I live alone. For the first time in all of my dozens of years on this earth, I’m the queen of my own castle. I went from 3 siblings to 300 freshman dorm-mates, to one zillion sorority sisters, and once I graduated, logic and budget and fun told me to just keep the cohabitation trend going. I consistently had 1-3 roommates from the years of 2005-2013. One of them remained constant from college to Chicago to Nashville and we were really close to qualifying for common law marriage, but then she got actually-married and saved us both from the embarrassment.
read this if you're in your saving era this summer
So on a (very) cold day in December when I pulled my rusty Penske truck up to my 2nd floor walk-up, and didn’t have to figure out whose boxes were whose, or draw straws for the bigger room, or pick which utility bill I’d have in my name, I knew I was embarking on an adventure.
It’s only been a few months, but here are some lessons I’ve learned from living alone:
You will find out definitively if you are an introvert or an extrovert.
My mom warned me that I would be lonely and isolated if I lived by myself. But this is because she’s always been convinced I’m an extrovert. Jokes on you, mom (Jk, love you!) because I’ve always known in my heart of hearts that while I am outgoing and social, I recharge best alone. This lesson was especially potent for me because I work from home, so I don’t even have co-workers to get some human interaction with. But days have passed where I haven’t seen a soul (in my defense this was in the middle of Chicago’s most brutal winter,) and I’ve never felt more refreshed.
It’s always pants-optional o’clock.
Without roommates or their friends/boyfriends ruining things, you can confidently and happily wear whatever you want around the house without fear of an awkward run in, “Oh, sorry! I thought you were going to the gym, Lisa. I’ll put pants back on.” This is freedom at its finest.
You are cleaner/messier than you think.
This one works both ways. When your house is a disaster it’s clear that it wasn’t always those pesky roommates who were to blame (but wasn’t that a glorious justification to have on deck?) And when it’s clean you can take comfort that you have yourself to thank and even more importantly, that it will stay that way. There’s just something so nice about knowing that the asshole who left their dishes in the sink again…is you.
You talk to yourself. A lot.
I’ve always known I was a chatterer, but it gets worse when you live alone. Maybe it’s about making a noise in an otherwise quiet house, or maybe I am losing my mind (it’s possible,) but I have found myself muttering out loud more than once. And by ‘I have found myself,’ I mean I’ve had guests in town who overhear me and call me out.
You will run out of food and you are the last line of defense and it is the worst.
I was guilty of the most offensive of all roommate offenses: eating food that does not belong to me. I always (usually) replaced it or fessed up, but it was such a lovely backup plan for those moments where you just need a snack/smoothie/soup and your side of the pantry is bare. Living alone means that when you are out of groceries, you are actually, painfully out of groceries and I guess the Thai delivery guy is going to have to make his well-worn route to your house for the 2nd time this week (and it’s only Wednesday.) Or something.
THE TV IS ALL YOURS FOREVER AMEN
I do not have DVR, but if I did I’d be so happy that it was only my shows on there. And even sans DVR, living alone means that if you want to slum it and watch American Idol this season (because J.LO,) then you can do so and no one can complain about it or judge you.
You enjoy drinking alone.
And dancing alone, for that matter. And no, this isn’t a commercial for tampons. No need to call my loved ones and prepare them for a possible intervention, it’s simply a living-alone-luxury that I never knew about until now. It’s quite lovely to craft a fancy cocktail just to curl up with a book, or pour a glass of wine while you cook for yourself. Or, ya know, put on “Dancing On My Own” in your kitchen on a Monday night for no reason except that you can.
Just the other night I was reading a heart-wrencher book in bed, and as I shed a few tears, I realized how special it was to have the privacy to do so. When I threw my iPad next to me in bed and turned off the light, I was grateful all over again for this time in my life where I get to rule my roost and make the rules. And the crazy part? Living alone is the farthest thing from lonely I have ever felt.
This article was originally published on April 4, 2014.