I’m twenty-three years old and I’ve just spent that past twelve months living alone. Let me tell you, it’s been an overwhelming experience but I absolutely love it. For starters, I am pretty much 100% independent and self-sufficient and it feels good. I’m the master of my own fate.
It’s a pretty sweet deal but, much like anything in life, living alone isn’t without its challenges. After all, you are now fully responsible for your well being and safety. Who are you going to call when you wake up to a noise in the night? There’s no more hiding underneath the bed – you learn to cope on your own. And spoiler alert: you’re going to have to kill a spider at some stage.
So, here are a few of the life lessons I’ve learned in my first twelve months of living independently.
Give yourself time to adjust
Once the initial excitement wears off – and trust me, it will – reality sets in and you’re going to feel all kinds of emotions. It’s perfectly normal to feel a little overwhelmed and anxious. And that’s okay – it’s a lot to deal with. Give yourself the opportunity to adjust to your new normal. That means giving yourself permission to feel tired and blue. I promise you it will pass.
★ Pro Tip: For those hard days, make lists. What really helped me cope that first month were daily spreads. You could start a bullet journal or, you can just make a good ol’ fashioned “to do list”. And you don’t necessarily have to stick to said list either – they’re more like guidelines anyway. But, you’ll always have something to keep yourself busy.
You’re going to feel lonely
This might be a no-brainer but the biggest adjustment when living alone is the loneliness. Especially over those first initial weeks. If you’ve lived with a big, noisy family or on a campus the silence can be very unsettling. You’ll be coming home to an empty house and you’ll be eating your meals alone. Basically, you’ll be living in your own head. If you’re an overly anxious person like me, living in your own head can be dangerous.
Just kidding but not really. And overthinking or anxious thoughts are so not your friend.
★ Pro Tip: Stay in control of chaotic thoughts by practicing self-care and mindfulness. Taking a few moments out of your day for meditation or some intentional journaling is like chicken noodle soup for the soul. Putting pen to paper clears your mind and helps you gain a fresh, subjective perspective.
Another tip is to leave a light or the radio on when you leave for work. That way, you’ll come home at the end of the day to a warm, welcoming environment. Also, you’re pets will love you for it.
Your newfound independence will spark a journey of self-discovery
Okay, so we’ve covered some challenges but living alone isn’t all doom and gloom. In fact, what I love most about being independent is my new sense of self-love. Living in your own head might seem daunting at first but it gives you the chance to become more in-tune with your deeper self. Not only will you learn how to do things on your own and discover those hidden strengths but you’re going to feel all kinds of capable. Most importantly, you’re going to learn to be happy in your own company. And that’s something that no partner can ever teach you. Trust me.
★ Pro Tip: Use your down time to do some self-reflecting. This is your chance to figure out what you want without the influence of others. Get creative, discover a new hobby, take a class and chase your goals. Make it happen – the sky’s the limit!
Bask in your glorious solidarity
Speaking of self-discovery, don’t forget to bask in the fact that you are independent and that’s freaking cool AF! I mean, overbearing parents who??? Celebrate the fact that you can be unapologetically yourself and embrace those quirks! All I’m saying is some of you haven’t danced around the kitchen in your Disney PJs on a Friday night with a glass of wine to This Is How We Do It and it shows.
★ Pro Tip: Create some mood playlists because when you live alone, every night has the potential to be lit. Not only can you sing in the shower – or anywhere else for that matter – as loud as you want but who doesn’t love dancing around the house in socks? Also, bonus: you don’t need to take it to the mat for the rights to the TV.
That being said – do make plans and get out
The biggest struggle when living alone is keeping a healthy balance when it comes to your social life. I learnt this one the hard way. It’s all too easy to fall into that trap of always staying in. After all – shit’s expensive. And no, work or grocery shopping does not count as going out. Don’t become a spinster. Don’t become stuck in your own head. Make plans – especially when you don’t want to – and stick to those plans.
★ Pro Tip: Use your freedom and general lack of parents to broaden those horizons! You’re young, wild and free – why not try that new restaurant or club down the street? Maybe even take yourself out for a coffee with a new book? Just make sure you’re joining civilization every now and then. Also, having plans will keep loneliness and boredom at bay while making that daily grind easier. Work hard, play harder and all that.
Do you live alone? Are you planning to make that move? Do you have any life lessons of your own to share? I’d love to hear from you – let’s chat in the comments below!