I have always wanted to live alone. Not forever, just for a year or two so that I could know once and for all what it’s like, or better yet, what I’m like when left to my own devices.
Before living alone, I had lived with about 20 different roommates over the course of five different apartments. I learned a lot from that time, like how to clean as a form of apology, how to watch Sex and the City as a form of bonding, and how to use a Facebook group to hash out who stole who’s ham in the night. Finally, a raise drove me to make the leap - to get a subleaser and finally live alone.
It’s been almost two years now and I’m preparing for my boyfriend to move in. Reflecting back on living alone, I feel a lot like the guy who quit the Internet for a year and realized his bad habits were not the Internet’s fault. But in my case, I realized that my good habits did not necessarily bloom in solitude.
For example, I thought that when I lived alone I would start exercising all the time. While I do exercise a lot more (due to having more than 10 square feet to call my own), I did not anticipate how living alone would affect my snacking habits. It turns out that worrying about running into your roommate in the kitchen and having to make small talk is a great dieting strategy. When it’s just me, I can sink into any strange eating habits I might develop - no shame!
The same goes for any bad habit. When no one is there to watch you, you can insert bad habits into any time of the day. Yes I will enjoy a beer at lunch on Saturday. And another!
I also thought that I would become a lot more productive without the hustle and bustle of roommates. I’ve actually found that I’m more productive when my boyfriend comes over because we sit and read together instead of me just watching Netflix. When left to my own devices, Netflix has a way of saying, “Watch me!” and I have a way of saying, “Okay!” Sometimes I feel like the characters in shows I’m watching are my friends, and I miss them when I’m not watching them.
That goes back to the other weird thing about living alone - the loneliness. This manifests in many ways. The Netflix way, of course, but also in things like personifying your plants or an intense desire to adopt a pet.
The being alone factor also leads to a certain amount of paranoia. My sister said when she lived alone she left tape on her door to make sure no one had been inside. I don’t do that - but I do check my closets sometimes when I get home.
But living alone hasn’t been all … me being dysfunctionally weird. I’ve also picked up some good habits. My old roommates will be glad to know that I finally learned how to clean, and now Swiffer mop at least weekly. Being the only person accountable for a mess really motivates you to clean it. I’ve also learned how to kill bugs after much sitting alone contemplating whether or not reincarnation exists, and deciding that the disgusting centipede may be reincarnated as a cute rabbit. Smack!
Provided my relationship continues to be smooth sailing, I will probably never live alone again. My stuff will forever be mixed with my boyfriend’s stuff, and someone will be there to harp on me for “buying too many body products.”
But being around other people makes us better, even if it’s by subtly preventing us from being our more slacker-y, snacky selves. And I’m looking forward to that. (And also to have someone else who can kill bugs.)