If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me “Is it hard to live alone?”, I’d have enough money to pay my rent several times over. Seriously, though — living alone is an eye-opener, especially if you spent the last decade of your life with roommates.
In my case, I graduated from school in Pennsylvania. Soon after, I managed to get a job in Philadelphia since I sent out applications several months ahead. I obviously couldn’t commute, so I decided to move into a small studio apartment within walking distance from the office.
I’m not gonna lie. It wasn’t easy at first. Even though I knew exactly what I signed up for, it didn’t change the fact that living alone — and in a big city — has its challenges. However, I promised I’d follow through my decision to the end, so I have. An added bonus, though, is that I’ve learned several things along the way. Here are four of those life lessons:
1. You Only Appreciate What You Had When It’s Gone
It’s a cliché, but it’s true. If you lived at home during College then this might be a fresh change of scenery for you.
The same goes for your college roommates/friends. You guys aren’t all living together/neighbors anymore. Yes, you can still video chat with them on Skype, but there’s nothing like face-to-face interaction to keep the loneliness away.
2. You Don’t Know What You’re Capable of Until You Try
As Christopher Robin once said: “You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” When the only one you can rely on is yourself, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you pick up necessary skills — like ironing your clothes to make them look nice and presentable or buying what you love without blowing your budget to smithereens.
You’ll probably even learn important communication skills, like how to negotiate your rent in an expensive city like New York. In a way, this is liberating.
3. Being Alone Isn’t a Bad Thing
Whether you’re an extrovert or introvert, you’ll have an innate need to interact with others. So when you spend most of your time by yourself, it’s natural to feel alone.
However, it doesn’t have to be so bad. If you’re an introvert, for instance, quality “alone time” can actually refill your energy tank. Being alone, though, is also a chance to do the things you’ve always wanted — traveling the world, reading all the books you can get your hands on and doing things that would make your thrill-seeking friends blush.
4. You Become Accountable to Yourself
On the other hand, great freedom comes with great responsibility. Yes, you’re earning your own income now. You’re also bearing the weight of bills, peer pressure, investments and other millennial problems on your shoulders. That’s why it’s important to keep in touch with the people you love (and who love you), so your feet stay firmly planted on the ground.
To be honest, I have no scientific study to prove what I’m about to say next, but I’ll say it from experience anyway: Living alone changes you, for better or worse. Whichever it is will be up to you. In any case, I encourage you to try it out for yourself, and see what lessons you pick up while you’re at it.