Thursday, July 19, 2012

On Living Alone

In my last post I wrote that one of the things I learned this summer was “30 Things Every Woman Should Have and Should Know by the Time She is 30”.  The book, based on a magazine article written for Glamour, is a quick read (I read it in a couple of hours), but it is packed with thought-provoking pieces of valuable information from all sorts of noteworthy women.  I found the list as a whole very interesting, but there were a few standout points for me.  One of my favorites is number seven on the “Things You Should Know List”: How to live alone, even if you don’t like to. 
I first lived by myself for about a month when I interned for Southern Living in Birmingham.  I’ll admit, at times I was terrified.  But I quickly learned the remedies for my nightly heart attacks.  If I heard a scary noise, I got up and walked around the house, flipping on lights as I went.  I knew this was a much better solution than cowering under the covers and not sleeping a wink.  Never was the scary noise anything actually scary, and I soon learned most things were in my head, my own personal form of paranoia. 
These days it is very rare that I am scared in my sunny little apartment.  Most days I am content here in my own company.  Don’t get me wrong…I am not antisocial.  I love having people over.  But I also love the quiet after a long day of work.  I love that I don’t have to ask for anyone else’s opinion about décor or dishes or air conditioner settings.  In the book “30 Things Every Woman Should Have and Should Know by the Time She is 30” Pamela Redmond Satran writes about living alone:

“When it’s only you within those pink walls, on the peaceful sunny days as well as the fretful nights, you get to know yourself in ways you don’t, you just can’t, in any other situation.  There’s no one else to blame the mess on, to absorb the anxiety, to break the silence.  You’re forced to confront your own weaknesses as well as your strengths, to figure out exactly what you want out of living with a lover or a friend (if you end up wanting that at all), and why being alone may just be perfect.”

I don’t really think I could have put it any better.  Some people graduate college and travel the world trying to “find themselves”.  I just moved into an apartment by myself.  It turns out that’s where I was hiding all along…somewhere in the solitude of those four walls. 
Most people spend the majority of their lives in cohabitation.  We grow up in houses with parents and siblings.  We spend our college years with crazy roommates.  We spend our adult years living with a spouse and raising kids of our own.  For a lot of us, there is only a small window of time to experience “life on your own”.  My advice to you is to seize that time, if only for a brief period.  Life brings so much uncertainty.  The only person we can 100% count on to be there when we wake up in the morning is ourselves.  Don’t you want to know that person as well as you can? Don’t you want to know, when the doors are locked and the curtains drawn and you’re all alone, that you can do it?  And that no bump in the night or creepy-crawler in the corner is going to stop you...

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