I never thought I could live alone. Living alone was for the fiercely independent, and I was the girl who relied on people for a laundry list of things. When I felt down, I’d sit on my roommate’s bed and talk it out. If I needed to run to the grocery store, there was usually someone riding shotgun.
When you think about it, you live with other people for most of your life. Currently, some of you might be living with roommates, your significant other and/or your parents or family members. Then, you might get married and live with your husband/wife in a home where you can grow old together. Sometimes that involves kids, three dogs or all of the above.
Growing up, I lived with my parents and my younger sister. In college, “home” was a tiny room I shared with a roommate. After the dorms, I lived with three other roommates in a house that wasn’t much bigger. Personal space wasn’t a thing. Styles and personalities and opinions on things like decor were different, and learning how to compromise was a valuable lesson I learned quickly.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved being around people. But even so, I knew I wanted to experience living alone at least once. Before marriage, kids and all of the other “adult” things I had planned for myself, I wanted to know what it felt like to be selfish and not feel ashamed by it. I wanted to live in a space that was 100% mine, where I’d be free to binge watch Netflix, drink wine out of the bottle and walk around sans pants on a random Tuesday.
Was I afraid to live by myself? I was terrified.
Do I think everyone should experience it at least once? Absolutely.
YOU LEARN HOW TO FIX THINGS
Living alone taught me a number of valuable life lessons — like how to fix a running toilet, replace burnt out light bulbs, get over my fear of spiders, cope with noisy neighbors and pay bills on time. I learned that a can of paint and a little creativity can go a long way. And I learned that when said paint gets all over the floor, Goo Gone is the perfect solution.
YOU LEARN TO BUDGET
This was a big one for me. When you’re not splitting bills with someone else, you learn how to manage paying for everything yourself.
YOUR MESS IS YOUR MESS
I wasn’t judged for eating dinner in bed, or for binge watching Netflix for longer than I’d like to admit on the internet. I left dishes in the sink some days. I was guilty for leaving a pile of laundry on my bedroom floor for weeks. But, it was my mess.
YOU GET TO KNOW YOURSELF
Being alone and loneliness are not the same. Living alone taught me that. I learned to be comfortable with and actually enjoy my own company. I gained independence, and it gave me the extra push I needed to grow up. I learned what I liked and developed my sense of personal style.
Fritz and I moved into our new place a few weeks ago. It’s charming and modern and the perfect place to share together. And while I’m excited to create a new home with him, I’ll always look back fondly on my former one-bedroom apartment, and the brief period in my twenties when I lived alone. The time I had to learn and live by myself helped shape me into the person I am today.