For the last 11 years of my adult life I have lived alone. According to recent U.S. Census data, there are approximately 32 million Americans living alone, and 55% of them are women – so I am a part of this growing statistic. Despite how common this has become, there is still a condescending tone to the stories the media portrays of women (like me) living this lifestyle. Think: Being Mary Jane, Olivia Pope, and Carrie Bradshaw.
I mean…I admit that “takeout and chill” is a part of my weekly routine, and I have more shoes than my closet can hold so I keep the rest in my kitchen (in my extra cabinets – not in the oven Carrie Bradshaw style; I do cook sometimes). However aside from that I am not some cliché TV character stereotype, scheming week after week with my girlfriends about how I’m going to get a husband and “start the next chapter of my life.”
Keeping it one hundred, I enjoy living alone and not just because I can decorate however I want or walk around naked whenever I please (although I must admit that is a major plus). It’s because living solo-dolo has forced me to develop a true sense of self awareness and some important life skills I might not have acquired otherwise. I truly believe every woman (and man) should live alone before they even consider walking down the aisle so that you can know yourself before investing in a lifetime with someone else. Here are a few general lessons to be learned from this experience.
You Discover Your Passions
Don’t get me wrong it’s great to spend time with friends and family, but the fact of the matter is they won’t always be available to spend time with you – which means you have to find ways to entertain yourself. I remember when I first started living alone, I struggled with finding ways to occupy my time when no one was available to hang out with. But somewhere along the way I learned that I didn’t have to rely on others to have fun, and in turn I discovered my passions for writing, photography, and singing (however I sound best in the shower so that’s where my performances will stay). These past time activities have also aided me in finding my true calling, and now I have additional ways to supplement my income outside of my day job.
You Learn to Be Yourself
If there’s one person you can’t hide from it’s YOU! Living alone forces you to deal with all sides of yourself – the good, the bad, and the ugly. The great thing about that is, when there’s no one else around to hold you accountable for your mistakes or judge you, you’ll learn a lot about who you really are and start loving you for you. So shout if you want to, cry if you want to, sing out loud to India Arie’s “Private Party” if you want to, it’s your prerogative. Just do you.
The Independent Woman is Born
When you live alone all the burdens of adulting falls on you. There’s no one else to take out the trash or do the dishes. Laundry? That’s all you. These bills? Still all you. Spider in your bedroom? Broken toilet? That Ikea Desk that needs to be built? That’s right girl it’s still ALL YOU! Don’t get me wrong handling all these responsibilities at times can be downright annoying! However, it’s also empowering to know that when push comes to shove I can handle these things by myself. And now when I sing along with Destiny’s Child I mean every word.
You Discover Self-Care
We live in a highly social society, and through our technology we are connected to information 24/7. While there are a lot of benefits to living in the information age, the downside is it makes us feel like we to have to always be “on.” I’m an introvert, so after a full day of stimulation at the office, there’s nothing that I want more than to recharge ALONE. Thankfully my living situation allows me to do just that. It’s also inspired me to develop a daily and weekly self-care routine so that my home is not just a place to lay my head at night, it’s my place of peace.
You Establish Boundaries
Being the Queen of my own castle has shed light on what my core values are and how that affects my one-bedroom palace. The vibes and energy of my household are solely influenced by me, which means I’m very particular about maintaining that. This doesn’t mean that I don’t ever have guests over, it just means that I use some of the same boundaries for inviting guests into my house, as I do for letting others into my life. Home isn’t just where the heart is, it’s my place of refuge and drama doesn’t live here. Catch my drift?
You Identify your “Deal Breakers” for Dating
Taking care of myself has made it really easy for me over the years to identify what I will and will not put up with and therefore making it easier to decide what kind of men I interact with. Dating isn’t a competition or a form of escape from my roommate (like it was in College), I’m looking for someone to continue to build with and merge his empire with mine. Which also means that while I appreciate and respect a man who has established a career and monetary success for himself – I don’t let his money be the primary influence for keeping him around, because I’ve been bringing home the bacon long before he was even thought of.
The bottom line is living alone doesn’t mean that your life will be lonely. Some of the best company you will ever have is your own. As for me, will I always live alone? Only God knows the answer to that question. But I do know that I appreciate the way these years of solitude have shaped me, and I know that I’m a more well-rounded person because of this experience. I think Albert Einstein summed it up best when he said, “Solitude is painful when one is young, but delightful when one is mature.” I couldn’t agree more.
Until next time…
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