We're succumbing to the cold weather and warm feelings most often associated with the harvest season here at Derivative Psychology and if you're one of those people a few ticks north of the equator, you might know what we're feeling. We're getting ready to spend time with friends and family, making food, setting fires, planning festivities and considering every other thing associated with a cozy home that doesn't start with the letter 'f'.
However, if you're new to an area or feel like you're on the outside, social circles can feel increasingly closed off and it can seem harder to form new relationships as people spend more time indoors with the friends and family they've spent the summer bonding with. For someone who doesn't already have a strong support structure, it can make a season known to bring out depression in people feel that much more lonely.
There is however, a silver lining to being on the outside -and if you feel that you are going into a season without a lot of family and friends close by, I'd like to bend your ear for a minute or two. Winter, at it's peak can be a time lacking in color and feeling. It's grey skies, brown grass, cold wind and if you're far enough north, a blanket of sensory depriving snow. But, if you see it like some of us try to, the feeling can become less about what you might not have and more about what you do.
If the things that you don't have include friends, family or things to do, then for the next few months, time is on your side. Take it from me dear reader, more has been accomplished by this lone stranger during the late nights of a snowed in weekend on the bleak flatlands of northern Texas than in all the sunny months that preceded. It was hard to get into a groove at first and their are stretches of time where I'd just flip on the TV and burn an entire day, but that was four years ago and things have definitely changed since then.
This is the time to pick something to shoot for. This is a time to try, not necessarily finish, only begin. Try your hand at writing a short story, learn the basics of an instrument, study computer coding, make a stop-motion short with cardboard and your phone, anything, just treat your TV like the background appliance it deserves to be. Mine is rarely on without some kind of multitasking taking place, but if it's a distraction for you, turn it off. Listen to some podcasts or something.
If you're going to be lonely, you might as well learn how to keep things interesting. Don't worry about wether or not you're going to finish a project, just get involved in creating something for yourself. The Internet has made learning anything just about free. Look for things to start working on now so that you can roll into Spring with an ability that you can continue over the warmer months and use to meet all the kinds of people you might want to be spending next winter indoors with.
It's a cycle, we practice in private the things we want to be confident doing in public. Then, as we become confident in our own sphere, we then tend to attract others who might be able to teach us or learn from us, ad infinitum.
This is a time to be active, we might not feel like it is, but we're not bears, we're people and people can do incredible things -especially when they're on their own. Winter, for anyone who might think of it as just a depressing end to another year are missing an opportunity and if we're not investing our free-time in ourselves, what are we doing? Probably not a lot.
It doesn't take much to internalize the bare trees, dead grass and empty streets and think that we are the ones who are missing something -and maybe we are, but emptiness isn't a natural psychological state and the mind has a natural inclination to fill in those gaps. What we should be comfortable doing is attempting to replace that emptiness with something of our own design, something that can only be attributed to our effort and hopefully paints over the grey with a vibrant color all our own.