The Happiness of Living Alone

It’s funny, I was probably more scared to live alone than anyone else. I lived with my family, and then went straight from that to living with my future spouse. When I eventually got divorced I tried living alone briefly. I very quickly became stressed about finances and responsibilities and felt overwhelmed, and ended up moving in with a roommate.

I’ve always been a late bloomer, and at the age of 30, it still wasn’t the right time for me to live alone yet. I immediately felt a sense of relief after moving in with my new roommate, another recently divorced woman around my age with an adorable menagerie of pets. I could breathe easier knowing I could manage my money and there would be potential help or company there if I needed it. Even though we spent most of our time in our separate bedrooms, there was still something that felt so much more comfortable about it. Maybe part of it was that her cats liked to sleep with me, and she was okay with that. Another part was probably that I was afraid of being alone with the dark, racing thoughts in my brain.

As they say, the one constant in life is change, and eventually the roommate who helped me to heal moved out of state to get remarried. I thought nothing of advertising for a stranger to come live with me and split my bills, something that would absolutely terrify me today. What followed over the next handful of years were a series of roommates and a domestic partner, a couple of whom showed me sometimes living with people wasn’t actually easy—in fact, it could be very hard.

So the last time I wound up alone, I decided not to seek another roommate. Just like feeling you’re stuck in a bad relationship, I knew I was better off being alone than possibly sharing a living space with someone who might depress, stress, or annoy me. At this point I was finally making enough money to afford the place on my own, had my own pets, had decorated most of it myself, and just decided to take full ownership of it.

Shortly after making this decision the pandemic struck, and suddenly I was faced with a lot more “alone” time than I had bargained for. I think I posted online a couple of times about how I felt lonely and overwhelmed. That very same original roommate, who I’ve stayed friends on social media with, messaged me and said I should enjoy my own company. You’re good company, she said.

I felt like that brought everything full circle. It was almost like the person who gave me a security blanket during a time in my life when I truly needed it gave me permission to put it away, and to live with and love my own company. The demons in my head aren’t really going anywhere. But they live beside my ability to make up silly songs and tell myself stories and make myself laugh and talk to my cats. I can really be a lot of fun sometimes, I would tell myself. I can be good company.

One of my friends who lives alone shared these illustrations awhile back, and I love them. If you overlook some of the snarky comments about the size of the house and focus on the essence of them, I feel like they truly capture some of the joys of living alone. I’m sure everyone has particulars they relate to. I love to have private fashion shows with clothes from my closet, spoil my pets (though I’m more of a cat person), make an artistic mess, snack without judgment. There is definitely some empowerment—and also just plain fun—in that freedom.

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