Winter is always described as the loneliest of months.
It’s cold out. People are hibernating inside with oversized sweaters and warm socks and gathered around the fireplace with their loved ones.
Winter is isolating. The weather and dark days keep us locked inside the comfort of our homes.
I have felt this—this isolation, an ever-present awareness of my own singleness. I have gone back to ex-partners because of this absence in my heart, I have received texts from people looking to reconnect over the holidays, and I have watched rom-coms and maybe shed a tear or two because I can’t help but wish it was me living this romance.
But this year is different. This year, I wake up in my attic bedroom and hear the faint sounds of rain against my ceiling window because I’m in Dublin and this is what winter here is like. I move slowly; stretching and stirring in bed and feel the comfort of my blankets wrapped around my body. I wear my favourite cardigan downstairs where it’s colder and I make a turmeric latte with oat milk on the stovetop.
In the evening, I go to yoga and come home and make myself dinner while watching an episode of something on Netflix and I feel full. Of food, yes, but also of life.
A partner—my person—would be nice, but I’m not itching for it out of comfort.
The loneliness of winter is out there—in the images we see of families all together and couples curled up in front of the fireplace and friends out at Christmas markets drinking mulled wine.
The loneliness of winter is in the idea that we need another person to complete us. That the picture-perfect life only exists in twos.
The loneliness of winter is in the pressure from society to couple up. It is in the idea that socializing and posting about it online is the only way to prove to others that we are happy and loved.
But the loneliness of winter is also inside.
The loneliness of winter can be very much real—when we don’t get sunlight or human connection and we lack the energy to go out and do the things we normally do to help us feel better.
But there is also beauty in the loneliness of winter because, if we embrace it, we realize it’s not really about us being lonely.
Winter is a time for aloneness. It is there to tell us now is the time to slow way down, to look within.
The loneliness is an invitation to pause and reflect and to do self-care, but also to make this a time of service and giving. In what way can we help others to feel a little less lonely?
I have spent these last few months of being alone as a time to figure myself out a little more, to treat my mind and body with self-compassion and care.
I am happy with my own company and I am finding other ways to fill my soul other than another person.
This loneliness that we feel (if we feel it) is there to show us something. It is there to reveal the space within us where something may be missing.
Go deep into this loneliness. And use the slow, steady, quiet rhythm of winter to figure yourself out.
Soon, we will find that winter isn’t lonely at all but a gift for us to tune in and take care of ourselves.