All of my life I was welcomed by familiar faces whether it be a mother or roommate once I returned home from school. Though I enjoyed living with my family and being my roommate’s roommate, I decided to take a leap and live on my own for the first time. I had always dreamt of living by myself and of being the shepherd of my decisions. So, after my first year of college I moved into my own place. My friends and family figured I was either crazy or brave. To this day every time my grandmother phones me or sees me during breaks, she asks why I’m not scared of living by myself. I tell her that it’s just living alone and I could be doing braver things. It’s been six months now, but to be honest with you, the only reason why I’m still kicking and haven’t burned my place down is because of my philosophy: You just gotta wing it. And my, have I winged the heck out of this whole living alone thing.
I’ve asked people why they would rather live with roommates, despite the horror stories, and they always tell me they like having someone to come home to. Some even have told me they’d go mad if they didn’t. Though I have my days where I agree with these people and miss having someone to come home to, I enjoy having my own place that houses the things that make me, me and the space to do whatever I want. So here is my college-student-who-lives-alone’s manifesto on what I’ve found charming and liberating about this experience. Maybe you’ll consider living by yourself in college too, or if you already live alone, maybe you’ll be able to relate to this on personal level.
Rocking out to your jams without a care in the world. When I lived with a roommate I felt a little self-conscious singing in our room. I always feared being caught. Now that I live alone I can blast all the Father John Misty, Foxygen, and Blondie I wish. Only bothering my plants with my noise.
Decorating. Your space is your space. Adorn your walls with the photographs and art that give you comfort. Hang banners and streamers if you want to. Want to put the rug in your room that you found out on the street? GO FOR IT. Every knick knack and book on the shelf is a part of you. There’s something independent and freeing about choosing what you want in your space.
Being able to take a breather. After a day full of lecturing and interacting with numerous people and seeing numerous faces, it’s nice to come home to a place that’s only yours. I can’t tell you how many times I have been overwhelmed and coming home to the sound of silence has given me the space I needed. Sometimes having roommates robs you from the serenity of a good sleep and sometimes if you’re unlucky, you can’t take that breather you need because of various moods and attitudes. Everybody is entitled to have their bad days, but it can become toxic when you always face some kind of drama. Having a place to breathe and not dealing with problems has helped me a whole lot in school and has made me a happier person. I appreciate conversations and people more because of it.
Compromising. Compromising is great, but when you live alone there is no need for it. Your bathroom is yours, your time is yours, and your place is yours. There is no need for scheduling time for friends or shower times, so they don’t conflict with your roommates. You can have your friends over when you want, or wake up late and take an unplanned shower when you wish without ruining your roommate’s routine.
Being accountable. You’re accountable for picking up groceries, picking up the mail, locking doors and not losing keys, cooking for yourself, and taking care of yourself and your health. Living alone is a huge responsibility, but because of it I have attended to my place, myself, and my grades more than ever. If something goes south it’s because of me, and I have to accept it. If I eat junk food I can’t blame my surroundings on my dietary decisions. If I see a dirty dish, it’s all me! A downside of your mess being your mess though is that, well, your mess is your mess. You come to realize what a swine you are and can’t be mad at anyone but yourself.
When I first moved in, I placed my collection of books in their place, gave my plants a windowsill home, organized my pens, fluffled my pillows, and placed flowers in a vase. My new home had my old home’s things, but I just couldn’t get into the groove of living alone for the first few days. School began and when I got back from school I began to cry. Not because I missed my family or because of the new semester, but because I had forgotten to put water in the fridge and all I had was warm sparkling water. I called up my friend in a panic and she promised me I would soon get the hang of things. She was right, I have gotten the hang of things but to this day she always reminds me to put water in the fridge unless I want to revisit August’s tragedy. Not everyday is peachy. Some days I want to see a face, but then I realize I can call up a friend. There’s some days when I just sit on my bed and look at the chair covered in clothes and want to scream. There are days when I am too used to being alone and lounge around too much. But one thing is for sure, I wouldn’t trade the experience of living alone for anything.