I left my parents’ home pretty sharpish when I was sixteen. Since then I have lived in a wide variety of places and situations. Sometimes with roommates, sometimes with a live-in landlady, and sometimes with a partner.
But on three occasions I have lived completely, one hundred percent on my own. These periods of time have felt a mixture of wildly liberating and lonely, free and responsible, relaxing and stressful.
There is nothing like being completely on your own for growing you as a person and also teaching you about yourself. Here are seven things that I believe you come to understand from living on your own.
1. You are totally responsible for yourself
Liberating and terrifying in equal measures, being in charge of your own home makes you 100% responsible for the rent, bills, and all the admin that goes with that. This can feel very empowering, or somewhat overwhelming. But however you feel about it, you gain a real understanding of adult responsibility.
2. You have no one to blame for your eating habits
I know many of my female friends, okay, myself too, like to blame weight gain on eating ‘man-sized’ portions with their boyfriend. When you live on your own you can’t really displace blame for three nights in a row of takeaways.
A lot of us are in denial about how many calories we really put away. When you stock your own fridge and cook all your meals, you will gain some insight into your eating habits. Now is a great time to boost your resolve and eat a little better. And the great news, no one is going to steal your food.
3. The power of the mind
For all the joys of having your own space, there are downsides too. For women especially, being alone can make you feel more vulnerable to the dangers of this world.
I found that when I first lived alone, the single worst thing I ever did for my state of mind was to watch a horror movie alone in my home. Suddenly every shadow was a threat.
4. Even introverts can get lonely
I am quite introverted, but even I managed to get lonely once or twice in my last bachelorette pad. To be completely honest this really took me by surprise. This experience gave me a better understanding of my need for human interaction… once in a while, with firm boundaries, of course.
5. Freedom is intoxicating
No parent, sibling, spouse or roommate to compromise with. You really can have everything your own way. Personally, the last time I lived alone was after a bad relationship came to an end. To go from feeling stuck and controlled to being the captain of my own ship was truly gratifying.
I fully embraced my new freedom, and on moving day I purchased the most colorful bed sheets I could find. They had a bright blue butterfly print, and I would never have been allowed these by my ex.
What I understood from this experience was that I had been repressing my personality with my former partner. Being in my own space gave me room to find myself again.
6. Wherever I lay my hat, that is my home
The Paul Young song of this title was about being always on the road, so I am taking the title a little out of context. But for me, the idea of home being wherever you put your stuff down is about making the most of the space that you have.
Something that having my own home has taught me is that it is about so much more than bricks and mortar. It is about what you do to put your stamp on the place, and how you feel there.
7. You understand yourself better
For me, I found that living on my own gave me a better understanding of myself. Without the drama and noise of family or roommates, I was alone with my own thoughts for more of the day.
I learned that I have the capacity to be lonely. I learned that I am more of a morning person when I am not kept awake at night. I understood that I had been repressing elements of myself with past partners.
Although living alone is not for everyone, I think it is an illuminating experience that everyone could benefit from trying at least once in their lifetime.
How about you? Do you prefer being the captain of your own ship, or do you like a full house? Please leave me a comment below.