I originally chose to live alone after some bad luck with roommates in college. Being a journalist, I knew I’d have an odd schedule and didn’t want to bother a roommate. I also longed for complete independence and a place I could truly call my own. I ended up living alone through most of my 20s and really enjoyed it. It was a time in my life when I really got to explore what I wanted in life career-wise. I learned what I desired as far as a relationship and also was able to delve deeper into my faith. Ultimately, where I am now was a result of meaningful reflection while living on my own. As a freelancer, I am my own boss. I have found a church I love and a boyfriend who meets my relationship needs. Here are just some of the life lessons I learned while living alone:
It’s okay to feel lonely
When I first felt lonely living on my own, I began to worry that it was a bad feeling, and I shouldn’t feel so alone. The truth is, it’s completely fine to feel this way. I’m a very social person. So, when I’m alone for more than an afternoon, I feel like I want to call someone to talk. To combat any loneliness, I would often call one of my three sisters or brother, or one of my best friends, and talk for hours. It always made me feel better.
Learning to cook makes things so much better
Trust me, I used to create so many “meals” when I was living alone, whether it was saltines and the last bit of peanut butter from the jar or a handful of leftover grapes and some scrambled eggs. While I spent many nights grabbing a bit of this or that for dinner, I also took living alone as the chance to learn to cook. I had brave friends over to try dinners I made. These dinners ended up creating traditions my friends and I keep to this day, like making Julia Child’s boeuf bourguignon around Valentine’s Day and hosting a Friendsgiving the Saturday before Thanksgiving.
Take time to discover what makes you happy
While living alone, I signed up for a tennis lesson, a golf lesson, personal training, dance classes, and other activities, both with and without friends. By making my way through the menagerie of “extracurriculars” after work and on the weekends, I was able to figure out exactly what I was interested in. Now, I know there’s nothing like a good jog, a night catching up on my DVR, or a movie in the theaters on my own, as that’s what makes me happy.
It’s perfectly fine to double (or triple) check security
I used to get up often before I’d actually fall asleep to make sure my front door’s deadbolt was in the lock position. I’ll even admit to flipping up my comforter and peering under my bed to make sure there were no intruders. Don’t think you’re crazy—it’s important to feel safe, especially at home.
Make a bucket list and start checking things off
Have you always wanted to travel? Or do you dream of writing a novel? Sometimes, living alone allows for some extra moments completely to yourself. For me, it was a great time to think about those goals I always wanted to accomplish, write them down, and start checking things off. While I lived alone, I managed to save up for a trip to Europe with my two best friends, write a novel at 24, and finally got my driver’s license, seven years late.
Living alone has taught me not to worry so much about being alone and to savor that time to reflect and relax. My time on my own allowed me to pursue goals and try new activities without any distractions. It prepared me to figure out healthy ways to destress and what qualities attracted me to a friend or romantic partner. Living alone helped shape the person I am today, and I know it was the best thing for me at that time.
Originally published on November 3, 2017.