Fortunately, the Jewish New Year does not have an emblematic ball-dropping ceremony (the single person's nightmare), after which we're supposed to kiss our significant other and, if we don't have one, suffer in silence.
Still, why do these holidays bring on a bout of the blues?
True, it's the most solemn time of the year – a time for inner personal transformation – but it's also a time when we wish we had someone to share that transformation, to realize the significance of these days. It's that simple. At one point or another, we've all felt this way. No matter how satisfied and successful we feel on a daily basis, during the holidays, it's natural for single folk to get a little distressed, and feel more out of place in the presence of so many couples and families.
'Are You Seeing Anyone?'
It's hard enough seeing someone your age married when you haven't even found your ideal mate, but returning to synagogue to see all those people you've known for years and having them ask you about your life becomes even more daunting.
The main question the gossip-mamas always want to ask is, "Are you seeing anyone special?" Not only do you have to answer "no," but you also have to listen to her rave about her own daughter, son or niece's betrothal.
Or worse, she suddenly seems to know "the perfect match" for you, and then wants to set it up.
I can only imagine that this conversation becomes even more overwhelming when said gossip-mama asks where your darling spouse is – and you have to explain to her that you're now separated, divorced or widowed.
Judaism focuses on family and community, and many people have trouble comprehending that you're okay being single, and that you're relishing your independence, be it old or newfound. For some of us, the scrutiny of family pressure to get married or remarried makes it even harder, and sometimes frustrating, to be single, especially this time of year, when everyone's bumping into one another in synagogue hallways and at High Holiday events.
But you need to be honest with yourself and comfortable with your situation, and not let anyone else make you feel isolated or embarrassed because you are alone. If you do become saddened (or even annoyed), allow yourself to feel that way. It's never a good idea to cut off your emotions, so if you need a good cry, do it.
However, make sure to set a time limit on the sulking. That means that if you haven't thrown your sorrows into the river along with the Tashlich breadcrumbs, you should do some serious re-evaluating before you become too overwhelmed.
It's not worth wasting an entire season being miserable because you have no one to bring to your mother or son's break-the-fast meal. You're probably doing your future date a favor anyway, by having them meet the mishpachah long after the holidays have ended and some of the pressure is gone. You can begin autumn – and 5766 – with some freedom and a clean slate, as long as that's coupled with the promise to get out more and enjoy the company of other people.
Holidays are a time of tradition. Whether your traditions lasted only a few years or as many as 50, there's always room to start new ones.
Don't just sit at home and mope by yourself. If you're used to building a sukkah or hosting a holiday dinner and this year don't want to do that alone, make arrangements to join someone else's party. Go to a religious or social event and participate. Attend services somewhere new or pitch in as a volunteer for something worthy. Make a difference by reaching out to the community directly around you.
It's a new year. Take a deep breath and dive right in.