5 lessons learned living alone

Jeans-and-tee-Dee

living alone is all it is cracked up to be

Almost six years.  That’s how long I’ve lived alone.  Before that I’d always lived with family or a roommate or two.  I’ve learned a lot from those experiences one of which is learning to have consideration—whether it’s deciding what to cook for dinner or opting to order pizza, communicating about divvying up the bills, bobbing and weaving over little annoyances like leaving the cap off the toothpaste or thinking too long about the dishes that have now been sitting in the sink for at least thirty minutes.  And we can’t forget the unspoken curfew to get home at a decent hour while under parental guidance.  Considerations.  They come in all forms.  Considering someone else’s feelings, their space, their preferences, their points of view. Making your plate and their’s too.  Tidying up your side so that you don’t seem disorganized.  Little considerations and big considerations come along with living with other people but I have news for you when it comes to living alone.  Considerations go out the door.  It’s a whole new ball game.  {Yes, what you just read was me pulling off to the side of the road of the subject of living alone}  >>>Back on track…

Only like Carrie

First let me tell you, I have never really had the desire to live alone, never.  Ok well maaaybe~ except and only if it was in a Carrie Bradshaw kind of way– the super cool brownstone, in Manhattan, with a ridiculous walk-in closet, way too many shoes, the magazine Vogue career, of course Big, minus Aidan>>> You get the idea– back to what I was saying>>>  So yeah, no real-real desire to live alone.  Truth be told, I was a little terrified of it.  And this only supported my fear of being single.  “Why?  Why would I want that? To be single.  AND living alone.  Nuts!”  Bear in mind that at this time I was also a New Yorker who couldn’t afford to live alone.  Even if I could afford to live alone in NY I’d have some kind of unwanted rodent pet name Marty living with me and the place would be soooo small I could reach out of my bubble bath to flip my protein pancakes fry my egg whites.  I mean, that’s New York!  Tiny apartments!! Ridiculous rents!!!  But you know what?  No matter what I will always ♥ NY.  Flaws and all!  

So after a series of endless nothing but God happenings* I found myself living in California.  At first it wasn’t smooth sailing which is a bedtime story I’ll tell you another time but when the dust eventually settled I found myself in a cute one-bedroom cottage type apartment.  I hadn’t planned on it, it was really not even my doing.  More on that another time>>> I had so much of a transition happening with me, in me, around me, for me that I didn’t really have time to think about this “living alone” fear, it was more like being grateful to not be homeless, and just being glad to be alive.  Fast forward to year six of living alone and not always having done it right nor mastered the art of it and I’m scoring an A in some areas while toggling between a D- and an F in others but here are 5 lessons I have learned living alone:

It’s not as lonely and scary as you think. There can be a misconception about living alone that you will be sad, lonely, single and die a cat lady.  Hogwash!  {Plus, I’m a dog person.}  To prevent living like an island– stay in touch with friends and family.  It’s as simple as picking up the phone when it rings and when it doesn’t ring call them. Stepping outside and getting to know your neighbors is a good idea too.  This doesn’t mean baking them cookies and Netflix+chilling together but just simply knowing who they are and where they live in proximity to your place.  Perhaps nodding when you pass each other, saying hello in your goings+comings lets you both acknowledge each other’s presence.  It’s a subtle silent conversation sometimes words aren’t even necessary.  Neighbors tend to keep an eye out for each other.  Just don’t isolate yourself and become an island.  Get up, get out, and get vibrant about your life.  Write down your hobbies and go after them one by one.

Discipline is the name of the game. Because what living alone will do is reveal and highlight your strengths and weaknesses, your likes and dislikes. Case in point—Cooking— cooking for myself alone– it’s definitely in my not favorite category.  I trace it back to the fact that I like to host (maybe hosted two events in my entire life) so I enjoy cooking for other people to enjoy the food because I like to plate and present it but living alone has made me just want to get it done as quickly as possible. 3 seconds into a flat pan and it’s over. The cost and comfort of knowing what you put into your food are benefits that often outweigh those of eating out.  It just takes some discipline to meal prep and plan.  Another case is the one for the crisply made bed which is extra optional when you live alone since nobody but you knows whether you made it or not.  I mean I love a made bed with white linen and the whole hotel experience.  I need to consider the time that it takes to make the bed and maintain that hotel experience. Because it doesn’t just happen that way, it takes discipline and discipline is often uncomfortable, but ultimately rewarding.  The discipline to be accountable to yourself.

100% adulting – The bills are all yours. You turn on a light, you pay for it.  You run the water, you pay for it.  Reading this on your fancy iPhone?  You pay for it.  Little brownstone in Brooklyn?  You pay for it.  The bills are all yours.  You are 100% adulting at this point.  A window breaks, the plumbing is shot, the ceiling fan stops working.   The whole responsibility is upon you and you can handle it.  Don’t run from it.  Don’t get lack luster and lazy with it.  If you need help or guidance reach out and ask for help.  If you don’t have family to help pay the bills, get advice on how to get a handle on paying the bills.  Get advice on how to get it fixed.  It happens, life, sometimes we get a little over our heads or a little under but regardless, whatever comes, reach out.  Don’t let it pile up and don’t let it sink your ship.

Peace and quiet – Shhhh. It’s only you and your shadow.  This means that you get to play the kind of music you want, or sit in silence and listen to yourself breathe.  You get to watch the TV shows you want without fighting for the remote, no negotiations whatsoever.   Read, sleep, write, cook or do absolutely nothing while still in your PJs and it’s 3pm on a Saturday.  When you arrive home from work, that’s it, there’s no one else coming home.  You know you’ve locked the door, you know you’ve turned off the coffee maker and yes, you did pull out the cord for the iron.  No noise, no shouting, no phone conversations impeding your thoughts.  Just you, your thoughts, your choices.  Because that’s what happens when it’s just you and your thoughts; you get to make choices.  You decide whether you’re going to get out of bed at 7am or stay in bed until noon.  No judgments.  The peace and quiet time is a precious time and when afforded take full advantage of it to encourage yourself, better yourself and go deep.  You see it’s not only an external peace and quiet but internal as well.  This is a time when you can get quiet and shut down the external noises and get quiet internally—hear your thoughts, feel your feelings, do some work, heal some wounds, a good time to pray.

Décor and taste – Pink curtains?  White couch?  A Jungalow living room?  Have at it!  You get to decorate and design how you want.   You get to define and refine your taste.  Not what you think you like but what you actually like.  If you do it and don’t like it, change it up.  There will come a time when you might have to masculinize the place so that the space reflects ‘his’ and ‘hers.’  There may come a time when you have to space plan for the toy train track and the mini Barbie mansion that will take up the living room.  This, is not that time.   However it’s such a good time to let loose, get creative and develop your personal style aesthetic.  Maybe you try an all-white Scandinavian living room or raid a flea market and go full art deco, perhaps a Boho bedroom is your thing.  Get a little playful with stripes or even wallpaper the bathroom.  Interested in Shabby chic?  The time is now.  A pink accent wall? Sounds good to me.  This spills over into your own preference for everything too.  Your choices are less influenced by someone else’s choices+ideas+suggestions…which will be fine one day…but not today.  Today learn about you.

All things considered I think it’s good to live alone for a bit, it’s hard to describe it has to be experienced.

*miracles.  When God shows up and does some things that are incredibly impossible.


Top: Zara

Skirt: Levi’s

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