What I learnt after living alone for 3 years
Living alone comes with some strong positives but challenges too
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It’s now been close to 5 years since I moved abroad to France from India, and of that time I’ve spent only 1 year living with one or more roommates/flatmates. This means I’ve spent 3+ years living completely alone, by myself, managing everything on my own at home.
In this issue, I’ll break down my reflections on what I’ve learnt during this time.
Lessons from Living Alone
I’ve learnt to be fiercely independent
When you’re living alone, you’re the captain of your own ship. When you’re hitting rough waters, whether that’s logistically with home issues, or emotionally with personal issues, there’s no one immediately there to support you.
Mould on the ceiling? Gotta fix it yourself. Shower drain clogged? Gotta fix it yourself. Cleaning the kitchen or the toilet? Gotta clean it yourself. Issues with the landlord? Gotta deal with it yourself.
You get the point. But also —
Want to get nicer furniture? Buy it yourself. But also choose it yourself. And build it yourself. Want to get nicer groceries? Same thing. Want to choose whacky decor? No one can tell you otherwise.
But again, also —
Broke up with your girlfriend? Gotta get through it yourself. Fought with your mom? Gotta get through it yourself. Issues at the job? Gotta get through it yourself.
Years of getting through things yourself, building things yourself, dealing with things yourself — you become a fiercely, hyper-independent person. You feel like you can deal with anything… yourself.
I’ve become more intentional about hanging out with friends
When you live alone, there’s no default person to hang out with. You either hang out with yourself, or you make an intentional effort to spend time with people.
It’s on you to make sure you reach out to friends, family, make lunch plans, going out plans, or weekend plans. There’s no default.
If you don’t, it’s too easy to live like a hermit and not spend time with anyone at all.
But the flip side is that you choose exactly how you spend your time. It’s much easier to focus on things and to focus on yourself.
That’s one reason I love living alone — I love the autonomy of how I spend my time. I don’t think I could produce as much work as I do right now if I didn’t live alone.
But… living with aligned people is still really great, if not better
In 2021, I spent a good 7 months living with my ex-classmate Cody, and it was a wonderful arrangement — we would hang out when we felt like, we would be on our own when we felt like, there were no obligations and no compromises. We were completely independent but still lived together.
Best part? It didn’t bother him that I played guitar or loud music because he would always have his AirPods Pros in with noise-cancellation. And best best part? He himself was a quiet, calm person who didn’t make much noise himself. Perfect arrangement.
We did a lot of fun things together, it was really great. And the fun-est of the things we did were spontaneous plans, which are harder when you live away from each other.
Another time was in college in Manipal, when I lived with my college best friend Shubham. We lived in a 2 bedroom apartment, we had a lot of fun, gave each other a lot of emotional support, but we were also quite independent. We pushed each other to do better for ourselves.
But my realisation was that it’s rare to find such an arrangement. It doesn’t come across very often.
So for me the preference is:
living with aligned people > living alone > living with average flatmates
It’s much easier than it looks like
A lot of people don’t even consider the option of living alone because they’re too scared they’ll be lonely or bored.
I just think it’s a matter of getting used to it, embracing the nice aspects of it, and understanding + finding solutions to your needs.
Ideal solution perhaps is to live alone but close to good friends. That’s what it felt like in college at HEC. That way you can get your time and independence, but still spend time with people more easily and spontaneously.
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