Real Talk: Living Alone

Sunday, April 5, 2015

It has been officially three months since I embarked on my latest journey: living by myself. It's weird, I never really thought about how I've always lived with other people until the day my best friend (who was staying with me for the first week after I moved in) left for her own place in the city. Bam. There I was, sitting on my - thankfully super comfortable - bed, in silence.


I've talked a lot about roommates before, and have been blessed with some amazing people to share an apartment with, so why did I make the leap to living solo before I even graduated from college? To tell you the truth, I'm not really sure. Logistically, it just made sense. I was coming back to Chicago from Paris and figured the apartment search for one would be easier, plus I didn't want the added stress of finding a new roommate - something about having already had great roommates and not wanting to test my luck with another stranger? Either way, I made the decision a while back and just stuck with it. Despite the insane difficulty of finding a place in January (seriously, don't ever try it) and hauling my stuff down here in the midst of winter (thank you X a million to my parents, bestie & little for helping!!), I made it.
I can't say I haven't had a few breakdowns here and there, but I made it.
And to celebrate my three monthiversary of being I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T (well, sorta) I am bringing you all some advice on taking the plunge to live with you, yourself and...you.
1. Make your place cute and cozy. There's nothing worse than coming home to a blank space (TSwift reference intended) and when you're by yourself, it's magnified X 100. Those crafts you've been meaning to do? Do them. Check Michael's for a frame sale and go crazy. Buy posters from that hipster store in that hipster neighborhood. Whatever floats your boat, as long as it makes the space YOURS.
2. Set multiple alarms. The number one thing I struggle with is getting to sleep and waking up. I've spent my whole life around people, and I didn't realize that this also meant my internal clock has spent its entire life around people. Meaning when I'm not around people, it literally doesn't know what to do. With roommates, not only do they wake you up to hangout, but their daily routine sets a standard for what yours should be. Sure, some days I would stay up later or get up earlier, but I always had a fairly good gauge on what time it was due to them (because apparently my own body can't figure this out?). So now I have to force myself to go to sleep somedays and ditto for waking up. But those times when I desperately need to stay up late to catch up are a lot nicer when I don't have to tip-toe around in the dark!
3. Keep a busy, but reasonable schedule. Toward the beginning of my time as a solo dweller, I was coming back from a whirlwind European trip and entering into the bleak Chicago winter. The first few weeks were tough because I didn't have a routine, shifts at work, homework, meetings for school organizations or an internship to occupy my time. In retrospect, I envy the amount of free time I had, but I'm also glad that my days are packed now. I always give myself the evenings and some weekend time free, but being busy or gone all the time distracts from the loneliness of hanging out by myself so much.

4. Step up to the plate. You're by yourself now. The cable company is not going to get called, the rent check won't be put in the mailbox and that burnt-out lightbulb won't be fixed...unless you do it. I've learned so much about how much I can handle on my own these past few months. From crazy customer service to paying bills to fixing curtain rods to teaching myself how to light a Bic lighter. I'm not saying I want to do this eternally, but there's nothing quite like the feeling you get after accomplishing something with no one else's help!

5. Roll out the welcome mat. Now more than ever, I value the friends I have and had. With roommates, it's like a built-in friendship. You get to share the highs and lows with them, girls nights in and out, frustrating homework/deadlines and more. Without that person in the next room over, you have to work at friendship. It's taught me a lot more about who I want in my life and who isn't worth the effort. Take away the convenience and it changes things - but I'm pretty sure it's all for the better. Don't forget to send out those invites to friends though. The biggest mistake I made was thinking people would come over on their own to hang out. Make time in your schedule for wine nights and coffee dates and weekend brunches. Living alone doesn't have to be lonely if you're proactive!

These are just my small nuggets of wisdom from my short stint in this studio apartment, but I like to think I've grown ten-fold during this time. 

Do you live alone? Are you thinking about it? Any advice I missed? 

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4 comments:

  1. I so needed to read this today! It's my first official holiday by myself, and even just being alone for four days in my dorm room has been both thrilling and depressing. You always seem to write just what I need to hear :)

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    1. Oh goodness - I remember my first Easter in college, I was alone as well and it was such a shock. I ended up taking myself out for brunch and actually really enjoyed just hanging out in a cafe by myself! Try it sometime, you might be surprised. :)
      Hopefully the holiday went well for you!

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  2. I loved living alone - it was the ultimate retreat and a place I could do whatever the heck I wanted. HOWEVER, my biggest piece of advice is to plan meals ahead of time and make freezer-friendly food - it was entirely too easy for me to eat ice cream out of the carton and devour clearance holiday candy when nobody was there to judge me!

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    1. Definitely agree! I have a lot of questionable "dinners" but meal planning has helped a lot!

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