Have you ever felt completely surrounded by people yet totally alone?
I vividly remember one Friday night standing against a wall at a party, surrounded by people—people I would even call friends—and feeling like no one really saw me.
I was talking with those around me, interacting, dancing along with the party playlist, and yet I felt out of place. I knew the people around me, yet I didn’t feel known. It’s not like anyone was ignoring me…I just felt invisible.
I remember leaving that night disappointed, discouraged, and defeated. I had shown up, I had tried, I had engaged…yet I felt like for some reason I just didn’t measure up. I felt unseen, unnoticed, and unknown. And at the root of it all, I felt like I just didn’t matter.
But you know what makes me sad? That night in particular wasn’t the first time I felt alone in the midst of a sea of people before. I’ve felt and struggled through these emotions for years. I remember similar scenarios throughout high school, college, and now as a professional. I’m constantly surrounded by people, and yet I often feel so very alone.
Why is that?
As I continue to become who God made me to be, I need to know who I am and be very aware of what’s going on within me emotionally, physically, relationally, mentally and spiritually. In order to take the best next step God puts in front of me, I need to know where I am right now, right?
In becoming more aware of what is going on in Emily, I started becoming more aware of when I feel alone and began asking myself some hard questions to understand why I was feeling that way. And you know what…I’ve discovered several things to be true:
- Often, feeling alone is just that—a feeling. Feelings left unattended can run wild and take root like weeds, ruining the most beautiful of flower gardens. When doubts and insecurities begin to take root in my mind, I begin embracing lies as feelings. Those feelings—which began as simple thoughts left unchecked—left unquestioned and unchallenged spiral into me believing I’m alone…when truly I’m not, I’m simply blinded by a lie.
- I don’t always set myself up to win. In becoming aware of the moments I began spiraling into feeling alone, I began noticing a recurring pattern. Often in the moments I felt alone, I was in an environment I wasn’t totally comfortable in or didn’t want to be at in the first place. In realizing this, I began to understand that I wasn’t setting myself up to win by walking into environments that didn’t encourage me to be who God made me to be.
- Social media isn’t always a true reflection of reality. I can find myself scrolling through glossy Instagram photos thinking, “Wow. It literally looks like they’re having the best time. Why wasn’t I invited? What’s wrong with me?” I translate images into reality and compare my worth to whether I was included in the glossy photo capture or not. But here’s the thing: I wasn’t even there…I have no idea what the dynamics of the environment were or what went into that moment. I’m simply creating a version of reality based upon my imagination and milliseconds worth of information.
- Feeling alone is more about myself than about those around me. In the story from the party I shared earlier, my feeling alone didn’t stem from something that happened or didn’t happen. It came solely from me not being confident in who God created me to be. My greatest discovery in being self-aware has been that my feeling alone starts and ends with me, what I choose to believe, who I choose to be, and Who I choose to trust.
Knowing, embracing and understanding what’s going on within me, I am now equipped to combat the lies that I am alone. You see, if you’re a follower of Jesus Christ, you are never alone!
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)
“Be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t give them a second thought because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 (MSG)
Please hear me: I am with you. Feeling alone is real, it hurts and it stings. It feels heavy and awkward, leaving you unsteady, unsure what to do with how you’re feeling. It feels paralyzing. And there are moments when others do intentionally exclude, not invite, and leave out. I’m so sorry you’ve experienced that pain. We lose friends, loved ones, confidants, parents, communities, and family. Tragedy and heartbreak wreck the walls of our hearts and then we’re left standing in the wreckage. I’m so sorry for your loss.
Know this: I’m learning that life happens and feels like it happens to me a lot. But frankly I’m tired of living in reaction mode. While there are many, many things I can’t control, there is one thing I can control: me. That’s the sole reason I decided to lace up my boots and really focus on becoming more self-aware. That’s why I’m asking myself hard questions. That’s why I’m arming myself with a warrior plan. Yes, a warrior plan.
I’m going to struggle through feelings—feelings of doubt, insecurity, and feeling alone. But what I choose to do next with those feelings defines me. So, I’ve established a warrior plan in order to stand strong, remain true to who I am, and to keep my eyes on the One who created me and never leaves me:
- Breathe in TRUTH with the Word of God. I grab my Bible—the greatest love story on earth—and read God’s promises and who He says I am.
- Sing it out. I grab a playlist of songs reminding me I’m not alone and just worship—verbalizing out loud truth and worshipping God for who He is. Here’s a playlist of a few of my favorites!
- Remind myself of what I know to be true. I walk through what I’ve discovered, ask myself hard questions, walk in grace, and remind myself of who I am and Whose I am. I remind myself of the truth that I do matter and I am not alone.
- Call or text one of my 6am friends. I have a few close friends who I could call at any time and they would be there for me. When I struggle with feeling alone, I let my 6am friends know so that they can pray with and for me and remind me of the truth that God says about me.
- Go for a run. When I’m frustrated or feeling alone, I’m tempted to grab a case of Oreos and a carton of mint chocolate chip ice cream while watching re-runs of my favorite TV show. While there is an appropriate time to rest, binge watching Netflix and single-handedly devouring all of the chocolate I can get my hands on doesn’t make me feel better or help me work through what I’m feeling in a positive, constructive, uplifting way. So, instead, I’m training myself to lace up my running shoes and go for a run. I’m discovering that engaging in physical activity helps me release my emotions and frustrations, and ultimately helps me clear my thinking!
- Invite a friend to do something fun. Often I wait for others to take the initiative in inviting me to go somewhere or do something fun. I’m learning and discovering that if we’re all waiting for someone else to do the inviting, no one will end up hanging out! If I want to do something with friends, I’m learning to take the initiative and send the invite.
- Write about it. Writing helps me process what I’m thinking and later provides me with incredible perspective as I’m seeking to understand what’s going on inside me. Writing about my thoughts and feelings also helps me see how I’ve grown and areas I can continue to grow in.
- Shake it off. At the end of the day, I have to choose to combat feeling alone by shaking it off. The only thing I can control is me and rather than spending my time consumed with self-doubt and feeling alone, I’m choosing to be the warrior God created me to be and do something about it.
Are you with me? Friend, you are a warrior. You do matter. And you’re not alone. Together, let’s take the first step in believing that today. What steps are on your warrior plan? I’d love to hear how you’re combating feeling alone! Leave a comment below or email me here!