Coping With Single Life Anxiety
These are the top six fears of being single and thirty. And 5 life changes you can make to help you learn how to cope with single life anxiety, when you’re single and thirty.
In this blog post:
- The biggest fears of being single and thirty
- Losing prime years
- Everyone else is settling down
- Wasting time
- Never finding anyone
- Being Lonely
- How to cope with the fear anxiety
- Cleanse and declutter your life
- Build a strong support system
- Stay productive
- Go on adventures, learn and try new things
- Start living for yourself, and not for others
Being single can be scary enough as it is, so add on the pressure of getting older and passing that big 3-0 mark… It can get quite daunting and be paralyzing. It’s hard to explain anxiety, and even harder to explain how and why it happens. More often than not it just seems so irrational and enigmatic. Anxiety isn’t explicitly the same for each person, so you can never really generalize it and its effects. In fact, it rarely ever looks the same for different people. Nor are the triggers the same. That being said, however, when it comes to being single in general, and specifically in our 30’s… We all have very similar fears.
One of the biggest unnecessary emotions that accompany anxiety is shame. We’re ashamed of our anxiety, and we’re ashamed of ourselves. There’s also that irrational feeling that we’re alone in it, especially since we’re single. We feel like we’re the only one’s in the world who feel this way. And since we’re so ashamed of it, we never dare to share it. Which only causes us to feel even lonelier. Personally, I also felt like it weakened me. I thought that having anxiety made me weak, and sharing it with others would make me even weaker. With time, I learned that not only did it not make me weak, it actually made me stronger. Both going through the anxiety, and sharing my pain with my support system. I also learned that I certainly wasn’t alone in it, which was also a huge beneficiary to my healing process.
Anxiety when you’re single and thirty may be similar, but can come in many different shapes and forms. Each person can experience it differently, or different aspects of it. Below are the main forms that the people around me and myself have experienced.
The biggest fears of being single and thirty
1. Losing prime years
I’ve spoken about this more in depth in the blog post I wrote on this topic. It’s one of the main sources of fear of being single when you’re over 30. Because you’re slowly losing your youth, and you can’t help but feel you have less and less prime years to give. For women especially, we feel like we have an expiry date because pregnancy gets more and more difficult the older we get. This is also something that people feel anxious about in general, so when you’re single as well, it can intensify.
For me the fear started towards my 26th birthday, as I was approaching 30. It made me stay in the wrong relationships out of fear of never finding anyone else, and being single in my 30’s. Once I reached 30, however, and I realised how young it still is, and also started enjoying my single life, it got so much better.
2. Everyone else is settling down
Being single in your 20’s is one thing, especially in the earlier years of the decade, most of your friends are probably also single. Once you surpass that 30 mark, however, it suddenly seems like everyone else around you is starting to “settle down”. All of my closest friends are either married, engaged or in serious relationships. Both my sisters are married with kids. And for a long time it was very difficult for me to let go of that resentful, dark pit in my stomach. That voice in the back of our heads always whispering “why me?” or “you’re unlovable.” And so on. It’s not easy to live a happy single life when society depicts that it’s lesser… And even more so when everyone around you seems to be getting married and having kids.
3. Wasting time
The older we get, the faster the time seems to pass us by. So much so, that it almost literally feels like it’s slipping through our fingers. We’re all scared of that big 3-0 mark, we all dread it like the plague, and panic more and more the closer it gets. When you’re single in your 30’s there’s also that sense that you’re wasting your time away. That you should be more productive and efficient in finding a partner. And anything else you do with your life is worthless and just a waste of time, if you’re doing it alone. This couldn’t be further than the truth, but it’s one of those misconceptions that are drilled in us from a young age. So the older we get, and we’re still single, we feel more and more like we’re losing time.
4. Never finding anyone
This fear was one of the main reasons I overstayed my welcome in the wrong relationship for me. I was nearing 30 in what seemed like the speed of light, and no amount of willing it to stop actually worked. At the time I was still very much influenced by society’s pressures and all of the stigmas around being single, especially past 30. It felt like the nearer I got to 30, the less appealing I would be, the harder it would be to find someone. And in general, everyone seemed to already be taken, or at least the good ones.
But this fear only led me to go one failed date after failed date, which only made me more frustrated and feeling unlovable. While it can be true, and it may be a bit harder… In some ways it’s also easier, because once you embrace it, you’re no longer willing to settle, thus you also attract better. Also, I believe that when you really want to find a partner, you can. You just have to put in the work to find the right one. But that does mean you first need to take some time to work on yourself and your self-relationship.
5. Being lonely
A common misconception is that singleness is synonymous with loneliness, and for this reason, many people tend to avoid being single. But jumping into a new relationship will rarely make you feel less lonely, and won’t solve any of your problems. In fact, more often than not, it will only make you lonelier. Coping with and overcoming loneliness is not directly connected to your relationship status, it’s a matter of creating connections. First, creating a connection with yourself. And second, creating connections with others. Real, deep and meaningful connections, not just surface level ones. And as always, quality over quantity. Always. So if you’re single and lonely, it’s not actually because you’re single. It’s probably because you’re not spending your alone time right. And you’re not spending your time with the right people, or the right way.
6. Stigmas, misconceptions and prejudices
Sadly, we live in a world where people just love to stick their nose where it doesn’t belong. And even sadder, is that I don’t see it changing any time soon. People will always have what to say, and they will always feel compelled to say it, no matter how unwanted their opinions and remarks are. They pull faces, look down upon and denigrate singles with no regard to the impact of their words and attitude.
To this day I also get that dread in the pit of my stomach when anyone asks about my singleness… Because I know where it will lead, and that’s never pleasant, no matter how comfortable you are with yourself and your singlehood. With time you learn to just block them out and shrug them off. Yet, so many people jump into all the wrong relationships because of all the pressure that people and society implement.
How to cope with the fear anxiety
These are the top 5 bigger life changes you need to make – they are a longer process, which will take time and patience. So don’t get discouraged and just take it one step at a time.
1. Cleanse and declutter your life
Start small by throwing away or donating anything you don’t use anymore and that no longer serves any purpose. With time, as it gets easier, dispose of more and more, and bigger things. This also includes cutting ties and connections with people who not only don’t add value to your life… But decrease it as well. Decluttering your life has a few objectives:
- When you have a mess and clutter around you, you will usually have one in your brain as well. I know that I get anxious and have a very hard time concentrating, working or making sense of things, if everything around me is cramped and messy.
- The less inflation of meaningless things in your life, the more space and capacity you have to focus on the things that really matter.
- Getting rid of people, objects and habits that only serve as bad reminders or lower your self worth, will increase your overall well being. Many times, these bad reminders are what trigger our anxiety.
At the peak of my own anxiety, I was in the wrong relationship with the wrong guy for me. Yet I clutched onto him harder, because I was afraid to be alone. And I was scared, because he was the only one who knew about my anxiety at the time. Yet, almost as soon as we broke up, the anxiety started to dissipate. It was then I realised that keeping him in my life was a huge factor in my anxiety.
2. Build a strong support system
Fill your life with better people and things. – Don’t be afraid to have high standards and be very picky with who you allow the honour of being part of your life. And don’t be shy to treat it as such. It’s an honour. The people and things you surround yourself with, have a huge impact on your life. They can even determine your mood, so choose wisely. Building the right support system, can benefit you in quite a few different ways:
- Having someone to talk to, someone who listens and genuinely cares, will relieve that tension and feelings of being alone. Also, just letting it out sometimes with someone you trust, can lift a huge weight.
- More often than not, we will discover that someone we know has been through the same, or similar things… And will be able to offer us some wisdom and advice.
- Falling down and breaking isn’t so scary when you have a strong back to catch you when you fall apart. It can also make it seem smaller than you thought it was.
For the longest time I believed that my anxiety made me weak, and that sharing it would make me even weaker. It took me a long time of holding it in and keeping it to myself, to realise that not only did it not make me weak, but that it also made me so much stronger. Coping with anxiety, and being able to share your pain and healing process takes a lot of bravery and strength.
3. Stay productive
Being productive can be very tricky. Because you can fill your time with a whole lot of meaningless tasks and events to feel busy. But being busy doesn’t mean you’re actually spending your time wisely. And it certainly doesn’t mean you’re actually getting anything substantial or significant out of it. You need to fill your schedule with a variety of aspects in your life:
- Work on being the best version of yourself by trying and learning new things, building a strong self-relationship… Self reflect and work on your values.
- Fill your daily life with small tasks and goals that lead up to your main goals, that help you make progress and take actual steps forward – no matter how slow or how small.
- Nurture and build your hobbies and world of interests, gain new skills. They all help you spend quality alone time, better yourself and your life, and feel like you’re taking proper advantage of life.
I like to keep a diverse schedule and always try new things, but also try not to stray too much, so I don’t get lost and completely off track. Find the right, manageable balance for you, that will improve your life and add value. When you’re properly productive, your mind has less time for anxiety and nerves.
4. Go on adventures, learn and try new things
Going on crazy and wild adventures isn’t for everyone, and it’s also not exactly what I’m referring to. You certainly don’t have to go completely out of your way or even out of your comfort zone for this. If you are the spontaneous type, within reason, going on a fun, crazy adventure can be like magic. If you’re not, however, jumping on a random train within your country or region, can work just as well. You don’t have to go wide or far.
- Adventures add spice and excitement to your life, they help you get out of the house or a rut you’re stuck in. They can also be a great adrenaline rush. Even if it’s not bungee jumping, going on a short hiking trip will work wonders too.
- They also help you get out of your own head and spiraling thoughts. When you’re on an adventure, you usually have less time to think or worry too much. They help you forget, even for a moment. The more adventures you go on, the more the effect will be long lasting.
- And of course, it’s a great way to spend quality time with yourself and grow a deeper self-relationship and connection.
What I personally love most about being single, is the freedom and space it provides. Which usually means you can go on more adventures without having to check in with anyone else. Not only do they help you enjoy your own company better and supply you with great reasons to love singlehood… But making a habit of going on adventures every so often, can also improve your overall mood and well being.
5. Start living for yourself, and not for others
One of the reasons you may often feel anxious, agitated, and never seem to be really happy with yourself… Is because you’re constantly trying to be everything for everyone else but yourself. You’re living your life according to what society depicts and what others expect from you. And I mean, how can you not, right? With that immense, overpowering pressure. One of the causes of anxiety when you’re single and thirty that I mentioned above are stigmas, misconceptions and prejudices… Living for others is part of that. When you start living for yourself, the tension and pressure subsides.
- Trying to always be whatever others expect of you and trying to show up for everyone but yourself… Will only stretch you thin and make you jaded and unhappy with who you are.
- Making life decisions according to others expectations, or to only make their life better and not yours… will make you bitter and miserable. You are the only one that actually has to live with the consequences of them.
- When you start living your own way, you will slowly stop caring about what others think or say. Their opinion doesn’t matter, and the people who matter will encourage you to be true to yourself and do your own thing. And living for yourself will liberate you.
Single life helped me start living for myself. It gave me the space and push I needed to live my own life on my own terms. Without regard to what the “normal” or “right” way is. And when I spent my time focusing on bettering myself and my life, I felt less need to please everyone else. But even more so, I became a better version of myself and my life was upgraded. Not to mention, the immense anxiety and pressure to “fit in” and be “good enough”… subsided and have become a rare sighting in my life.
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Stay safe, stay healthy and stay strong!