Lessons Learned from Living On My Own
“Your 20’s are your ‘selfish’ years. It’s a decade to immerse yourself in every single thing possible. Be selfish with your time, and all the aspects of you. Tinker with shit, travel, explore, love a lot, love a little, and never touch the ground.”
Exactly one year ago, I moved out of a 3-bedroom apartment that I lived in with my best girlfriends in Philadelphia to move to Charlotte for a 6-month job placement in one of my company’s regional offices. In February, they transferred me to Denver for another 6-month placement. I knew full well what I was getting myself into prior to my first move, but what I didn’t know was how much I would learn about myself in this year of traveling and living alone.
Two years ago, my college self would have never expected to be living on my own. I always lived with girlfriends and coming from a big family, I’ve always been surrounded by people 24/7. Living alone was completely new for me, but looking back on the past year, I wouldn’t change it one bit.
Some things I learned from living alone…
I became more self-aware. I found out what I like to do for fun, what my habits are, (both good and bad!), and what I do when no one else is looking.
For me, these were little things, like realizing how much I love lounging around in my robe after a shower, and how playing my favorite Spotify playlist when I wake up in the morning is the best way to start my day, and how I have zero self-control when it comes to eating popcorn. When no one else is looking I can eat nearly an entire bag of Angie’s Boom Chicka Pop Sweet & Salty popcorn. #guilty
I became independent and self-confident.
This goes back to one of my recent posts about why I love travelling alone (click here to read!) The moment I knew I had become truly independent was when I realized I didn’t have to wait for other people to make things happen. Independence begins at the moment you let go of the need and dependence on others for personal happiness. If you want to do something, do it! Book that trip. Try out that restaurant. Do a Zumba class for the first time. Don’t wait for someone else.
I learned the importance of self-care.
I’ve never been a big gym-goer and I’ve pretty much despised working out… until I lived alone. Living alone gave me the opportunity to try out different exercise programs – and when I say try out, I mean playing Youtube videos on my TV and setting up a mirror in my living room and attempt to do the exercises. This was honestly the best thing that I’ve ever done! Having total alone time to rewind the video as many times as I wanted until I got my form right, etc. really helped me find a new appreciation for my body. From this, I was able to develop a workout routine that I strive to do at least once a day, changing it up each day to focus on arms, legs, etc. I’m still not a gym-goer but I value taking the time to exercise and stretch to care for my body at least once a day.
I learned how to balance social plans with “me-time”.
I have discovered the beauty of saying “no, thank you” without overthinking my decision. When you live alone, you call all the shots! No roommates guilting you to go out or the need to come up with a good excuse for why you can’t go. Declining an invitation is easy peasy! I can’t think of how many times I overbooked myself when I was living in Philly last year… happy hours, birthday dinners, trivia nights, etc. I feel like I was always saying yes, and forgetting that me-time is important, too. Of course, going straight home after work, throwing on PJs and painting my nails doesn’t sound like a very glamorous Friday night, but sometimes it’s needed to re-charge. I’m thankful that I’ve learned to balance personal time with social time – and not just for PJ and nails night, but for more important things, like making a healthy dinner as opposed to take out, working out, or catching up on SLEEP!
This past year has been one hell of a ride – moving, meeting new people, adjusting to time differences, staying in touch with friends & family back home, etc. – but I wouldn’t change any of it. Of course, this post makes it seem like living alone is all rainbows and butterflies, but let’s face it, there definitely is a stigma out there about being alone.
Oftentimes, people are scared to detach from others and be comfortable in their own skin. Being alone can be super awkward and weird at times. For example, tonight was my last night in Denver and I wanted to treat myself to dinner at a sushi place that I’ve been dying to try. (They legit import their fish every day from Tokyo!) All was fine and dandy until the waitress brought two waters to the table and when I corrected her that it was just me, she gave me a confused look and still gave me two menus "just in case." In those moments, it’s not always the easiest to be like, “Yep, here I am, table for one,” but at the end of the day, you have to think, why is that so weird?! I’m enjoying my own company. There’s nothing wrong with that.
A year ago I probably would have internalized her reaction and questioned myself. Honestly, I might have just gotten up and left out of awkwardness or gotten the sushi to go… but tonight, I stayed because over this past year I’ve become independent and self-confident, and despite the fact that I will have roommates again once I move back to Philly, this new woman I have become and the lessons that I’ve learned in the past year aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Have you ever lived on your own? Or have you recently learned something about yourself, in the past month or year? I'd love to hear about it in the comments!
If you liked this post, you might like reading about my solo trip to Charleston. Click here to read.