Living alone is a strange experience. On the one hand, there is no one around to judge you for eating granola at every meal. On the other hand, you often end up eating granola for every meal. Snore.
Having lived with at least one housemate for my entire adult life, when I started my new job in a new city last year, I was ready to venture out alone. So I moved in to my one-bedroom shoe box in the middle of the city. The one thing that no one told me about living on my own was that it would prove to me that everything that my mother told me (that annoyed me half to death) would turn out to be true:
- It is easier to tidy up as you go along;
- Cream cleaner is the answer to everything (I shit you not, next time your left over spag bol splashes onto your white walls on its journey into the bin, dilute a bit of cream cleaner and give it a try. You’re welcome.);
- Fabric softener is an important step in cleaning your clothes;
- Mopping is actually necessary, simply hoovering does not do the trick;
- You will eventually find yourself wiping down the skirting boards.
It’s hard at first because they don’t teach you how to compare electricity providers, call the water board or argue with the council tax department when you’re at school. Nor are there classes on finding the right replacement light bulb in Wilkos, defrosting your freezer or cleaning your toaster (yes, you actually have to clean the toaster, not just around it- unless you enjoy a light firey smell every time you want toast). They also don’t tell you that it takes at least two weeks to have your wifi installed and when the engineer in finally available, all they do is show up and press a button. It will be the longest two weeks of your life and you will watch a lot of NCIS re runs. Be prepared.
If you are an introvert like me then living alone is actually a relief. Don’t get me wrong, I love people. I just have a limit. If I have been at work all day and most of that day involves meetings and actually conversing on a human level, then by Thursday, the last thing I want is to have to make small talk with my flatmates idiot boyfriend over questionable fajitas. Living alone gives me the opportunity to be inside my own head as much as I want to without having to be rude or pretend I didn’t hear anyone come home ‘because I had headphones in’.
It also means I can keep on top of my at home workout plan (and by home workout plan, I absolutely mean watching half of a Joe Wicks HIIT workout, exhausting myself, crying a little and then watching the rest whilst sat on the sofa wrapped in a blanket and eating an entire pack of hobnobs). I also can experiment with my new love of baking, fail spectacularly at baking and then settle on making banana bread because this is the only thing I can make and the only thing anyone ever really needs. And there is no one around to judge either of these things. Plus I can be naked whenever and leave the bathroom door open when I have a shower. It’s the small things.
Living alone though, can be isolating. Especially if, like me, you’re in the midst of an existential crisis and already questioning everything going on in your life. So if you do live alone, make sure that you don’t fall into the trap of closing yourself off and becoming more introverted than before, particularly if you are somewhere new and unfamiliar. Make an effort to go out to see friends or have dinner with them. Invite people round for drinks or to watch Game of Thrones. Join a running club or a yoga class that means you have some form of human interaction outside of work. And then, once you have had your fill of company, go on home to your palace of solitude and bask in the need to not speak to anyone. Except of course, your houseplant called Mildred.