The freedom is good until it’s bad
When you think of the positive aspects of living alone, this was probably the first one that came to you. But is it all positive? And what about when a global pandemic is living outside? Can you truly be free inside? I don’t think you thought that part through.
But it’s okay, some of the most memorable decisions aren’t thought through.
It was definitely on the top of the list for reasons why you felt compelled to just go for it. The freedom to do things as you please knowing that you only have yourself to answer to sounded really attractive. No one to challenge you or judge your lazy episodes. You can freely binge-watch The Handmaid’s Tale and cry three times knowing no one can see you and still choose to wait for the next season. Even though you know you will 100% cry again. The behavior police are nowhere to be found.
But you need regularity. You need to create a feeling of home. You need some certainty. Shutdowns for you mean most days will be spent with little to no human interaction. There will be pockets of moments that if unplanned they may fill you with loneliness, or is it boredom? You will struggle to differentiate the two. So, get you some hobbies girl! It is possible to love living alone; you don’t need companionship all the time. Now I’m not saying ignore people. Don’t do that! But I do want you to know that you are perfectly capable of entertaining yourself.
There will be times when you will feel like you need another pair of hands or a second opinion. You will want someone to look after you when you’re sick or you just don’t feel great. Someone to go to shops or make you a nice meal. That’s okay. Feel those things. Don’t push them away. But don’t sit in them either.
Make yourself a nice meal. Present it as you would to someone you love. Make it fancy, wear that dress. And eat, please eat well.
You can’t run away from the loud silence
You won’t notice this until a friend points it out. On a FaceTime call, she will randomly say on a particular night where she happens to be alone:
“I don’t know how you do it. The silence is hard”
Don’t think because you never noticed this before that you must now try to get rid of it just because someone said it’s hard. Don’t do that.
You won’t enjoy pursuing it very much… noise that is.
It’ll leave you drained, and you will wonder where all your thoughts went. It’s okay to be silent sometimes. We both know you are never truly silent; that is hard. What you’re saying just sometimes isn’t audible.
You need to practice intentional connection (and conversation if you’re lucky)
This might be the most important thing. You have to be intentional with making connections and having conversations with other people. No one owes you a message or a phone call. Don’t expect it. When it comes, appreciate it. Practicing intentionality in this aspect of your life may seem awkward at first and a little exhausting, but don’t give up. Go the extra mile; you won’t regret it.
You may be surprised that when you do start living with another someday this habit will naturally follow you and it may make you a better person to live with. Remember that just because there are multiple people in a home, it doesn’t mean they actually talk to each other. It is one thing complaining that no one bothers to contact you, but it’s another thing if you do the same.
Try to make sure that you’re having conversations and not just connections. You will learn that the two are not the same. Make it an effort to speak to someone over the phone for a long time. Yes, hours. It isn’t perfect but it will better mimic the natural way to form meaningful relationships. Don’t let the week go by without having done this. Don’t be so hard on yourself and don’t be so hard on others. Do your part and if they don’t respond at least you can live knowing you tried. Growing in maturity in your relationships comes when you realize you also play a role in what those relationships will look like.
Side note: You will at some point delete a lot of your social media accounts. This may surprise you. But you won’t miss it.
The independence will be great until you can’t be bothered
You are going to go into this thinking you are really independent. But you will slowly start to redefine independence. The view you have is very narrow and this will change over time.
You will stop glamorizing independence and realize as a human you truly do need people. Because sometimes you just can’t be bothered and that is normal.
But you will also learn to do things on your own. New things. For the first time. You will make the most out of not immediately being able to ask someone for help and figure it out yourself and (with the help of the internet if necessary) and it’ll feel great.
You will start to view this new chapter like an adventure, knowing that all does come to an end.
You will start to allow your brain to fully embrace and appreciate the now. Knowing someday you’ll look back and think that was a decision that you made. It wasn’t always good, but it wasn’t bad. The important thing was that you made it.
Budgeting (well, good luck)
You will realize that how you manage your finances counts a lot more when it’s only you. There is no one to split the bills with, so you need to be organized.
If food is missing in the fridge, I assure you no one stole it. You ate it or you didn’t buy any food.
You’re not going to be terrible at this and it may be partly because you have been earning a little extra every month for the last three to four years. Money isn’t going to be something you find particularly difficult to manage. But you will sometimes splurge on things you don’t really need (but want), and that’s okay.
Treat yourself within your means.
You are not going to stick to a budget per se. But you will document roughly what you spend, and you will be fine. The fact that you can’t go anywhere is surprisingly helpful (money-wise, that is).
Your environment is crucial
You will learn that both your inside and outside environment are crucial to your well-being. You will have a Kondo phase and it’ll start to truly feel like home.
You will come to truly appreciate being able to place things where you want and still find them in the same place when you need them.
Having a park nearby to take walks will become really important when it starts to sink in that there is truly nowhere else to go right now.
The change of scenery will become essential and you will even drag yourself out on really cold days. I know, shocking right? We hate the cold.
Safety is something you will start to think about more. The first night will be scary. My tip is to distract yourself. Think about anything but the fact that someone could break in. Pray, journal, listen to music, or read a book.
I assure you we do wake up the next morning, both us and our belongings safe, and many more after that.
Note to self: Watch the news in extreme moderation and with intentionality.
You will feel like there’s suddenly more time
There won’t be anyone to share time with anymore, and you will start realizing that you have a lot more of it. Filling the time will be weird at first, but you will get used to it.
Please do what you want to do; there’s no one to judge you. Unless you tell anyone, no one will know.
Even if you failm at least in the future you can rest in the fact that you tried. Rather than wondering what you could have done if you capitalized on that extra time. Honestly, four months in you will be telling people:
Is it just me, or did last month go by really fast?
So, don’t worry too much. Easier said than done, right?
Note to self: Take up all the space. Laugh really loud, and dance really badly.
People will always have something to say about your decision to live alone
People always have something to say.
Even on matters they’ve never truly experienced themselves. It is an inevitable truth that you cannot run away from. The sooner you learn this the better your responses. And the more confident you will be at making decisions for yourself.
In the end, life is about the choices you make, and if you don’t make any choices you won’t move forward.
So listen to what they have to say. But don’t let it fill you with regret. That is no way to live.
Indulge in the little things that fill you with joy; it will make what’s happening in the world easier to bear.
Someday, if you choose, you will share your space with another. It won’t always be wonderful, but neither is living alone. The important thing is you make the choice intentionally so you can thrive in both environments.
Note to self: If you can, don’t overthink things. You won’t move forward that way.