On Loneliness

On Loneliness

Life has loveliness to sell,

All beautiful and splendid things,

Blue waves whitened on a cliff,

Soaring fire that sways and sings,

And children's faces looking up

Holding wonder like a cup.

Sara Teasdale

Apparently, when you’re young and single, it’s the perfect time to find yourself. I’ve been told this by a lot of people, and even though I get eye-rolly when they say it, I know it’s true.

Just yesterday, my mentor (a wife and mom balancing multiple careers) quite literally ran into the house after an interior design meeting, on the phone with a lawyer, flipping through market receipts while wrangling kids into sports jerseys, coaching her son on contentment, and coordinating weekend plans with her husband. In the middle of this rowdiness, she slapped both hands, palms down, on the kitchen counter and looked me in the eyes.

“Elizabeth, enjoy your singleness,” she said breathlessly, in humorous desperation. “Enjoy it! You don’t have to worry about anyone but yourself!”

Her husband stood to the side, completely ignoring the fact that this could be a passive aggressive comment directed toward him...

“But we love marriage??” He teased, affectionately wrapping his arms around his frazzled wife.

Yes. They love marriage. She assured me up and down that marriage is incredible. But it’s costly. It means sacrificing your time, the way you like things done, some goals, and a little personal space. It requires laying down your life and living with the uncomfortable reality that, in order to make this work, you’ll need to serve and forgive and let go.

And tonight, as I sit alone on my patio, just me and a glass of wine and no evening plans, I’m beginning to understand what she means. The single life is good. It’s free and it’s wide open. It may not always feel good or look good; most days, I’m a hot mess with a lousy attitude who wants more friends, more dates, and relational security. I look around and see a bunch of empty space, and I want that space to fill itself.

But filling the empty space is up to me. Making the most of loneliness means not nursing the discomfort of emptiness but creatively discovering new ways to fill it. Singleness may not always naturally fill our time or our hearts, but there is plenty of fullness to be experienced if we only choose to fill the space with, well, whatever the heck we want.

In loneliness, there is both freedom and there is ache. They exist together. But there is also loveliness. There is a garden full of seed and sunlight and time. This space is fertile soil waiting to flourish. So what will you plant? What will you tend to and wait for?

Because being romantically unattached leaves room for deep growth and undistracted focus for right now. So let’s use it. Let’s fill up the space with stillness, dreaming, going, doing, reaching for the stars. It will feel lonely at times because growth begins under the surface. But those feelings are not the end nor are they in charge. The outcome of this season will be so sweet and colorful if we press in and fill our emptiness with intention.

What do you love? What have you always dreamed of doing but have never done? Who would your younger self be proud of? Take one step closer to being that person.

Acknowledge the emptiness and redeem the loneliness, one choice at a time. And make sure you throw in few wild dreams and belly laughs. Don’t forget to hold wonder with open hands. Make time to simply breathe and enjoy beauty. This season is good, my friends. And it’s probably pretty short… (I don’t actually know this).

Windrose Magazine Issue 2

Windrose Magazine is your guide to navigating life in your twenties through a collection of essays, interviews, and advice that will inspire you to chart your own life course, free of comparison.

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