Have you ever tried living alone? I’m continually surprised at the amount of people who’ve never tried living alone. Many people go straight from their parents’ houses to a dorm, roommates, or married life-and never once live alone. When I was 20 I lived alone for just about one month. At that time I was just dealing with the aftermath of my very first heartbreak, and an empty apartment that had once been shared by the man I thought I’d marry one day (now I’m sooooo glad I didn’t haha!). In the midst of all that aching and the reminders that were our first apartment, living alone seemed terrible and lonely. At the time I didn’t know what I actually wanted, the space to myself to “repair” myself after my break-up or to look for someone through a roommate finder. I figured I wouldn’t be lonely anymore and I’d have help with the bills too.
However, when the time came to live alone again as my best friend and roommate of six years moved to Canada for grad school-it was a different story. At first I was terrified. I didn’t know how I’d do on my own after that first experience, and certainly how I’d do with my best friend and biggest piece of my support system over 16 hours away. It was a big adjustment, and while there were a lot of lonely sleepless nights at first, I ultimately ended up loving it.
A Few Lessons I’ve Learned from Living Alone
Everything is Scary When You First Live Alone
For the first few months in my apartment after my roommate left, I couldn’t sleep. Suddenly every noise I heard was amplified by the fact that he wasn’t sleeping in the room next to mine… I was reminded how the doors were basically thin particle board and could easily pushed through, and that there had been break ins to the cars in the neighborhood. I could hear everything my neighbors did and sad. I could hear doors slamming and feel the building shake when they did. It became better, but I really never felt fully comfortable.
When I bought my house all on my own last Summer, it was creepy all over again and in new ways. Not only was it a new and unfamiliar place, but my bedroom was in the basement and just outside my thin windows was the driveway shared with my neighbors. Every creek of the house, every car door or voice echoing from house next door (which has people coming and going all night) was a new kind of anxiety. Eventually, adopting a dog and making sure to drown out the outside noises with a fan or music helped quite a bit.
Living Alone Makes You Incredibly Self Reliant
I honestly had no idea how self reliant I could be until I lived alone. Yeah, I’ve always been pretty independent and handy when I wanted to be, but there were a lot of things I didn’t even try to do because I didn’t have to. Then Josh left, and suddenly I couldn’t reach half of the shelves, I had to figure out how to connect the electronics myself, and there really wasn’t anyone to run to for the small stuff. I learned how to patch walls, I bought a step ladder, and I suddenly felt incredible for all of the things I could do on my own.
When you live alone, you become incredibly self reliant. There’s no one to run to for the little things…TWEET IT
Living Alone Can Get Lonely
It does get lonely. Some nights I’d love to just have someone I trust under the same roof. Some days I wish I didn’t have to come home to an empty house and kick myself for not installing the solar fixtures so the porch lights could turn themselves on when it got dark. Some days I wish I could laugh at the TV show I’m watching with someone sitting in the chair across the room, or rely on someone else to let the dog out when I was running a little later than usual. The most lonely thing is when I want to go out to eat spur of the moment and I end up missing my friend and roommate who’d be up for just about anything on a random evening in the week. It’s tough sometimes but sites like Invisible Friends can help you get through it. There’s always support out there for you if you want it.
Living Alone Can Also be Magnificently Freeing
On the other hand, living alone gives you so much space to be yourself. You can decorate how you want, sleep diagonally on the bed, make all the noise you want in the mornings, and eat whatever I want whenever I want. You don’t have to account to anyone for anything and you can walk around in your underwear or sing in the shower without disturbing a soul. Except maybe the dog, but he’ll get over it.
Having a pet when you live alone helps a ton. I not only feel protected by my big beefy pitbul with a heart of gold who tries to eat strangers, but he’s a good little companion when the lonely feelings start to hang around. He’s always there with his big brown eyes and a goofy slobbery grin to let me know he loves me. He can be challenging, and taking care of a dog on your own can be tough, but it’s so very worth it.
Living Alone is Expensive
Seriously. There’s no one to split the bills or pay half the rent, and none of those things are cheap. One of the biggest things I miss about having a roommate is not having to stress so much about money. My bills doubled, and then when buying a house they tripled, and now I don’t have any of that expendable income I loved so much before.
Cooking for One is Incredibly Difficult
One of the biggest struggles I’ve had in living alone is cooking for one. Usually I make way too much of something because portioning for one is difficult, and shopping for one is difficult… Most of the time I skip cooking all together because it’s so much work when you’re just doing it for yourself. Then I end up just grabbing something quick on the way home, which is not typically healthy or good for my wallet, or I make myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. High life. lol
How DO you even cook for one? It’s so difficult… Recipes are never portioned for just one person…TWEET IT
I need to start putting together more recipes like my Healthier French Toast for One. It would be useful to other single people who live alone I’ll bet too!
Cleaning Is Even More Difficult
I’m a cluttered person by nature anyway, and I told myself that living alone would make me cleaner since I only had myself to tidy after, but I was wrong… Living alone seems to make it worse. It feels like no one has to see it but me, even though occasionally friends see it or the puppy sitter sees it (thanks for not judging me too harshly friends! haha), and so it sometimes goes way too long. Especially when I’m working and in school, I’m not home enough to think about it so it goes clear until the weekend before it gets picked up… Sometimes longer if my weekends are filled with activities and obligations. Eventually it spirals so far out of control you have no idea where to start. I’m at that point now. lo
Drinking Alone is Okay in Moderation
We hear a lot about how you shouldn’t drink alone, but when you live alone are you just meant to never drink? I had to get over that stigma fast, and now I can enjoy a glass of wine or a beer in the evening without feeling guilty or weird about it.
It’s Easy to Hermit Away
Unfortunately it’s super easy to hermit yourself away when you’re living alone. I spent a lot of time on my couch watching TV instead of going out to friends’ events or parties. I didn’t call people up when I was lonely for the first little while, and I just kind of wallowed in my alone time. While it’s great to enjoy some alone time, it’s not good to hide away from the world and eventually your friends start to resent you for it and you’ll start to resent them when they stop inviting you because you’ve declined or canceled so many times.
You’re Extra Grateful for Time With Good Friends
The good ones understand though, and they’re still there for you when you finally realize you can’t be a hermit and you emerge back into the world. Now, knowing you have to go home to an empty house, you enjoy the time you spend out with your good friends more. You revel in the nights someone crashes on your couch and hits a diner for breakfast with you in the morning, and you love the evenings you crash in the guest room of your second family. Suddenly that quality time is so much more important.
Living Alone Really Makes You Know Yourself Better
I really don’t think that people who’ve never had to spend considerable time alone with themselves actually know themselves fully. I don’t mean that in any kind of judgmental way, I’m sure they know themselves well and whoever they live with knows them well, but the intense level of self knowledge that comes with months or years of living alone just can’t be matched. There was so much I didn’t know I was capable of, so much strength, fear, emotional depth, and so much more that I wouldn’t have fully understood about myself if I hadn’t tried living alone.
I don’t think you ever truly know yourself until you’ve lived alone with no one but yourself for company…TWEET IT
Ultimately, I’m incredibly grateful to have had this experience for these past couple of years; it’s been eye opening. Do I want to live alone forever? No. I don’t. Some day I really want a partner or a spouse that will live with me. Will it be easy adjusting to having someone in my space? Nope, not even a little bit. I’m accustomed to the way my life runs with just Bub and me… Inviting someone else into my space will be a huge change, whether it’s a partner, or just letting a friend live with me (which may be happening, but I’m not sure yet) for a little while.
I’ll make that adjustment eventually, but it may be a painful process at first. Hopefully it’ll be worth it if or when the time comes. We’ll see.