My whole life I lived in a house full of people. I am one of four siblings so there was always someone around the house.
On my gap year I shared a house with eight other people, and even shared a room so there was never alone time there!
And then at uni I lived in halls, and then spent my second year in a flat share with 4 others.
It wasn’t until third year that I finally experienced living alone.
At first it was terrifying. I was suddenly in a flat all on my own with nobody else around. It took a good few weeks to adjust to sleeping in total silence. waking up and having breakfast alone, no fighting over the shower or who’s turn it was to do the dishes.
Now, I am in my fifth year of living alone, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Over the past five years I have learnt so much about myself that I don’t think I would have ever have known had I kept living with people.
1. Becoming comfortable in my own company.
When you grow up around so many people, there is always someone to hang out with. As a child I always had someone to play with, and after moving out of my family home there was always someone else around to watch tv with or make dinner with. Now, I have to entertain myself. When I am at home now there is nobody else around to do those things with. I had to get used to spending time with myself. I think it is important to enjoy your own company. I figured out how to be alone without feeling lonely, and found things to keep my mind and body productive and motivated. Now I know that I don’t need to depend on other people for my own happiness, they just add to the joy I have found within myself.
2. Figuring out what I want from life.
Being alone really gives you space to do some real thinking. There isn’t the same level of distraction on your own as when you are surrounded by people all the time so you have a bit of breathing space to figure everything out. I think you need that space to really figure out what you want from life. I was quite happy plodding along until I was forced out into the world on my own. I had only myself to rely on so I had the chance to figure out where my happiness came from. Whether that comes from relationships, jobs, friendships or family, it is time to change what is bad and work on the good stuff. I was so focused on the other people in my life that I didn’t realise just how unhappy I was until I was on my own. I have come to realise that I want my own happiness in life, because without being happy in myself, I can’t be happy with other people. So, I went on the job hunt, found a hobby I am passionate about, and worked on my health & wellbeing. Without that freedom, I think I would still be stuck in a rut, unsure of myself and my future.
3. Realising my own strength.
Without other people to rely on, I had to quickly toughen up. It is easy when you are surrounded by people to lean on other through the tough stuff. But, when you have to go back to an empty house you have to find that inner strength to stop you tumbling to rock bottom. I am by no means immune to it now, but I have realised that I am a lot stronger than I thought I was. I still have down days, but I have found that inner strength to be able to pull myself out of it all quicker and I can take more on my shoulders now than ever before.
4. Learning to ask for help.
I have always been pretty stubborn and have always wanted to be able to do things for myself. I would also rather struggle through than admit defeat. But living alone has meant I have had to figure out how to do a lot of things on my own, and I have come to realise I just can’t do everything. On a superficial level that is all about doing the practical stuff, like putting up shelves or finding the right light bulbs. All that sort of stuff I have had help with, but now it is up to me or I’d just be sitting at home in the dark with my books piled up on the floor! But it also means I’ve had to ask for help when I need a shoulder to cry on or just someone to talk to. Living alone you can end up in your own bubble and it can be hard to find a way back out of it. I have had to force myself to seek out help when I need it, even it is just going out for a coffee.
5. Making time for friends and family.
It is easy to take advantage of your friends and family when you live with them, but when you are on your own you have to make time to keep those relationships going. I think it would be quite easy to retreat into yourself and become lonely when you live on your own, so you really have to put effort into seeing other people. I definitely think I have put more effort into all my relationships now that I am on my own. I make sure to check in with my family and try and see friends as much as I can when I am not working. I actually spend more time now with my family than I did when I lived with them, and I 100% appreciate them more than I think I ever have!
Living alone has made such a drastic change on my life for the better. I am a much stronger person and more independent than I have ever been. I think it is important for everyone to experience living alone. There is so much to learn about yourself that you can only really learn when you have some real time in your own company.