My mother has always told me one of her biggest regrets in life is never living alone. Having married my father when she was just 22, she never really had the chance to. She doesn’t regret marrying my father, of course! (30 years and still going strong!) She simply feels she missed out on the opportunity. My mom and I are a lot alike, so I’ve always taken that advice close to heart.
Plot twist, I decide to attend college in Manhattan! As I’m sure you can imagine, the price of living in New York City is outrageous, even with roommates. Though I was confident that by the time I was, you know, 23, I’d be making plenty of money and could live alone then. Yeah, no.
I got really lucky in college because I was randomly placed with a great roommate my first year of school. She and I became best friends that year, and have lived together every year since then, believe it or not! (I love you, Ariana!). So, while I’ve been extremely lucky to never have the roommate nightmares you hear about in New York, I’ve also never been able to justify paying to live alone when I have such a good set up. Until now.
Just over a month ago, I quit my job in Manhattan to travel. I sublet my room in my apartment, packed a few belongings and packed the rest away, and moved to Southeast Asia to volunteer. The price of living here is a small fraction of what it costs to live in New York. Of course, while that’s the case because of poverty (not a happy thing), I knew I wanted to take advantage of this time to live alone. This situation is way different than living in New York would’ve been, because I didn’t know anyone when moving here. So, I had the risk of getting pretty lonely. Here’s what I’ve learned:
I’m not lonely.
I suppose this will vary depending on personality type, but I have definitely not felt lonely living alone. If I feel like I need human interaction, then I go out! I’ve found that I like going out alone, too. It gives you more opportunity to talk to people and meet new friends. And if you’re out and don’t like the situation you’re in or are not having fun, you can simply leave! I do note that it may be easier to make friends out and about while backpacking than in most places, but I think you can still go out if you want to be social! You don’t need to go out with others to go out.
I’m less responsible than I thought.
I’ve always thought of myself as independent, and still do, but living alone has shown me I still have some growing up to do. But that’s ok! These are great lessons to learn. I still need a little bit of improvement in not losing my keys and making sure I have all my necessities stocked. Living with my best friend for years, I was never worried about getting locked out because I was usually with her anyway, or running out of medicine because she’d always take care of me if I was sick. (glistening tear runs down cheek from missing her.) I’m still learning, though, and am glad I’m learning these lessons about myself now. All I can do is try to improve!
I’m still sort of afraid of the Boogeyman.
This is really embarrassing, but I’m realizing I still sometimes get scared at night! I can’t believe it. I’m trying to justify this by saying maybe I’m just a little more afraid because I’m in a foreign country alone, but really I think I’m a bit of a wimp still. This Buzzfeed article about Urban Legends did not help. But, hey! Maybe this isn’t such a terrible thing, either. I don’t want the little kid within me to totally be gone quite yet.
I’m a clean freak.
I guess I sort of always knew this, but sort of thought maybe I was just obsessively clean with roommates because it wasn’t just my space. Wrong-o. I’m sort of even more of a clean freak than I was living with roommates, and that’s a hard trait in Southeast Asia (bugs, humidity, bugs, and all). The lesson I’ve learned here is that I feel bad for whoever marries me :).
I’ve gotten to know myself better
This has been an unexpected, wonderful part of living alone! I had never thought about how much closer I’d get with myself living alone. It’s a simple but incredible feeling to go to bed each night knowing that pretty much every decision you made that day was for yourself. It wasn’t for anyone else or any other thing. These are the sorts of experiences I had really hoped I’d have while living alone. I know I won’t get to for that long, so I am happy I’ve realized this feeling and can make it a priority to continue once I have roommates again. Of course, compromise is important. But so is being true to yourself. Balancing those two is a lifelong adventure, I think, and I’m happy I have a chance to focus on it right now.
Living alone is a great experience.
My mom was right. Living alone is a great experience. I agree with her in advice that everyone should do it at least once, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to do so. I doubt that I’ll be able to in New York, but I’ll take what I can get! I’m so grateful I was able to quit my job and have this experience. I recommend it to everyone! (Living alone, going abroad, quitting whatever you’re not happy with, the whole 9 yards :)).
Readers, do you live alone? Do you want to? What else am I missing out on?!
If you’re interested in learning exactly how I quit my job to travel (with little savings), sign up below and get access to my travel resource library, including the complete breakdown of how I gave up my corporate job to travel and volunteer throughout Southeast Asia.