A belated happy solstice- blessed be! <3 The days get longer from now.
Today I’m writing about spending Christmas solo, after a request from ‘Jay’. Thankyou for getting in touch. <3
At the moment I’m on holiday. Kind of. 😛 I’m taking a bit of time to focus on all this writing and plan next year’s exploring route. Many of my best adventures happen with no planning whatsoever but there are some that need a bit of research. I’ve also been having some self-doubt for the past few months- I know it happens to everyone but I’m throwing everything I have into this little blog and when I did a stupid thing and compared my successes with others, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I’ve been:
1) Kidding myself that I could ever make anything like a living as a writer
2) Afraid that I’m wasting this awesome life and will end up trapped in a dead end job because I focussed on my passion instead of my pension.
3) Lonely and missing conversation with fellow oddballs who also have weird jobs. Groups in which I blend in just a little more.
But then a few things happened;
– I had a pitch accepted by MessyNessyChic- an ‘oddities and curiosities’ website with a greater readership than Vogue online (!) You can read it here.
– I just hit 2000 followers on Instagram (I had 200 this time last year)
– Readership on here is the highest it’s ever been (thankyou, awesome people!)
– I had a wonderful day recently; I went to hear a talk about Charles Manson by the last policeman to interview him, followed by a party for feminist alt-model-interesting types which turned into a sleepover with lots of new friends.
– I was mailed twice in one day with blog requests. One is this post and the other is urbex related- I’ll post it in a couple of weeks. It means a lot to me that you want to hear from me. Thankyou.
I wish I always felt as tough as I look but sometimes you just have to fake it until awesomeness kicks in.
So… I’ve blogged about combatting loneliness but this time of year can be especially hard if you’re on your own and unhappy about it- even worse if you’re on your own in another country. Being alone and unhappy about it is doubly hard at Christmas* when it is taken for granted that everybody is skipping around happy as a clam and hoping for snow. My tips are based on advice from fellow travellers I asked as well as experiences I’ve had travelling alone and feeling disconnected from the rest of the world.
* Or any other festival/celebration that is a huge thing in your country/town/group.
A lot depends if you’re at home or on the road and if you prefer to “fake it ’til you make it” or hide in a cocoon. Either way, the first thing to know is this:
1) You are not alone. It feels that way but I promise you are not the first person to go solo this Christmas and you won’t be the last.
2) You do not have to love Christmas.
It’s sometimes harder to have a good time when everybody is trying to force you to enjoy yourself- like being the only sober person in a room full of really drunk people. If your surroundings are making you feel worse, it is totally okay to leave.
I went through a four-year period of dreading Christmas due to a few circumstances and one year I promised myself that I would enjoy it again. It didn’t have to be that year, or even the next- but one day in the future, I would. If you normally LOVE Christmas, you’re going to be okay- you’ll enjoy it again. If you hate it, that’s fine too- do what works for you and if that means doing a runner, go for it.
3) Ask yourself this: What WOULD you enjoy?
It’s something I do if I’m in a bad place mentally and can’t figure out how to fix it. If I could be anywhere/do anything, what would I do? Where would I go? The answer should tell you what you need. If you want to be in a tent on top of a mountain, you probably need to shut the doors, put a DVD on and tell the world to get lost. If it’s eating marshmallows with a small group of close friends, give one of a them a call or text.
IF YOU ARE…
4) …at home and determined to be Christmassy. No. Matter. What.
Throw all your energy into making the place festive. Decorate. Get your favourite food in. See if you can video call anyone- try to schedule phone and video calls throughout the day(s) so that you feel you are sharing the day with people.
Are you in any facebook groups for your hobbies, interests etc? If not, join some, quick! Big international groups mean members living in different timezones- there’s always somebody awake.
5) …at home and doing your best burrito impersonation.
Stack up the DVDs and playlists in advance. Get excited about watching something you’ve never had a chance to sit down and see. Is there anything you’ve always wanted to do? Learn a language or a recipe? Dedicate your day to it.
If you have noisy neighbours, are you able to get out of the house and visit somewhere really remote? If you can get away to a local beauty spot with a book and hot water bottle, consider doing that. It’s amazing experiencing total quiet without a single decibel of human noise.
6) …on the road like the fat guy in red.
Try and book yourself into an airbnb or hostel. Hostels will be full of people away from home, determined to celebrate and share traditions. If there’s something that you do in your country or family, introduce it to the people you’re with. If you’ve really clicked with someone, buy each other a small gift to unwrap!
7) …on the Scrooge/Grinch lovechild roadshow.
Can you go to a place where Christmas isnt a big thing? Most of Asia and parts of Africa aren’t so Christmas-heavy. If this isn’t an option, is a retreat viable instead? If you book a self-catering cabin and stock up on food, you can shut yourself away from Christmas Eve until Boxing Day (or longer if you like). If so, make the place you are staying feel as cosy as possible and follow the advice for the people at home.
If you’re really stuck in a dormitory, it may be time to fake the lurgy. Make a sign that says “Happy Christmas, everyone! I have the flu and am trying to sleep it off. Have a great day and thankyou for not disturbing me.” Then pin it to a towel or sheet (you can borrow them from reception) and hang it up as a curtain. Instant hideaway.
If there’s a more serious reason you’re struggling at the moment, there are so places you can turn. The gift of mental health is a very underrated present for any time of year and you deserve it. On that note…
8) There is no shame in asking for help.
It is not a weakness to admit you can’t do it all on your own this time. If your leg fell off, you’d ask for someone to lean on, wouldn’t you?! If you are in a really bad place, call for help. It’s no coincidence that suicide rates and calls to the Samaritans rise over Christmas. If you need somebody to talk to, ask. You are not too trivial. Sure, somebody may well have it worse than you but that does not negate the fact that you also need assistance. Do this one thing for yourself. <3
9) Remember Christmas itself is a day.
Christmas Day lasts for 24 hours- the same length as any other day. If you’ve been having a hard time of it this year, once the ‘big day’ itself is over, things start to quieten down in the twilight zone between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Make a New Year’s plan- even if you aren’t a big fan of proper ‘resolutions’, even if the only plan is ‘have a better Christmas next year than this year’. It’s a reason to look ahead to something exciting, and there’s always something exciting ahead if you want there to be.
For you, celebrating…
And for you, making a nest…
Top photo by Arrow Photography