Living alone is not some horrific ordeal that you must struggle to “survive” if you find yourself sans roommates at some point in your life. In fact, I’ve discovered that it is often to the contrary. In my opinion, living alone is actually a rewarding opportunity that you should experience.
As I’ve previously mentioned, it’s quite possible that I am predisposed to love living without roommates based on my personality and just who I am as an individual. Therefore, it has always bothered me when I read articles or editorials that put living alone in the categories of clichéd tropes involving sad, single people. They then go on to detail a few benefits, but there’s always a “but.” For example:
Living alone is great because I don’t have roommates to ruin my stuff, BUT I’m so lonely and bored all the time.
Well, if you find yourself lonely and bored all the time, you might need to consider developing a different kind of social life or finding a hobby you enjoy. Odds are that consistent loneliness and boredom are factors of your social life choices, not simply because you live alone. Don’t get me wrong. There ARE a few challenges associated with being the only “responsible adult” in your home. Unfinished dishes, I’m looking at you! However, I choose to think of living alone as an incredible opportunity to become more independent and come to terms with who I am and where I want to take my life.
Make the whole house/apartment yours, not just your room.
When I still lived with my parents, all of the design, paint, and furniture choices were made by them…okay, just my dad…my mother hates making home decorating decisions of any kind. Regardless, my point is that everything I grew up with was not my style, nor my taste. Every other room of the house was painted in shades and shades and shades of beige. I hate beige with a fiery passion I wasn’t even aware I was capable of. Therefore, it should come as no surprise to you, dear reader, that my room was the exact opposite of beige. Red and black to be specific, much to the dismay of my beige-loving parents. I didn’t care if they hated it. I loved it, and that was all that mattered to me at 16.
Much later when I moved out and got roommates, I was fortunate enough to live with ones that had the same preferences as me and a landlord that let us paint. This meant a purple kitchen, a hot pink living room, and a blue bathroom. If this is not your experience, you probably have lived in several apartments filled with white walls and mismatched furniture where the only place that’s “yours” is your room. Living alone can fix that!
For those of you who are moving out on your own for the first time, the sheer number of decisions to make involving what to buy and how to decorate can be somewhat overwhelming. However, this is also a great time to learn about what you actually like and have a preference for. Just remember, most things aren’t permanent. Did you buy a couch you absolutely hate? Sell it on Craigslist. Did you paint your wall a horrific shade of beige? That’s what a little primer and red paint are for! At the end of the day, all that matters is that YOU like it and that your home feels like YOUR home. After all, you don’t have roommates to deal with anymore!
Learn how to fix things by yourself around your house/apartment.
For someone who is as non-handy as I am, DYI crafts and home repairs always seemed like an absolute nightmare. When my mom bought me a tool bag full of purple tools I loved that they were purple, NOT that they were tools. However, over the last few years, I’ve found inspiring independence in that I now know how to efficiently plunge a clogged toilet, hang things on the wall without them falling, and stain plain wooden chairs. Will I ever attempt something really complicated? Probably not, but I love that I can rely on myself to get most of the little stuff around the house done. Thank you, YouTube!
Be as clean or as messy as you want in the “common areas.”
While I was in college, passive-aggressive Post-It notes were a great joy. Who doesn’t love being told by an obnoxious roommate to get your clothes out of the dryer this instant right in the middle of the new Grey’s Anatomy or to wash your dishes the moment you’re finished with them? Well, here is blessing number three of living alone…you can leave the “common areas” of your house/apartment just as clean or as messy as you please. True, you can no longer use the excuse of “oh, well someone else will do it,” because YOU’RE that someone. However, if you want to skip the dishes until tomorrow, you absolutely can! Would you rather have everything in its place at all times? Go for it! No one else is going to mess it up. Life without roommates is better than you can imagine…trust me.
Learn how to cook and enjoy the guaranteed leftovers.
I will be honest with you, I am the worst at cooking. I get bored; it takes too long; I’m just simply not very good at it. My lack of skill and hatred of cooking have nothing to do with living alone, though. In fact, I cook at home a lot more now that I live alone than when I lived roommates. Living with other people just gave me that much more of an excuse to get takeout or go out to eat. Now that I don’t necessarily have that option every night (i.e., I don’t like eating at restaurants alone and ordering takeout for one gets really expensive very quickly), I’ve slowly been learning the art of cooking for one.
I still get frustrated and bored with cooking, but not having anyone around to judge my failures or make comments about the mess has actually helped me gain some confidence in my amateur ability. I’ve learned the tricks of what is good in the freezer (e.g., bags of single serve soup and cupcakes!) and that almost anything is good on top of tortilla chips or in a burrito. And the best part about cooking or even splurging on takeout for one? There’s no one there to eat your leftovers the moment you’re not around to guard it.
Use household chores/errands as an excuse if you don’t want to go to a social gathering OR use your “free from roommates” space to entice friends to come over.
If you are a “people pleaser” and have trouble telling your friends “no” when they invite you out when you don’t actually want to go, living alone is a great excuse! As an introvert, I look forward to going home at night or relaxing on the weekends with no one around. In fact, I need that time alone to recharge in order to make it through the week ahead. The excuse of living alone has been a blessing in disguise for me in this matter. The fact that I alone am responsible for all the housework and errands is a last ditch excuse I can use when I really don’t want to go somewhere, but don’t want to hurt my friends’ feelings.
If instead you are an extrovert and love being around people, living alone is also a benefit when planning social gatherings. Your friends who live with partners or roommates may have a hard time inviting people over because they must work around their partner’s or roommates’ schedules. You, on the other hand, don’t have that obstacle! You can invite people over as often as you please, and no one will be there to tell you otherwise.
Embrace your inner night owl/early bird.
When I was living in California, I had a roommate who worked the night shift. This was both great and incredibly obnoxious at the same time. Because of our opposite schedules, we rarely saw each other, so it was like living alone most of the time. I am also a natural night owl, especially when I don’t have work the next morning. I would rather spend my time staying up half the night and sleeping in, than getting up and going to sleep early. This meant I could go about my nightly activities without worrying about bothering my sleeping roommate. However, it also meant that her return at 7 A.M. followed closely by the sound of the blender was a hostile situation to wake up to. Now that I actually live alone, I can stay up as late as I want and not be woken up at an ungodly hour by the actions of my nonexistent roommates. Of course, this situation also benefits those early birds out there. Your night owl roommates won’t keep you up all night when you have to get up early. You also don’t have to try and be quiet as you go about your morning routine.
Read that book/binge watch that show everyone at work/school has been talking about.
I don’t know about you, but I have fully accepted the new binge watch phenomenon in our society. When I hear about a new amazing show on Netflix or HBO, I can binge watch every episode one weekend without anyone around to interrupt, judge, or spoil me. The same goes for books. Before I started graduate school, I was notorious for using free weekends to lay around my apartment binge reading books. I have been known to finish 2-3 books per weekend if I have no other commitments. This would be incredibly difficult to do with the comings and goings of others to interrupt me.
As I hope I’ve been able to prove, living alone can be a rewarding experience in your 20’s. I’ve become more independent, learned a vast amount about who I want to be, and have eliminated a lot of the stress in my life that was roommate-induced. This type of living style might not be for everyone or an ideal long-term situation for you, however, even just a year might teach you much more than you can imagine. I know it certainly has for me.
I’d love to read your tips on living on your own or life as an INFJ.
Please comment below!