After moving out of our parents’ houses, it’s become pretty normal for us millennials (hah) to live with roommates throughout our twenties, often until we get married and settle down. A lot of people can go their life without living alone.
I think everyone should have the opportunity to live alone in their early 20’s. No roommates, no significant others, just you and your thoughts. You learn a lot about yourself, but more importantly you learn to live life fully for yourself, not letting your actions or happiness be affected by anyone else. There is no one to hold you back from accomplishing your goals or chasing your dreams.
There is just you, and everything is up to you.
It’s been a challenge for me at times but a great experience that I’m thankful for and I don’t know if I want to go back to living any other way.
I started living completely alone when I was 22, and have lived alone ever since besides a brief 8 months last year. I was absolutely terrified at first but it was one of the best decisions I ever made. I’ve experienced so much growth and self discovery as a result that I can’t even imagine the person I would be if I hadn’t taken the opportunity to live alone.
Don’t get me wrong, living with roommates is great too and I have SO many amazing memories from the roommates I have lived with in the past, but for the sake of this blog post I am just going to focus on the ways I grew as a result of living alone.
Before I lived alone, I was a completely different person. I…
- Always relied on others
- Never really made my own plans and was scared to do things on my own
- Waited around for others to decide what to do rather than doing what I wanted to do
- Was always concerned about what others thought
- Hated being alone
- Thought I couldn’t even afford to live alone if I tried
- Felt like I didn’t really have any control over my life.
Living alone has helped me change ALL of this. Here are the 7 biggest things I have learned and you can learn from living alone:
1. You’ll learn how to be happy alone.
This is so incredibly important and something that I feel sooo many people miss out on before they jump into relationships. Nobody really likes being alone. I mean, some people do, but most people don’t like being lonely. I’m pretty introverted and need time alone to recharge, but I hate being lonely.
What you have to do when you live alone is teach yourself how to be alone all the time, without being lonely. It’s a shift in mindset. That’s really all it is. Rather than thinking about how alone/lonely you are, wishing you had someone there to spend time with, think about it in a positive way. You have the opportunity to enjoy your own company. To learn to be happy without needing anyone else.
You may be alone, but that does NOT mean lonely.
After recently moving across the country to live in a new city alone, I’ve had some friends back home say things to me about being alone here in an almost pitying way, like they felt bad for me and assumed I would be lonely. This was confusing to me! Hearing things like this made me a little sad, because I realized the people who said them may have never really learned what the differences of being “alone” and “lonely” are.
Being alone means you have the freedom to do whatever you choose. You have the opportunity to learn how to feel complete without the presence of another person, and that is so important.
2. You’ll learn how to stop waiting for others and do things on your own.
Living alone taught me how to be comfortable doing many things on my own. In the past, whenever I wanted to do something like go check out a new restaurant, or yoga place, go to a concert, etc, I would wait around for other people to go with me.
I would feel weird or uncomfortable doing things or going places alone alone. I was worried people would see me alone and think I was weird or didn’t have friends. And here’s the deep-seeded (totally FALSE) reason for that:
I associated being alone with being lonely, sad, and unwanted.
After living alone, I learned how to have fun by myself. I started to enjoy my own company. I stopped waiting around for others and just started to do whatever the f$%k I wanted. I have dance parties by myself, for myself. I stopped worrying so much about what others were doing, and spent more time caring about what I wanted to be doing. I go to tons of concerts by myself and I don’t set any expectations for myself. A lot of times when I go places alone I do meet people and make friends or connections but if I am having a day where I don’t want to talk to anyone, that’s okay. I grew comfortable being in situations like that alone. But I also got a lot better at meeting/talking to new people when I started going places by myself.
3. You’ll learn how to put yourself first.
By living alone, you will learn how to put yourself first and really do what YOU want to do.
It seems like a simple concept, but when you have roommates, you can end up adjusting your schedule to accommodate them to some extent. Things like using the kitchen, playing loud music, having people over, etc, are usually all things that you need to take your roommate into consideration before doing. When you live alone, all you have to care about is what you want to do.
Your time is completely yours and you can do whatever the hell you want, whenever the hell you want to. Like have dance parties at 1am on a weeknight when you can’t sleep. You can take putting yourself first for little things like this and make them a habit, then translate them into other areas of your life.
This one was kind of difficult for me to get the hang of because I have always been such a people-pleaser. I would spend so much time doing things other people wanted to do. Who cares what I want? I didn’t. Then all of a sudden I had all of this time alone and it was like well sh*t.. What do I want to do? I didn’t realize this before, but I learned that I didn’t know myself very well. I had no idea what my “perfect day” would look like with no one else in it. It led to a lot of incredible self discovery. Finding new passions and interests. Learning so much about myself. Learning how to love myself and not let my self-worth and existence be defined by anyone else except for me.
Ask yourself what your “perfect day” alone looks like and write down as many things as you can think of. What would you do? Where would you go? Take a day to yourself and do as many things on the list as you can. Taking a day like this is a great way for me to recharge or get myself out of a rut.
Bonus points if you can turn your phone off or on airplane mode all day. (I’m still trying to master that one 🙂 )
4. You’ll learn to take responsibility for your actions, maybe even be more productive.
You won’t have anyone to blame for things except yourself. The kitchen is a mess? Guess who’s fault that is?
You’re going to learn to just get sh*t done because there is no one else to do it besides you. I got a lot better at managing my time when I started living alone. I don’t know if it’s because I didn’t have anyone around to distract me, or if I was just forced to because I was working full time and in school full time. Still, I just felt like it was easier for me to fall into a routine, focus and just get shit done, and I’ve carried those habits with me.
I am 100% responsible for how I spend my time, how much work I get done, how clean my apartment is, how much food is in my fridge, etc, there is no one else to blame.
5. You’ll learn how to better control your finances.
This one is kind of a given, but it was so much easier for me to learn how to follow and actually STICK to a budget when I started living on my own.
You’re not splitting anything with anyone, not taking turns buying this or that, so you can actually how much it costs for YOU to live. You don’t have anyone to pick up your slack so you’re forced to get your sh*t together financially.
Sure it’s way cheaper to have roommates and a lot of people tell me I’m basically throwing money away every month by living alone. Let them think that. I like knowing that I am capable of being completely financially independent and I don’t NEED a roommate to afford where I live. It definitely took a long time to get there but I love feeling in control of my finances and knowing I’m capable of supporting myself.
6. Nobody is there to hold you back.
There is no one to hold you back from accomplishing your goals or chasing your dreams.
This one is kind of more about self-discovery before settling down with a significant other and less about just living alone, although my greatest times of self-discovery have been while living alone. Brace yourselves, I have a lot to say about this one.
When you are alone/single, what you want out of life isn’t influenced by another person.
Sometimes we come across people in our lives that affect how we want to spend our time, goals we have, etc. Sometimes good, sometimes bad. It’s up to you if/how you let these people influence you, but it is easier to live for yourself, resist temptation and just focus on your own goals when there’s no one there. It’s probably more common for this person to be a significant other rather than a roommate, but it could be anyone in your life.
When we are in a relationship or very close to someone, it’s normal to think about how our actions/life decisions will affect that person or our relationship with them, and maybe let that influence the choices we make. I think that’s good to do to an extent once you are settled down or in a committed relationship with someone, but what if you don’t really know what you want out of life yet when you start a relationship with someone?
What if then, everything you decide you want out of life is influenced by your relationship with that person?
Does that make them things you really want? How do you know if you haven’t had any time away from them to find out?
For instance, say you have never really wanted kids, but your significant other does. Maybe you’re still trying to figure out everything you want out of life, but you know you want to live in a big city, or near the coast. Over time as you become more invested in your relationship, the idea of kids grows on you and you start “adjusting” your other goals and desires to fit in with that picture, maybe even unknowingly. You start to think you want to live in a house in the suburbs. Or want to stay close to family and not leave your hometown. Get a stable career with good long term security to fit in better with the life you’re building with your partner.
Do you really want any of these things? Or were they influenced by knowing your partner wants kids? Are you forgetting about dreams you had, spending more time with your partner and less time working towards your own goals?
Will you be building your dream life, or helping someone else build theirs?
Get clear about what the important things are and don’t budge. They are different for everyone. But figure out what goals and dreams are most important to you before jumping into a serious relationship, because you will be able to find someone who you won’t have to change a damn thing about your past, present, or future for. Even if you have to wait a little longer to find them.
(Hint: The person forgetting about their own dreams in that scenario above was me.)
Take a look at your goals.What do you want out of life? Do you want kids? What type of career do you want? Where do you want to live? In a house, a big city, small town, another country??
Write it down. Write it alllll down. Just write down as much as you know. If you don’t know everything you want out of your future, that’s fine. What you want today might not even be the same as what you want tomorrow. But it’s really important to have a sense of what YOU want out of life, before meeting someone to share your life with.
7. You will learn that you are capable of way more than you ever imagined.
You CAN make it happen, alone. You don’t need anyone to help you.
At first I was absolutely terrified to live alone and be alone for so many reasons and look what happened? I conquered my fear and grew from it. I have accomplished so much more than I ever even dreamed I would. By myself.
You have so much more power than you think and I hope you constantly discover more and more of it. Go make shit happen babe. <3
This was so well written, and exactly what I needed to read – thank you for writing this!!
This was so beautiful and helpful to read