28 July 2018

8 Things I Learned From Living Alone

If you have followed me online for a while, you have probably noticed that I've been almost consistently in relationships since I was 16. I've also always lived with someone else (different family members and then later boyfriends) for my entire life. I've spent the past 30 days completely alone, and I learned a few things.

These might seem trivial, unimportant, or obvious to you if you live alone yourself. But to me they aren't.

My boyfriend is in the military and left for training this past month. It's been a test of our relationship because we know that it is inevitable that we will be spending a year apart in the future. It's been tough, but it has also been graciously a short time apart.

One month seemed incredibly daunting at first, and let me tell you that everyone who says the first two weeks are the worst... they're right. Not only was I barred from any communication with my romantic partner who I've lived with for a year, but I was left to maintain and manage the apartment all on my own. Which is something I've never done before beyond a week or so when family would go on holiday.

So I definitely learned a lot about myself, about my relationship, and about living alone. I'd like to share these with you, maybe they will provide you some insight if you are about to go out on your own as well or remind you how it is at the beginning if you've been on your own for a while.

We can all learn someone new from stepping into someone else's shoes for a moment.

Things I took for learned:

  1. It is much harder to get dressed with nobody to help zip you up, fix your lacing, or tell you if your straps are twisted in the back (forget being able to straighten them!)
  2. Being able to hide from myself. I struggle with depression and social anxiety, and being with my partner enables me to hide from my inner demons and distract myself from things for a while. Being alone really brings it all to the surface, you can't bury it under taking care of someone you love and being taken care of in return. Emotional labor keeps your mind busy, and when you don't have to do it for anyone else... you're forced to deal with your demons.
  3. The bed feels bigger both in a good and bad way. It's absolutely lovely to spread out and not get squished to the edge of the mattress in the middle of the night, but it's lonely to wake up and look over at an empty pillow.
  4. It's difficult to cook for one. I love cooking and baking, and it really makes me happy and fulfilled to feed my partner home cooked meals. But when I'm alone I have much less motivation to cook anything more complicated than stiryfry. It's hard to eyeball one-person ingredient portions, you end up with so much leftovers, and you have to do 100% of the dishes.
  5. Absence does make the heart grow fonder but at a price. You're going to have bad days where you ugly cry all over the place. Sob into your food, in traffic after work, in the shower, spotting a little thing they forgot to put away before they left. I had lots of good days (as time went on), and I've really learned to appreciate my relationship.
  6. Nobody will judge you for throwing away the ends of the bok choy. And other things. Eating, watching, listening, and generally spending time the way you want without having to think about someone else's preference is definitely a benefit to living alone. Pants are optional! The bathmat is always dry! Nobody yells at you for leaving the bedroom door open!
  7. Things stay too clean. The more people you live with, the more often you have to clean. I stress clean, so after a while I don't have anything left that's dirty. And because it's only me, it takes much longer to get dirty again. Except dishes, those never go away.
  8. Life partners just make life easier. Some stressful things happened to me during that month that were really hard for me to deal with on my own. A good support network is so vital to staying sane, but your friends have to go home eventually. Some problems you just need someone to take off your hands for a bit and reassure you that everything is going to be okay. Adulting is hard, but it is harder alone.

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