married. Like seriously I have 4 or 5 single friends on my phone and they are usually so busy. Even book club has become impossible of late. I get it. I understand people have to be with their little one’s on Halloween and New Years but that doesn’t mean I don’t miss all the good times with friends.
With Thanksgiving I know next year I will likely be with my family and the year after that and onward. There isn’t a feeling of devastation because it’s just a day and like I said I do have friends and family to share the day with.
If you are alone on Thanksgiving and want to still cook a turkey dinner make sure to check out my Thanksgiving for one article I posted last year on my friend Samantha’s awesome food blog.
This year I am going to order a Thanksgiving meal from Harmons (a local grocery) that make delicious food so that I have some thanksgiving food besides the meal at my aunts. (My knee isn’t quite up to preparing feasts yet)
Anyway, this conversation about being alone at Thanksgiving and my friend being so horrified at the idea made me think about my life. I am alone a lot. Even though I have a roommate and tenants we don’t really get to sit down and spend time together that often. It’s so much effort to get together with friends but I am a very social person and I do make that effort, but still I am often alone.
Many people have a fear or social anxiety about eating alone or going to the movies alone . Eating I get a little bit because you don’t have anyone to talk to but I do not understand why people care about going to the movies alone? You can’t talk in the movies so unless you are there with your honey and can snuggle I don’t see the value in having another person accompany you to the movies? Please someone explain why that is such a social faux pas?
In fact, I realized today that all the movies I have been to this year have been alone. I have seen in the theater- Boyhood, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Ghostbusters, Meet the Mormons, Edge of Tomorrow, Guardians of the Galaxy, Book of Life and The Boxtrolls and Big Hero 6. None of those experiences were hurt by being alone? I don’t get it?
But anyway, I feel like there is this anxiety many feel about being alone. My Mother gets very nervous being alone .In fact, she has probably spent under 5 nights in her whole life alone without family of some kind with her. That blows my mind. She’s very fortunate that life has worked out that way for her.
I would love to have my own family and fall in love but that’s not the cards God has dealt me. My job is to be as happy as I can be with the life I have. And never forget I am surrounded by amazing people. Whether it is reaching out to someone on phone, Facebook, twitter, this or my disney blog, my channel, or someone in my ward there is no shortage of people who care and love me. That’s the great part about being single in this day and age.It is so easy to not feellonely even if you are alone.
That doesn’t mean I don’t have bad days. I do. I have days where I feel sad and bemoan the fact I may never have my own children or a great love story. It may happen but it may not. I’m a human being just like anyone else and I express the full range of human emotions at different times of my life.
But I can confidently say being alone is not a fear for mine. It is the reality of my life and I always know that with God I am never truly alone.
So if you are alone this holiday season know that you have a friend here at this blog and on social media who knows how you are feeling- both on your good days and bad. I get it. I love you and we can support each other.
Take care my friends and god bless!
Btw thanks to Emily and Megan today for calling me out of the blue and cheering me up! I’ve got such great friends and family to support me.
“It is easier to live through someone else than to complete yourself. The freedom to lead and plan your own life is frightening if you have never faced it before. It is frightening when a woman finally realizes that there is no answer to the question ‘who am I’ except the voice inside herself.” Betty Friedan.
“What person is for himself, what abides with him in his loneliness and isolation, and what no one can give or take away from him, this is obviously more essential to him than everything that he possesses or what he may be in the eyes of others” Schopenhauer
This is going to be one of my long rambling posts where I think about life that nobody reads and I’m okay with that. I decided a couple of weeks ago that I’m happy with what I write and that is most important. It is my blog after all.
…but it may be helpful to someone out there so read and ponder along with me. 🙂
Sometimes I feel confused about myself. I am a creature full of contradictions, and at times it feels like God wants it that way. Today is a perfect example. I went visiting teaching and felt so connected to my girls. I really felt like I made 2 new friends, cultivated an existing friendship, and shared a message all 4 of us needed to hear. Days like today I feel like I have a way of creating friends and interacting with others that not everyone can. I’m not saying this to boast but ever since my days of being bullied I have never had a hard time making friends.
I actually enjoy public speaking and teaching and it seems like I can usually find a way to reach my audience. Someone told me today ‘I really enjoyed your talk you gave a while back’. Thiswas a talk given in March and he remembered it. I found that to be amazing. 9 months and he remembered it. I’ve also had great experiences putting together parties, swimfests, bookclubs, a writing group and any number of other group activities. I’m a natural leader and gatherer.
Even on twitter I have made wonderful dear friends and felt a comfort level around strangers which most people do not share. This blog is certainly abundant proof of that!
I’m also a very loyal person and most of my friends stay friends for years. In fact, loyalty and honesty are essential to me in any friendship. I have friends from high school, college, people I’ve traveled with, been in wards with (pretty much all of them girls…don’t know why that is the case), swim friends (some of them are guys!), and just so many treasured relationships. I feel so grateful and have certainly not done anything that warrants such a blessing from God.
Here’s where the contradiction comes in…
After visiting teaching I put up Christmas decor myself, cooked a meal for one, and went to meet with the bishop alone. We talked about my individual scripture study and how I can do better. We talked about my life and how independent I have to be. How I have to stay motivated and be persistent or it will not happen. There is nobody to push me along and challenge me to read scriptures everyday, go to the temple, exercise, or whatever worthy goal I am trying to accomplish in my life. It’s all on me…
I am probably the most independent person I know. Ever since I was little, and I mean little, I wanted to do things in my way, under my control. I hated being a kid. I hated being told what to do and how to do it.
It was my dream to have my own place, my own space, my own life. I never remember dreaming about what kind of husband or kids I would have. In fact, for years while being open to love I was antagonistic about the idea of having a family. To me it was a giant life and freedom suck. I’d seen how hard it was to have little kids and I wanted none of it. (Sorry but I grew out of it. I promise!)
I don’t know many other Mormon girls that grew up wanting to be independent and free but that’s the way it was for me and that’s the way it has turned out. I’ve always been a bit mystified by love and the dependence couples seem to have on each other. I’ve grown to a point where I want it but still don’t really understand the innate human need for it and yet…
I am lost without friendships and human bonding. So maybe it is just love that confuses me? Romantic love? I don’t know.
I remember one time on my mission my trainer and I were talking about marriage and life. I told her I didn’t know if I wanted to take my husband’s last name. I like my name. She said “This from the woman who wears a pink sweater every day” (and I really did wear a pink sweater a lot on mission. Look at the photos!). And yet both statements were equally true. A contradiction….I feel like I have lot of those in my life.
Today I realized that in many ways the last 2 years have made me even more independent. I didn’t think it was possible but it’s true. I am now a homeowner, I lived alone for 3 years happily before that, spent holidays alone, traveled alone and my spiritual sustenance is now maintained alone. Any leaning I was doing on another’s faith has had to be replaced with my own knowledge and strong conviction. I don’t know anyone else that has been forced to be independent in more ways than I have.
Sometimes it seems like God wants me to be more independent and self reliant but in other ways he puts more people in my path to help and nurture. People who need me and I desperately need them. This is a good thing but it can leave me vulnerable to the lonely moments, which you would think someone who is so independent wouldn’t have. Yep, still have them…
How can one human being need people so badly yet fundamentally resist them as part of my nature? I truly have both yearnings and always have.
So, the giant Rachel tug of war will probably always continue. One side needing and thriving on community and love, and the other needing isolation and freedom from what other people have planned for my life.
A contradiction…Does this make sense to any of you? Do you see these 2 sides in your own life? Can any of you relate?
Here’s the deal- being single is hard. People can pretend like it isn’t and want you to talk about rainbows and butterfly’s but it is hard. Why do you think people cry at weddings? It’s a primal urge to find someone who loves you and can share a life with you.
From the beginning of time marriage, love, companionship was defined as a part of human nature. God told Adam and Eve ‘it is not good for man to be alone’.
So where does that leave us singlites? We have to set the primal needs aside and most of the time pretend like they don’t really matter, like we are strong enough, independent enough to not need them. Sometimes we even fool ourselves into believing we are better because of our defiance of human nature but this is mostly lip service for an ache that is always there. It may cause us to feel defensive because like any wounded creature we bark back at those encircling us.
Fortunately most of us have to function so we bottle up that ache and only bring it out from time to time when we feel pricked or particularly bruised. You try to remain hopeful but then you’ll have a moment where you are driving and you realize ‘I haven’t been on a date in a year’. How did this happen? It’s hard to feel hopeful in those moments.
That’s where this blog comes into play. The fact is I can only get so far by myself. Think about it- in the rush for self improvement I will only improve those things that are the most natural and pleasant for me to address. There is no companion or helpmeet to give me a dope slap and say ‘shape up’.
And friends are amazing but typically not present enough on a daily or even weekly basis to provide the type of feedback a girl needs for true change and growth. They are the happiness in life but as far as life coaches they can fall short. Even parents as great as they are can find it hard to relate to the worries and fears of a single, solitary life.
So, you put on your happy face and you share your feelings in the one way you have. Sometimes I feel like this blog is my spouse and that I’m wondering what he would say and what suggestions he would offer. I wonder what movies he will like and if he is a reader or thinker like me. Does he like sports? Is he good with kids or a bit of a mess like me? For a second you can suspend belief and talk to him through the great mass of internet blur.
I’ve always said that the greatest compliment I could receive is if someone read my blog and then wanted to go on a date with me. It would be like someone seeing my heart and then saying ‘I like that. I’d like to learn more’.
At least I know for sure that God does understand. And he has His reasons for any challenge. If there are things I need to improve He will tell me. I do not have to wait until heaven to get the dope slap from deity. Believe me. I’ve felt it and I’ve lived it. That makes all the difference.
But…you still miss and wonder and cry a little. And then you talk to Him and write to the world with hope and gratitude.
That’s what its all about.
Here’s the deal- Being alive is hard and no matter who tells you to think of butterfly’s and rainbows it is but there are outlets and hopes. He does make a way to not be alone.
Nobody ever reads my thoughtful, pondering posts so if you agree or learned something let me know. 😉
ps. If anyone wants to set me up I’m totally game. See I’m still hopeful. 😉
pps. Hopefully this post isn’t too depressing. I just have to share my feelings in the outlets I have. Thank you!
So recently I came across two quotes about love/friendship. They couldn’t be more contrasting.
A soulmate is someone who has locks that fit our keys, and keys to fit our locks. When we feel safe enough to open the locks, our truest selves step out and we can be completely and honestly who we are; we can be loved for who we are and not for who we’re pretending to be. Each unveils the best part of the other. No matter what else goes wrong around us, with that one person we’re safe in our own paradise.
“Loneliness is the human condition. Cultivate it. The way it tunnels into you allows your soul room to grow. Never expect to outgrow loneliness. Never hope to find people who will understand you, someone to fill that space. And intelligent, sensitive person is the exception, the very great exception. If you expect to find people who will understand you, you will grow murderous with disappointment. The best you’ll ever do is to understand yourself, know what it is that you want, and not let the cattle stand in your way.”
― Janet Fitch, White Oleander
I used to believe more in the Bach quote but now I’m firmly planted in the Fitch. Sigh…
What do you think? Which idea of friendship is right or are both wrong? What is your idea of a great relationship? What is the ideal? What should we be striving for?
As all my facebook fans know I’ve been deeply absorbed in a new non-fiction read: Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone by Eric Klinenberg. Through both anecdotal and statistical evidence Klinenberg examines the new reality of 31 million US residents—roughly one out of every seven adults—live alone.
By the way, I love a good non-fiction. Reading this book reminded me of the excitement I felt when I read The Great Good Place by Ray Oldenberg, Bowling Alone by Robert Putnam- which discusses social and political loneliness not living arrangements, Urban Tribes by Ethan Waters, and The Big Sort by Bill Bishop. Books like this make you feel validated because someone is taking your life choices seriously and examining them for both good and bad side effects.
The book description sums it up best “Though conventional wisdom tells us that living by oneself leads to loneliness and isolation, Klinenberg shows that most solo dwellers are deeply engaged in social and civic life. In fact, compared with their married counterparts, they are more likely to eat out and exercise, go to art and music classes, attend public events and lectures, and volunteer. There’s even evidence that people who live alone enjoy better mental health than unmarried people who live with others and have more environmentally sustainable lifestyles than families, since they favor urban apartments over large suburban homes.”
Recently this has been on my mind because in moving to the family ward I have found an untold number of people who are surprised even shocked that I live alone. This happened so frequently that I began to feel hesitant in bringing it up and perhaps a bit of defensiveness. Who, after all, does not feel a little bit defensive when their lifestyle is questioned.
This reaction is particularly weighted in my community where marriage is not only a goal for a happy life but a requirement for exaltation and eternal life. By choosing to live alone during this portion of my life some may fear I have abandoned hope of meeting Mr. Sunshine, or that I have something against marriage. This couldn’t be further from the truth. I strongly support traditional marriage and believe it is a holy institution.
From my view living alone is proof of that support. I value the institution enough to not settle for anything less than the right person.
That said- I value my life enough to keep moving forward and progressing with or without a man. Perhaps this feels more natural to me because I’ve never really had a romantic partner. Not sure why but it is the truth. I have always been a social butterfly, with lots of friends and activities but never met someone I wanted to date more than a couple times or certainly marry. The way I see it finding the right person is not in my control. I can do what I can but even when doing those things he may not come into my life. God has His reasons for this and I trust Him.
What can I control? I can control where and how I live my life. I can control how hard I work, what friends are worth nurturing and what activities are worth my time. For me, living alone is my opportunity to control my life in a definite and concrete way. I love that!
For example, by attending church each week I am deciding what I believe and want to dedicate my life to. There is no one else to get me out the door or push me into getting ready. I am not doing it to set an example for children or to keep a relationship happy. I am doing it because I believe it is true and the best way to live MY LIFE.
People often seem worried about my social life living alone and that a sense of isolationism will overtake me. I’m not going to lie and say that never happens but as Klinenberg points out loneliness can happen in any situation. In an interview of a woman named Helen he says:
“In Helen’s view for most of us loneliness is inevitable. It’s part of the human conditions, and she rejects the belief that living alone is its source. ‘People are in an incredible panic to avoid being alone in the room with themselves’, she explains, but their desperation can lead to disaster because ‘there’s nothing more lonely than being with the wrong person…When a relationship doesn’t go well, its a very lonely situations. You can’t go to the person that you’re with for help because, in your eyes, they are the problem. So you become a little island all to yourself within that relationship, and it’s very lonely'”
I would wager to say that even in the healthiest of relationships there are periods of isolation and loneliness that top anything I have felt through living alone . There are a few moments where I wish I could call on someone to help with the groceries or fold the laundry (laundry I detest). The times I wish I didn’t live alone the most is when I am sick because there is no one there to take care of me and nurse me. Luckily such moments are few and far between and I make do. In general I believe I am not a lonely person despite living and working alone.
Many singles, particularly single women, who live alone are remarkably active and social in their community. “The General Social Survey, which is the largest study of American social behavior, shows that single women above age 35 (divorced as well as married) are more likely than their married contemporaries to do the following activities: see or visit a best friend at least weekly, have a ‘non-visit’ contact with a best friend at least weekly, spend a social evening with neighbors, regularly participate in informal group activities and be a member of a secular social group. ”
The great thing about living alone is all of those interactions are done by my choosing. I am not forced to be friends with my husbands peers or make nice with my kids friends parents. Is that not a blessing?
Klinenberg goes on to say that not only can it be a blessing to live alone but it is in many ways the fulfillment of the American spirit. The idea of self reliance and rugged individualism is woven into the fabric of the American dream. Ralph Waldo Emerson said in his essay ‘Self Reliance’ that “society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members” and “Absolve you to yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the world”.
Henry David Thorough made the case for self reliance by moving out to Walden pond and living alone “I have, as it were, my own sun and moon and stars, and a little world all to myself” . That’s how I feel about my apartment. It is a little world all to myself. I have a form of freedom that is not possible in a relationship, and while I would love to meet someone, I don’t think there is anything wrong for appreciating the life I have, while I have it.
As a silly example, I have pink bed sheets and pink curtains with 2 Audrey Hepburn posters on my wall as a headboard of sorts. Could I have this room when I marry? Probably not and I’m OK with that but its exciting to do things uniquely my way while I have the chance.
I also have the freedom to live my life the way I want. For example, a friend of mine recently told me about the efforts his wife makes at keeping him on a diet. Portioning out food, making only healthy recipes and scolding him when he diverges off the plan. I laughed when he told me saying ‘and people think in Mormon marriages the man rules the roost!’. In some ways this is very touching and loving but it made me feel proud of my own weight loss journey. I did it on my own with no micromanaging from anyone. While everyone’s support has been key the day-to-day decisions are mine.
There are also more silly benefits of living alone including full usage of the fridge (and particularly freezer space), full control of the television and the DVR space, freedom to keep the home as clean or messy as you wish, and entertain as little or as much as you prefer without asking permission from roommates or spouses.
I can also put up whatever Christmas tree or other holiday decor I want without consulting any other opinion. My apartment is something that is mine and mine alone. Is there not something appealing about creating your own space that is just for you? I am sure if I do get married I will still need my own space whether it be in the form of a garden, park, room or even a jetted tub!
I also have complete discretion on how I spend my money, which to me is very empowering. I can take a long shower or turn my heat up to whatever I want. I can take a trip if I decide I have the money for it. I can go out to eat or get frozen yogurt before dinner. I can lead the life I want to lead. I love that!
I enjoyed living with roommates for years, had 31 of them from 17 to 28. I had good relationships with all of my roommates and 3 of my current best friends were former roommates. I loved creating a mini-family with my friends but there just became a time where I needed to move on from an adolescent roommate experience to a fully functional grown up living on my own experience.
The cravings to have my own space really started after my mission- the ultimate shared experience, 24/7 no breaks with a total stranger. I was a little scared at first that it might be socially difficult but I’m so active with church, gym, voice lessons, friends etc that I honestly have not felt lonely much. In fact, I revel in the sanctuary I’ve created for just ME! Aside from getting married, I don’t think I would like having a roommate again, even with someone I love like a family member or dear friend.
I’ve always been fiercely independent, so in many ways living alone is the ultimate example of my nature. I have achieved independence in every way possible and yet I’m still a remarkably social and giving person. I have found a lifestyle that I like, even if it stumps and confuses others. Hopefully by knowing me people’s views will be expanded and stereotypes erased (speaking of stereotypes… I do not own a cat. I’m allergic!).
I work alone. I live alone. I’ve traveled alone. I go to the movies alone (something that befuddles most people) but in truth I am never really alone. Jesus Christ and His spirit are always with me. I have spent probably a cumulative month of my life feeling truly alone and those were some of the hardest days, but learning to reach for my Savior during those tough times made me a believer to the end. He has never abandoned me in the lonely times. If anything I feel His presence more and more with each tear I might cry.
I promise I want to get married, so please don’t read this thinking ‘Rachel is getting too set in her ways’. Send Mr. Sunshine my way and I’m all over it. 🙂