Holiday Survival for the Self-Identifying Loner

The holidays create a certain kind of chaos. November shifts to December and suddenly there is shopping and baking to do, social engagements to attend, family outings to cringe through, projects to complete, and holiday movies to watch. Gone are the hours of excessive reading or writing, gaming or sketching. Christmas for the self-identifying loner is not that easy to enjoy. I know the feeling all too well. Like a toddler without a nap, I get cranky if I don’t get to sit down to do my reading or writing, and then hold it against those that have dragged me away from my sacred alone time.

There are expectations during the holidays to spend more time with family, and if you’re someone who functions well alone, you know that these expectations are accompanied by a certain dread. Family bonding might mean dysfunction, anxiety, or boredom even. We understand. You’d rather be alone, and that’s okay. The holidays are a lot. 

Crankiness from lack of alone time is no joke either. And let’s be honest, after too many hours spent socializing, even a true socialite craves some solitary time. But for us hermits, it can get brutal. However, it doesn’t have to ruin the holidays. 

Give it the old college try first. Try to be more social during the holidays, try to set the book down to spend time with awkward relatives, try to walk away from that manuscript you’ve been working on for years in order to make buckeyes with your mother. Just try to do something new. It may not necessarily be the first thing you’d choose to do, but by trying something new, you open yourself up to the possibility of an even better time. Think of all the situations you’ve tried something different and were pleasantly surprised with the outcome! Be optimistic about your time spent with others during the holidays. 

However, if it’s too difficult to part ways with your solitary hobbies, make a deal with yourself that you’ll devote a portion of your time with your family and then another portion for yourself. If you have to sacrifice something to give yourself alone time, prioritize what is more important. For example, if you really want to read five more chapters, maybe slice an hour of sleep off your routine (and make up for it with more coffee in the morning). But the point is to find a healthy balance between social and alone time, rather than sacrificing one for the other. Even if you only have time to write a single paragraph for your WIP, you’re still giving yourself some valuable time. And you owe that to yourself for putting up with the holiday havoc! Be generous, but be balanced. 

A huge portion of the Christmas season is gift-giving and shopping, but we always remember moments more than material goods. Your presence at the family dinner table will be a wonderful gift to the people who rarely see you, due to your solitary activities. Get over yourself and give the gift of good company and conversation. And maybe share some of your hobbies with the group. If you like to play videogames, invite someone to be your Player Two. Read in companionable company in the living room with your other bookworm relatives, or theatrically read a book out loud in your best Samuel L. Jackson voice. You can always mend your favorite activities to include others. 

Lastly, I hate to bring this up but it must be said. I work at a funeral home and am constantly reminded of the invaluableness of time, so like the freaky Ghost of Christmas Yet-To-Come, I’m here to warn you that this may be the last Christmas for someone, or for you. While that’s a serious downer, it’s true and shouldn’t be ignored. When your family wants to play a board game or your significant other is asking to watch their favorite Christmas movie with you, just say yes and do all the things. Your book will be there when the holidays are over, your videogame won’t lose your save point, and your manuscript won’t write itself without you. It’s unbelievable how much grief is caused by regret. “I wish I would have spent more time with them,” or “I should have gone to that thing with them when they were healthy.” Don’t be that guy. In the precious words of Shia LaBeouf, just do it.

Now then. Enjoy your holiday, you wonderful introvert. Read that book, hang out with Grandma, play videogames with the cousins, write your valuable manuscript, help your uncle open the fourth bottle of champagne, and make this holiday the best one yet. When it’s all said and done, you can slip back into the confines of your room and consume as much alone time as possible (maybe with some new books you got for Christmas).