On Living Alone

Posted on Thursday, August 29, 2013

I never really imagined that I'd enjoy living alone.  During my years at Villanova, having a roommate was one of the most enjoyable parts of The College Experience for me - someone to procrastinate with, to eat late night mac n cheese with, to comiserate with after a late night out.  
Particularly during senior year, the year before leaving for France, living with my roommates was something that I couldn't imagine life without. Our apartment was a constant stream of friends coming in and out, dinners or drinks on the rooftop porch, impromptu sleepovers on the big orange couch... there was never a dull moment, and alone time was rare - something that I loved.

Bryn Mawr - I also had real roommates, not just cardboard ones.
So when I decided to move here, and to live alone, it was a big change.  And while picking my outfits without a second and third opinion took some getting used to (just kidding, kind of), the solitude is something that I've grown to value about my first year abroad.  Moving abroad was never the scary part of my decision, it was moving abroad alone that made me nervous.  Now though, twelve months later (okay, eleven months and three weeks - but who's counting??), I'm preparing to move into a shared apartment and to leave my little shoebox sized room behind.  It's a big change, and like any big change it's cause for a bit of reflection and introspection.

I never thought I'd say it, but I'll miss living by myself.  There are so many positive aspects to life toute seule, and I think I've enjoyed almost all of them.   When there are no roommates, you can eat dinner at whatever time you want - and you can eat whatever you want.  There are no kitchen collisions, there's no rush to do the dishes, there's no pressure.  You're entitled to a solo glasses of wine or two with as much stinky cheese as you like, without so much as an unsolicited sideways glance.  You can get into your pajamas right after work on weekdays, and you can stay in them all day on weekends if you feel like it.  You can go to bed at eight pm if you're tired, or you can come home at six in the morning without worrying about waking anyone up - because sometimes the last métro home is the best idea.

(You will also likely call into question your individual hummus intake)
You learn to develop a sense of independence when you live alone that I can't imagine can be done while living with others. I know it might sound silly, but for most of my life I was too shy to imagine eating a meal or getting a drink alone.  Maybe it was immaturity, or fear, or pride, but I just couldn't see myself ever going in somewhere all by myself.  Now, though, I'm all about it.  If I feel like I want to see a movie, I go and see one.  I sit alone, I buy some snacks for one, and I enjoy every minute of it.  If I feel like I want a nice meal out or (more budget friendly-ly) a glass of wine on my way home from work, I seat myself on the nearest terrasse and get ready for some good people watching.  It's probably one of my favorite things to do, these days.  Maybe I was the last to realize, but hanging out with yourself can really be the best company of all, sometimes.

It's inevitable that when you live with somebody, you learn a lot about them.  And, not too get too reflective or too "deep," but it's fair to say I've learned a lot about myself during the past year, too.  Though there are lots of great perks, it hasn't always easy to live alone.  Beyond confirming my suspicions that I'll never be a neat person, there have certainly been moments during my time in the little apartment that I've made a tough realization about myself, or needed a shoulder to cry on, or my solo dinner or drink felt just a bit tragic.  And while Skype is great, and I know I've got a big great group of people I could call, curing loneliness in a big foreign city often requires a bit more than a blurry video chat.

But c'est la vie, I've survived the tearful moments of loneliness just as well as the triumphant moments, and now I'm on the other side of it all.  My new apartment feels like an upgrade all around, and I'll be sure to post photos on my Instagram and here, once I'm all set up.
I'm a bit nervous, but mostly I feel excited and enthusiastic and ready to turn a page.  This past year has been a whirlwind and has gone by so quickly, but I'm ready for the next and hopeful that it will only get better from here.  The little apartment will always be the first place I called home in Paris and I'm unlikely to forget that. For the remaining days in my first little home, I'm going to enjoy all the good things that living alone can offer - like listening to embarrassing music at top volume and singing along with reckless abandon.

Hope the neighbors won't mind. xo

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