So, are you forever alone?

Ever seen this guy? He floats around on the web, and finds he’s especially prevalent on the Facebook profiles, Twitter feeds, and Tumblr pages of those who are single.

As you probably know, he’s called the “Forever Alone” guy, and chances are, you’ve had a friend or two who uses him to make a joke about how they can’t seem to find a significant other.

But this little Internet phenomenon has led me to see quite the massive discrepancy between being single and being alone.

Being alone means you have no romantic partner. It also means you have no friends, no family, no acquaintances, no relatively wholesome, healthy relationships in your life at all. Hmm. The last time I checked, I don’t know anyone who is completely and entirely isolated to the point of being 100% alone 24/7/365.

But being single? Being single means you don’t have a romantic partner. Period. The end.

Being single doesn’t mean you don’t have family and friends and satisfying relationships in your life. It doesn’t mean you’ve never made a personal connection in your life. And being single certainly does not mean that no one loves you.

Personally, I’ve been single for a while. I’ll be the first to admit that my self-pitying thoughts get the best of me from time to time, and I have the occasional wallow fest in which I question everything about myself, cry, and read Proverbs 31 and select passages of Jackie Kendall’s Lady In Waiting over and over (and over and over).

But when all is said and done, quite honestly, I’m not at all miserable being single. Why? Because I’ve realized that just because I’m single, that doesn’t mean I’m alone.

In fact, when I really stop and observe my life, I am FAR from being alone. I have a loving family who has always supported and loved me. I have friends who have become life family to me. And let me just be real here– if I weren’t single, I probably wouldn’t have near as much time to devote to all of those incredible relationships that I’ve been blessed with.

I know that the “Forever Alone” guy is not much more than a silly cartoon, but after a while, don’t you think his underlying notion of “I’m alone” will really start to take over the notion of “I’m single but I have people in my life”? When you really stop and consider how much words (and in this case, memes) can influence your perception, you start to see that words can distort your thoughts and direct them toward constant self-pity before you even realize it.

I can tell you one thing, you won’t be seeing the “Forever Alone” guy on any of my social media pages.

I’m too busy being single and blessed!

What if.

What if they say no?

What if I’m too young? Too inexperienced, too naïve, too new.

What if I’m too old? What if it’s too late? What if I missed my chance?

What if I’m too quiet? What if I don’t feel confident? What if they think I’m timid? What if they don’t think I can speak for what I believe in?

What if I’m too loud? What if they don’t want to hear my ideas? What if they don’t care what I have to say? What if they tell me to be quiet?

What if they don’t like me? What if I’m not what they were looking for?

What if I cry? What if I feel defeated? What if I have to experience disappointment again?

But… what if they can see past my flaws? What if they can see my passion? What if they believe in my future?

What if they say yes?

Encourage Those Around You

This may seem a little cheesy or cliché, but I’m beginning to wonder if the encouragement of others is a dying art, so I’m going to share a few of my own simple ideas for encouraging those around you. There’s nothing more fulfilling and humbling than putting aside your own worries and seeking out ways to help others make it through theirs. You can use words and actions to either wallow in your own daily problems, or you can use them to help others see the light through their discouraging times. Which will you choose?

1. Write a kind note on a Post-it (or more than one!), and stick it to their car, their front door, or their notebook for them to find later.

2. If you see someone doing a good deed– no matter how large or small– let them know you appreciate their kindness, even if it wasn’t directed toward you. Sometimes we all need to know that our efforts aren’t wasted.

3. Send them a song that you think will be uplifting, motivational, or encouraging. Music can be a powerful thing.

4. Early one morning, send a text message to or call someone who you may not encounter on a regular basis simply to let them know you hope they have a wonderful day. Hearing from you could make their day start off with a happy moment, especially if you share a positive message.

5. Tell someone that you’re simply grateful to have them in your life. To someone who’s feeling alone or unappreciated, you’ll make a world of difference.

6. Point out the positive aspects of every day, not only when there’s a negative situation happening. If you can learn and teach others how to see the good things in everyday life, then it will become easier to see them even in adversity. Make it a point to call attention to the perfect temperature outside, the exceptionally wonderful taste of your sweet tea at lunch, or the fact that you had eight hours of sleep last night. In a world of pessimistic self-centeredness, celebrating the little things can truly make a difference in your perspective, and hopefully your optimistic demeanor will begin to influence those around you to focus on the positives as well.

7. Write a letter or a short note to someone, and send it in the mail. Call me old-fashioned, but I for one love the feeling I get when I receive a note in the mail. The fact that someone would take time out of their life to let me know I was on their mind for some reason or another is very encouraging.

8. Make a conscious effort to remember the specific ways and situations in which your friends overcome difficulty. If they run into disappointment again in the future, remind them of how they successfully came through their hardship in the past. Let it serve as a reminder that they were strong enough to make it through difficulty in the past, and they’re strong enough to do it again. For example, if they aced a test in a class three weeks ago, but failed the most recent one, remind them of their excellent performance in the past, and let them know you believe they can do that again. Don’t let them become overwhelmed by one small setback to the extent that they lose sight of their own larger successes.

9. Unexpectedly share something with a friend that you like or admire about them. If you think their hair is great, they always know the right thing to say, or they have cool buttons on their backpack, tell them without even being provoked to say so!

10. Smile! That seems so simple, but in a fast-paced world like the one we live in, sometimes it’s nice to know that people still make time to be happy. So let someone know that happiness is not dead by simply smiling at them. They could be a stranger or a long-time friend; it doesn’t matter– they’ll still appreciate the reminder that happiness is never dead.

How do you encourage those around you? I want to know! 🙂