The first time I lived by myself, weekdays were the best thing that ever happened to me. I did everything when I wanted, did chores at my leisure (which was more often than some former roommates would have done them but less often than others), was amazingly productive at my work, never had to use headphones for podcast listening, and never felt pressured to change out of my PJs if I was staying home all day.
But then the weekends would strike, and if I had plans with someone everything was grand, but if I didn’t… yikes. Living alone suddenly became an all-night binge eating tv marathon fueled by fears that I’d never get married and that maybe all my friends actually hated me. I’d typically cry myself to sleep, only to wake up in the morning wondering what had overtaken me the night before and why I’d collapsed into such a heap of angst.
This fabulous-weekdays-horrible-weekends pattern continued for a few months until I picked up some of the tricks of the trade of living alone, and now, happily, I’ve reached a stage of pretty much just loving it full time. If you’re struggling with living alone or thinking about making the move but not quite sure if it’s for you or not, consider the amazing benefits like these:
You get actual alone quiet time.
In the words of Bella DePaulo, “Living alone isn’t the same as being alone.” These days, even when you live alone, you can pretty much always be electronically connected to others. But when you live by yourself you actually have guaranteed quiet whenever you want to put aside your devices and spend time thinking, meditating, practicing mindfulness, or whatever! It’s extremely hard to come by time like this in the modern world, so anyone who actually lives in an environment where it’s accessible is blessed.
You get to see how independent you actually are.
Living alone forces this realization out of you. Cockroach in your tub at 10:00 pm when you want to take a shower? No one to deal with it but you! IKEA dining table needs assembling? Better grab that screwdriver and figure it out! Even getting the experience of seeking help from your apartment’s maintenance person is a great practice in getting things done without relying on parents or roommates, and while it might seem scary before you do it, it’ll feel empowering AF when you’re done.
You’ll gradually get better at dealing with FOMO.
If you’ve been lucky enough to have good friendly relationships with roommates, then you know that it can be incredibly hard to resist an invitation from them to do something, even when you’ve got work you should be doing or money you should be saving. But when you do not face to face with such temptation and are dealing with it over the phone or text, you’ll probably find it easier to politely decline when that’s what’s best.
So if you want to help yourself get to a place where you can experience the benefits of living alone without the meltdowns of living alone, then consider some of these tips and tricks that will help make the transition easier:
Make a monthly budget.
Odds are that your rent/mortgage is higher than when you lived with roommates or parents, and of course, you’re aware of that, but there can be small unexpected additional expenses, too. Utilities are all your responsibility now; you might have to pay for laundry while it used to be free at mom and dad’s; you might have to transit to work yourself instead of carpooling with roommates. These little expenses add up, so it’s important to make yourself a detailed monthly budget and stick to it.
Make daily to-do lists.
You might be a compulsive cleaner, but if you’re not, then it can be easier to slack on household chores when there’s no one regularly in your place to see it except you. Make daily to-do lists that incorporate cleaning and you’ll be more likely to have a tidy place that actually feels pleasant to live in.
Make specific plans for yourself when you know you’ll be home alone…
I found that the answer to combat my weekend night angst was planning something fun to do just by myself. Sometimes this was coloring while catching up on a favorite show (I’m not above the adult coloring trend), sometimes it was reading a great book, and sometimes it was baking. Whatever it was, just setting an activity in my head that I was going to do for myself by myself made it feel like a fun present rather than lonely loser time. It’s a great form of self-care!
…But commit to going out at regular intervals.
While there definitely will be times when you get to just enjoy a chill night in, try to make sure you’re still socializing at regular intervals. This can vary from person to person; some might feel like once every two weeks is enough while another person needs at least three social activities a week to feel they’re getting their social needs met. The idea is just to make sure that you don’t come to love alone time so much that you stop balancing it out. If you’re really all about your new place, you can invite people over!
Make the place yours, but only as you have the resources to do so.
When I first started living alone, I had a mental vision for exactly what I wanted the place to look like (floating bookshelves in quirky patterns on the walls! succulents! landscape art! colorful armchairs! twinkly lights!), but the reality didn’t match the vision for probably over a year. Moving is expensive, and I had to buy these décor items one piece at a time, little by little. Having a home that reflects your personality is definitely going to help you to love your new place, but don’t feel like you have to break the bank to do so. It’ll get there, even if it’s one piece at a time, little by little.
For some people, living alone is the ultimate dream; for others, it seems more like a nightmare. But either way, just like living with roommates, the experience is really what you make of it. If you approach it the right way, living alone can be just the step you need to make you more independent, self-aware, resourceful, and relaxed.
Are you struggling with any of the confusing issues that surround “adulting,” like living alone? If so, you can call us at (305) 501-0133 or click here to schedule a free 20-minute Clarity Consult