I’m moving in with Zach…eek! I can’t express how excited and relieved I am that we are finally in a place where we can do this - it’s been such a long time coming. That said, my heart is a bit heavy leaving behind a home, and a life, that I’ve loved so much for so long. From the time I moved out of my parents’ nest until now, I have always lived alone. I built a life and a safety net for myself that I could call my own, and the thought of opening it up an sharing it with someone else is terrifying and exhilarating and messy (quite literally on that last one, we both have a lot of stuff to consolidate).
So since I’m embarking on this new and exciting journey, I thought I’d reflect on some of the finer life lessons I’ve learned during my precious years of solidarity.
Any Furniture Is Good Furniture
Being only 20 and having just spent almost my entire savings on a home and all of it’s upfront and costly repairs, I realized I had very little left to spend on the furnishings to actually fill the place. I spent weeks frantically scouring the internet for as much used, often mismatched, furniture and housewares I could find to complete my new little home. Coupled with hand-me-downs and Goodwill treasures, I piece-mealed each room into its own unique space.
Would I have loved to decorate my house like my dreamiest Pinterest board right out of the gate? Of course. But when you live alone, and especially when you’re in your first place or two, you realize pretty quickly that those things don’t matter as much. There are bills to pay and food to buy and many more expenses you never even realized could occur, so settling for a $25 dining room table from Craigslist or living off a single frying pan for nearly 3 years becomes a welcomed accomplishment.
This lesson took me a while to really grasp. Sure I paid my bills on time and I made sure Daisy didn’t starve, but I certainly did a shit job of taking care of myself for a while. I would routinely go days without leaving the couch, even to sleep. I avoided the grocery store until it was absolutely necessary, and only ate until it was absolutely necessary. I neglected my hobbies and isolated myself a lot. And sometimes I would do the opposite and “friend binge” for weeks at a time, partying and doing as much as I could to avoid responsibilities and the thoughts in my own head.
While it took me some time to figure out I was depressed, it didn’t take me nearly as long to figure out how pull myself out of it. I started working part-time at a local coffeehouse to meet new people, I went on more hikes with Daisy and took trips by myself. I started making time for friends and family, and dedicated time for myself to re-charge and reflect. I realized that living alone, and being an adult in general, meant that I was responsible for my own well-being and happiness. No one was there to check up on me to make sure I got dressed in the morning or didn’t spend all day in front of the TV. I had to prioritize myself first so the rest could thrive.
Your Standards Will Change
For better or for worse, they will change. Living alone, you may find yourself not wearing pants (or any clothes at all, I’m not judging) around the house, or going days without doing dishes because no one else is around to nag you about them. Oppositely, you will realize that utilities are expensive, and come winter you might opt to throw on another layer instead of raise the thermostat.
My personal standards for how I keep myself and my house have changed drastically over the past few years, most of which has to do with me simply growing up a little. I don’t leave lights on like I used to, nor do I let the dishes pile up or the floors stay dirty for too long. I hate having clutter and waste, so these standards I’ve set are ones I can live with, but ultimately living alone gives you the freedom to set those standards, whatever they may be. And boy, that’s freedom at its finest.
Get Comfortable With DIY
When you live alone, and especially if you own your own home, mastering DIY projects can feel like an enormous challenge at first. You’re either faced with fumbling through it on your own or hiring someone, and both options suck when you’re inexperienced and broke. In my first couple years of living alone I navigated broken toilet handles, ripping up carpet, painting, leaky sinks, frozen pipes, landscaping, and more.
These sorts of necessary home projects aren’t always my favorite way to spend an afternoon, but I have become a lot less fearful of tackling them on my own…or at least trying to before calling a professional!
You’ll Love Yourself More
Living alone gives you ample quality time to get to know yourself better. You’ll learn new hobbies, pick up new friends along the way, and learn things about yourself that you otherwise might not have had the chance to explore if not for the solitude of your own space. Living alone gave me the chance to read more, write more, play music more, explore more, and enjoy more, and do it all on my own terms and on my own time.