In the entirety of my 23 years on this planet, I’ve always lived with somebody. Most of it has been family, and more recently, roommates. It’s enjoyable to be near people, even when they make me want to yank my hair out, or when we sullenly brood over who’s turn it is to do the dishes. It’s an underrated privilege to have people in close proximity — I’m sure we can all relate to that this year. This month marks the first time I’m living alone. It’s thus far been an eye-opening process, and I’d like to share my experiences in the past two weeks, six stages that you may go through upon moving out by yourself.
Excitement always bubbles to the surface when we experience something positive, radiant and new. Imagine a life without having to tiptoe as to not wake up your roommate, to be free of the constant nagging of family and to be able to blast your music to your heart’s content. Imagine going grocery shopping and not having to worry about someone using up all of your butter or swiping one of your kombucha bottles. Space under your own governance is pretty exciting, isn’t it?
Hesitance starts to take reign when you begin to feel overwhelmed by the endless decisions and responsibilities falling on your shoulders. How do I cook up a well-rounded meal? How do I afford phone bills, electricity, water and insurance? How do I work this stove, toaster or blender? When there’s no longer someone reminding you to pay the bills or to eat dinner, the responsibilities pile up and you start feeling overwhelmed.
As euphoria wears off, it’s easy to fall into a spiral of negativity that starts with fear. What do you do when your house is infested with inch-long carpenter ants and other creepy crawlies? What if you forget to lock the door or close your window and someone finds their way in to escape the rain? These are just a few of the fears that might slowly start to wriggle their way into your mind.
As excitement wears off, hesitance leaves and fear wanes, the lack of feeling translates into loneliness. Suddenly, your friends 20 minutes away feel like they’re 2,000 miles away, and everyone you cross paths with during your day is at least 30 years older or 13 years younger than you. All you want is a person or two in your same decade, is that too much to ask for? Where the heck are your friends anyway?
The starry-eyed wonder of living alone has pretty much evaporated by now, but you’re OK with it. Loading the dishwasher is a lot less exciting because it was never really exciting to begin with; you just lost your head for a bit with your newfound freedom. Cooking becomes a lot more work than fun because of all the cleaning up involved afterward. You settle for a compromise and become a raw vegan. As you sink into some semblance of a routine, and you’ve seen too many giant ants to care, you can accept that living alone is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to grow and learn more about yourself.
Contentment simmers in when you realize bumps in the road are inevitable but a blessing in disguise. Well, the more minor ones, at least, in retrospect. As many have said in the past, living alone doesn’t have to be lonely. Take this time to find your niche, your passions and what you really want to do right here, right now. Or simply take the opportunity to wake up with a smile on your face and gentle sunlight brushing against your cheek, thanking the world for all it has given you — because believe it or not, you’re very lucky.
For you who are graduating and nearing the end of your college life, this is a time for many firsts. One of the many firsts is moving out — whether out of your dorm or the apartment you’ve been sharing with a circle of close friends. Ultimately, there may come a time when you have to live all alone, and for those of us without another body within the four walls and roof surrounding us, the thought that everyone else has a nice housemate can be a little lonely. Hopefully, it helps to know that we all go through the same things and that with a little acceptance, everything will turn out just perfectly alright.