I think something people and pop culture neglect to tell you about ‘adulthood’ are that at some point you will be living entirely alone, without housemates or uni work as a distraction. I’ve never really seen an honest TV programme about living alone and being in your 20s – it’s usually depicts them living alone, with a group of fabulous friends, where money is no real worry and socialising is aplenty.
I’ve recently moved to a city I didn’t know in pursuit of a job I didn’t want, and for the first time in my life, I live entirely alone, I support myself and come home to an empty house on most nights. You know, when I went to uni, I thought that was IT, I thought my growing was done, I’d flown the nest and I never really saw the errors in that until I actually flew the nest outside of education purposes. I always considered myself to be someone who was very good at being alone, and for the most part, I am. I love shopping alone, I love cooking alone and I do enjoy being alone. But living alone brings around this pure unadulterated sense of loneliness that wouldn’t make great television.
In my final year of university, I lived with one other person and I worked a pretty much full time job in a local hotel. My lifestyle versus her lifestyle led us to seldom see one another, and for the most part, I spent the hours I was in the house, alone. There is a certain comfort there that I took advantage of – the comfort of being entirely alone in a house, but knowing you won’t be alone indefinitely. Spending my days with just me was also remedied by the fact; I had friends outside of the house, a job and a purpose. At the moment, I have no friends in the city – I see my boyfriend very often and I am endlessly grateful for the time he spends with me – at the moment I’m trying to find a job I like, in an industry I could actually bare to be in for the long-term.
It’s a reality they strategically don’t inform you of, on TV, in songs and even in school that living alone forces you to realise things about yourself you don’t like. For instance, I never believed myself to be so paranoid about invaders – sure I’m as cautious as the next person about locking my doors and windows but I won’t even order takeaway past daylight hours unless my boyfriend’s there to open the door. I also find myself scrabbling to lock the front door in sheer panic immediately after entering my home, in case there was a crafty axe murderer with particularly agile athletic ability, capable of running across my well lit, gravelled court yard and down the stairs to the front door without arousing any suspicion in the 2.5 seconds it takes me to get in and shut the door. I’m also incredibly suspicious of ALL my neighbours – I’m fairly certain the neighbour to my left is East Anglia’s answer to Walter White and women above me walks around with steel capped boots, trying to make as much noise as humanly possible.
I’ve also realised how messy I am. I won’t pretend I didn’t already know I was messy, but when you live with your family or other people you don’t quite realise HOW much mess is yours, until the only mess is your mess. Seriously, I own about 5 million coats, and they’re all draped over my dining room chairs, I leave empty coffee mugs scattered throughout the house and extraordinarily, I have never emptied the kitchen bin (don’t worry, my boyfriend empties it, I don’t live in some sort of Hoarders scenario).
Living alone is really difficult, I value silence and solitude, but the silence and solitude I have experienced since moving has been the worst I’ve ever had and no amount of texting, face time or Netflix binges can cover up for the fact I live in a strange city, with no secure future or financial plans, with a blocked shower drain, a bathroom door that locks itself and a drug lord of a neighbour.