Last week, I had a conversation with a young woman who shared with me how much she pretty much loathes this time of the year; although she did admit that it wasn't always that way. It's been the past three years when she has pretty much given Thanksgiving through Valentine's Day a symbolic middle finger.
"I just hate not having someone around the holidays," she said with a long Waiting to Exhale-like sigh.
At the risk of sounding like a corny PBS segment, can you guess what my response was? "Girl, you do have somebody—yourself. Problem is, single folks aren't encouraged to see all of the good that can come out of making the holidays be all about them instead of about being in a relationship with someone else."
I get that, between the mistletoe, fireplaces and marriage proposals, not having a boo might feel like a cosmic trick or some triggering b.s., but I promise that if you choose to alter your perspective, just a little bit, Christmas through New Year's doesn't have to be something to sleep right through. It can actually be kinda dope—if you simply choose for it to be.
Shellie, how I am supposed to do that? I'm so glad that you asked, sis.
First, Remember That Singleness ALWAYS Has Its Perks
Have you ever wondered why this time of year seems to be when so many folks are boo'ed up? Yes, a part of it has to do with cuffing season (chiiiiiile), but apparently it's also the time of year when couples get engaged the most. Yep, December is the most popular month for marriage proposals. With that, all of the romantic Christmas flicks that are in heavy rotation, and our relatives asking us, like clockwork, when we're finally gonna bring somebody home—yes, I get it if, deep down, you feel some type of way about being single this time of year.
But every coin has its flip side and if you check out articles like "10 Bona Fide Benefits Of Being Single", "How To Own The Power Of Your Single Season", "If You're Not In Love With Being Single, Ask Yourself These 6 Questions", "It's Okay to Be Single" and "10 Words That'll Make You Totally Rethink The Word 'Single'"—they all just might remind you that singleness has some real perks and pluses too. If those pieces still don't "scratch the itch", ask some of your married aunties to share with you what they miss about their single days.
Trust me, a (healthy) relationship is a beautiful thing, but it also comes with making compromises and sacrifices that we single ladies don't have to even worry about; things that auntie reminisces on in the midst of frying turkeys and getting your uncle yet another sweater that he's never going to wear.
Reconnect—with a Purpose
So, here's a peek into my present private life. About a week ago, on a "fluke" (meaning, I ran into his cousin and we exchanged numbers that way), I reconnected with my first love. Y'all don't have the time and I don't have the energy to get into how deep the saga goes. But long story short, after almost four hours on the phone and a dinner to follow, a table full of married white women got me out of the nostalgia of walking down memory lane with my ex. It wasn't that I wanted to get back with him; that ship has sailed. But we always seem to have an inexplicable connection; one that, if one lady in particular (shout out to Page) didn't say, "If you're not gonna pursue Shellie, what are you doing here?", our chatting probably would've gone on for six months rather than one night. (Thanks Page!)
Moral to the story—there's something about the holiday season that tends to make us more open to taking walks down memory lane and reconnecting with folks. It makes sense; just enter with caution, though. If there is not a real point and purpose to hitting up a blast from the past or even having dinner with a former friend, why are you doing it? Just to have something to do? Yeah, that's not even close to being a good enough reason because your time is way too valuable. Real talk, if you can't find five good reasons for why he/she/they should be a part of your future, leave them as ghosts from Christmas's past. Before you end up being haunted in an Italian restaurant parking lot like I was. SMDH.
Limit Your “Christmastime Chick Flick” Consumption
There are trials; then there are manufactured trials. What's the difference? The first are things that happen to us, sometimes whether we can control it or not. Then there are things that we do to make life more difficult. Buying shoes instead of paying rent on time? That's a manufactured trial. Getting into arguments with toxic family members? That's a manufactured trial. And spending hours of your time off crying while watching chick flicks and screaming out "Why God why?" and "When God when?"—that's a manufactured trial too.
If you know that you are triggered by the romance of this time of year, why would you keep hurting your own feelings by surrounding yourself with nothing but reminders that…you are triggered by the romance of this time of the year? Minus the fact that they don't have nearly enough Black folks on their channel (side-eye), I enjoy a Hallmark Christmas movie as much as the next gal. But I'm not gonna watch one every single day. There's more to life—and entertainment—than kissing under the mistletoe. Right about now, those are words to live by. Why not go to a movie, listen to a podcast or read a book instead?
Drink. With Wisdom.
So, according to Alcohol.org, while drinking does have a tendency to make us feel, at least temporarily happy, that's not the only emotion that it causes. It can also make us feel nostalgic, creative, anxious, overwhelmed, surprised, sad and scared (and horny; not sure why the article didn't mention that). You know what all of this boils down too, right? Having a little spiked eggnog or a Grinch drink might seem like a fun and festive thing to do, but if it's gonna result in you drunk dialing a former sex partner or worry one of your friends to death as you're crying non-stop on the phone about how horny you are (I've been there; without the alcohol), maybe you should push the glass back. Or at least not consume a ton of your alcoholic fave. Hot chocolate is delicious too. And if you go that route instead, you can trust that whatever it is you're feeling, it's all you—not the alcohol that's speaking (and acting up) for you.
Hang Around SUPPORTIVE People (Family or Otherwise)
Just yesterday, I was having a premarital counseling session with a newly engaged couple. As the soon-to-be-husband was asking me about what I thought one of the biggest mistakes that married couples make is, I said, "Knowing what their partner's triggers are and then continuing to push them." Not only is it disrespectful, it's an effective way to get your spouse to build up all kinds of ways in order to emotionally protect themselves.
I know you're not married, but where I am going with that is this—something else that can make the holiday season extra trying on your spirit is if you continue to put yourself around toxic energy. You know, people who gaslight you, narcissistic parents, envious and/or opportunistic individuals (whether they are family members or not). I know not all of us have the kind of personality that can leave, 15 minutes into dinner, if someone gets out of line, without giving it a second thought. At the same time, don't volunteer to be a martyr by spending all day long, several days at a time, around individuals who emotionally drain you, harp on your dating or baby status or don't make you feel esteemed as an individual.
People who are supportive are sympathetic, encouraging and helpful. If you're not catching those kinds of vibes, politely dismiss yourself so that you can get around those who are on a totally different vibration level.
Create a “Salute Yourself” Calendar
I'm pretty sure you've got at least a couple of off days coming, right? On one of them, pick up a 2020 calendar and then give it a "salute yourself" theme. What do I mean by that? Salute means "to address with expressions of goodwill, respect, etc." If ANYONE needs to be doing that for you…it's you. Jot down things, every month, that you plan to do that will boost your self-esteem, remind you to be kind to your being and to pamper yourself too.
Then get a big ole' jar. Listen, when it comes to married folks, I encourage them to have sex jars. When it comes to single women, they need to have a pamper one. Every time that you reach a goal, dodge a relational bullet or make a decision that benefits your mind, body and/or spirit (check out "Need To Make A Big Decision Quickly? Do This." and "If You Want To Get To The Root Of Things, Try My One-Word Test"), put some money in the jar. It can be fifty dollars or fifty cents. Then, at the end of the year, spend what you've accumulated on something that's all about spoiling yourself. I'm telling you, I speak from personal experience when I say that, the more you focus on celebrating your singleness, the less you'll be caught up in feeling some type of way about actually being single.
Go to a Hotel for a Night
Back when I was doing a significant amount of touring, the folks I would travel with would get pretty irritated with me. Why? Because while they wanted to take in the sights, I preferred to order room service and chill in my hotel bed. I must admit that while hotel beds are best when shared, I have some very fond memories of kicking it in them alone too.
That's why, I highly recommend that you book a night in one before New Year's. Go to a hotel in your city (or the next one) that you've always been curious about. It will provide a change of scenery, it will make you feel pampered, plus—there's something about lying up in a hotel bed for hours on end that has no guilt attached to it. You can sleep, eat, watch television—then rinse and repeat. Shoot, if you can find a hotel that offers in-room massages and facials, that's even better!
Take Some Sort of Social Media Fast
You're not going to be able to fully embrace all that comes with having some time off work if you are still plugged in to the good, bad and sometimes super-duper ugly of what's happening on the internet. So please take at least 48 hours off to do anything but clap back on Twitter or peep in to see what your ex is up to. There are all kinds of mental and psychological benefits that come from putting your smartphone down. Why not use that time instead to journal (even sex journal), write yourself a love letter or—here's a thought—do absolutely nothing?
One thing about social media is, although things are constantly happening, most of it isn't going anywhere. Like a soap opera (to a certain extent, there's a pun that's totally intended here), you can miss a week, come back and pick back up where you left off. Test that theory by spending some much-needed time away. You might be surprised by how little I exaggerated.
Do What Makes YOU Happy on NYE
Don't let the tube fool you. Although it might look like everyone and their great-grandma is out on New Year's Eve, a survey from a couple of years ago revealed that only about 11 percent of individuals actually party on that night. 45 percent prefer to hang with family, 24 percent stay at home and seven percent do something with their friends. So no, you don't have to feel like you're taking an L if you don't go out to watch some ball drop somewhere or if someone doesn't slob you down at midnight. It is perfectly fine to have sleepover with some other single friends or to even ring in the new year while soaking in your bathtub.
Many people believe that the way you exit one year speaks volumes to how the next year will go. Although I'll not even remotely superstitious, that has been the case for me for the past few years. So, don't call it a night at eight so that you can sleep New Year's Eve away. Instead, plan something that will set the tone for 2020. Then watch how the Universe responds to your effort.
Treat Your Own Damn Self
Do you wish that you were receiving a diamond this Christmas? Buy yourself a piece of jewelry. Are you hot about not being able to go to a romantic resort? Go on a weekend road trip. Wish you were cuddling in bed with someone? Get yourself some new bedding (in the meantime). One of the best things about being single, yes even during this time of year, is that you/we have the awesome pleasure of being our top priority. Short of being a single mom, you can buy for yourself—FIRST. You can do what you want without having to explain yourself (unless you want to). You can totally make this a season of real self-indulgence—unapologetically so.
So, don't dread being single over the holidays—relish in it. Someday you may look back and wish that you had. Don't say a sistah didn't warn you.
Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:
Here's How To Know You're At Total Peace With Yourself
What It Means To Find True Self-Love
Sanaa Lathan Wants You To Know She's Her Own Knight In Shining Armor
What Loving Yourself Actually Looks Like
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- 15 Ways Single Women Can Enjoy Valentine's Day - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
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'Queen Charlotte' Star Arsema Thomas Worked At The United Nations Before Landing Her Breakout Role
Actress Arsema Thomas (Arséma Adeoluwayemi Hamera) may be new to the acting scene, but the star's standout performance in Netflix's limited series Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story is already leaving a lasting impression among many.
Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story, a prequel to Bridgerton, follows the young queen's life as her marriage to King George of England sparks an epic love affair and a societal shift.
In the drama, Thomas portrays the role of a young Lady Agatha Danbury, a close friend and confidant of Queen Charlotte, and it also depicts Lady Danbury's journey.
The series showcases the struggles Lady Agatha Danbury experienced in her lifetime. The list includes being forced to partake in a loveless marriage to a former African king Herman Danbury, becoming a widow, and possibly losing her estate and title following her husband's death.
Since Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story debuted on Netflix earlier this month, it has dominated the streaming service's top ten charts and piqued fans' interest in the show's stars, including Thomas.
Although many may not know a lot about the Atlanta native, who goes by she/they pronouns, and how she became one of the breakout stars in Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story, still, with the recent promotional tour Thomas has been doing for the show, she has shared some shocking details about her life.
Thomas' revelations within the past several months include details about her educational pursuits, previous work experience, her African culture, the steps she took to prepare for her role as Lady Agatha Danbury, and many more.
Arsema On Her African Heritage
Thomas, who is Nigerian and Ethiopian, is the daughter of diplomats.
The 28-year-old's parents, consisting of an Ethiopian mother and a Nigerian father, worked in the government to improve Africa's economic development.
Due to her parents' professions, the actress moved around a lot and lived in various countries like Kenya, Benin, Comoros, Uganda, and India, which exposed her to social issues. In an interview with Teen Vogue, Thomas opened up about having conversations about politics and government at a young age.
"Dinner table conversations were about politics, about African governance. I realized that in a lot of the countries I lived in, the effects of colonialism and imperialism were so blatantly obvious. That became the driving force for what I thought I should be doing as an adult," she said.
Later Thomas would ultimately reveal that her parents' work had inspired her to become a "doctor or something" because she wanted to make them proud.
Arsema Attended Carnegie Mellon University and Yale University
Prior to pursuing acting, Thomas revealed to Shondaland that she was a college graduate.
In 2016, she received her bachelor's degree in biophysics from Carnegie Mellon University. Following her graduation, Thomas interned at a mobile health clinic and a refugee camp in Kenya for over a year.
Around the same time, the star would continue her education by getting her master's in epidemiology and health policy at Yale University. Thomas disclosed that despite the educational success that she has achieved, acting became her main priority when she realized that this is something she could envision herself doing "100 percent of the time." This decision led Thomas to relocate to Paris, South Africa, and then to London to study drama.
"I packed up everything and moved to Paris because I wanted to do acting 100 percent of the time," she stated. "It was always something I had wanted to do, [but] I didn't think I would be able to. I thought it was going to be a hobby or a thing that I'd have to suppress in myself for the rest of my life."
Thomas would land her first role in 2021 as a guest star on the television series One Touch. Shortly after, she would participate in the 2022 film Redeeming Love as the character Rebecca. The rest would be history because, around that time, Thomas would receive the life-changing role of Lady Agatha Danbury in Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story.
Arsema On How She Prepared for Her Role In Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story
When the opportunity for Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story came along, Thomas took various steps to transform into Lady Agatha Danbury.
The actress, who has admitted to never seeing Bridgerton in the past, told Cosmopolitan UK's Up Close series that because she wasn't familiar with the fictionalized character, she decided to find things that she thought Lady Agatha Danbury would resonate with.
It includes reading books about women by well-known female authors who have made history in their own right, creating a Spotify playlist with music that Lady Agatha Danbury could listen to, and having waist beads made for her character.
"There was a lot of stuff I needed to get into this role because the character is fictional. So I read a ton of books about women or by women, that I thought that Agatha Danbury would resonate. So I read 'Ain't I A Woman' by Bell Hooks. I read Angela Davis' autobiography. I read Assata Shakur's autobiography, 'Tar Baby' by Toni Morrison, 'Eyes Are Watching God,' and 'Vaga Bonds' by Eloghosha Osunde. I made an extensive Spotify playlist, and I got waist beads made for Agatha," she explained.
Further in the interview, Thomas mentioned that she had waist beads made for Lady Danbury and wore them throughout the filming process because it helped ground her as she portrayed the character whom she described as entirely different from who she is as a person.
"It was a Nigerian woman threading these beads, and I asked her to thread beads specifically for this character, and I wore it throughout the entirety of filming," she said. "Because it was just kind of was a physical grounding point to this woman that is really, really actually far from who I am as an individual."
Thomas shared that talking to her grandmother, who had a similar background to Lady Danbury, such as having an arranged marriage at a young age, also helped her prepped for the role.
"I also talked to my grandmother a lot. I didn't realize how similar she was to this character. Because she was also married off when she was quite young," she revealed. "It was really interesting to kind of talk to someone in my life who I've known, who’s gone through something that is essentially the stripping away of their freedom, and someone who doesn't have any resentment or harbored anger towards the situation."
Arsema Worked At The United Nations
Thomas' work experience is an interesting one. Despite interning at three different health organizations, she previously worked at United Nations Population Fund, according to her Linkedin profile.
United Nations Population Fund's site states that the organization is part of the United Nation's "sexual and reproductive health agency." The gathered information on Thomas' profile says that she was an associate for the company from 2017 to 2018.
Some of Thomas' responsibilities included conducting "policy analyses" for United Nations Population Fund's sustainability and "supporting the regional desk specialist" in the program's division.
Arsema Speaks Five Languages
On top of Thomas' overwhelmingly impressive resume, the actress also speaks five languages.
According to the African publication Bella Naija, Thomas speaks English, Amharic, Yoruba, French, and Spanish. Although Thomas hasn't publicly talked about what inspired her to become multilingual, many can assume it is because of the various locations she has lived in throughout her life and her interest in learning.
Thomas may be a rising star now, but with the facts provided above, the actress has displayed through her work ethic and drive that she can soon become a household name.
Thomas' latest work Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story, is now streaming on Netflix.
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