Picture this: it's a Wednesday evening, and you've just prepared your favorite dinner. You set the table for one, and while the food tastes delicious, the empty chairs across from you make the room feel cavernous.
The silence is your sole companion.
Imagine walking into the kitchen and finding your roommates gathered around the table, sharing stories from their day. Plates clink together, laughter fills the air, and suddenly, your meal is not just about food; it's a feast for the soul, shared with friends.
Living alone has its pros, but I feel that I'm missing out on the college roommate experience. However, there have been several strategies I've implemented in my life to help me get through this challenge.
Loneliness can be a difficult companion, but it's important to remember why I initially sought independence.
The biggest influences on my choice to live alone were my desire for autonomy, self-discovery and the freedom to shape my living space according to my preferences. I was driven by my desire for independence and the ability to set my schedule and make decisions solely for myself.
The first and most apparent challenge is the profound sense of loneliness. In the quiet moments of my apartment, I've often yearned for the laughter and camaraderie that roommates can bring. Another challenging facet of living alone is the heightened sense of responsibility. Every chore, every bill and every task falls squarely on my shoulders. There's no one to share the load or to take over when I'm overwhelmed.
One of the less-considered challenges is the limited social interaction that comes with living alone. While I have a social life outside my apartment, I’ve missed the daily, casual interactions that living with roommates offer. Living alone at the downtown campus has been notably more challenging, as I often feel more separated from the broader ASU community.
As I've navigated the challenges of living alone, I've realized that it's essential to find ways to combat loneliness, create structure in daily life and seek out social interaction beyond the apartment walls.
Furthermore, loneliness is linked to depression and anxiety. Without roommates' shared experiences and emotional support, I realized I might be more at risk of these mental health issues. These realizations helped me see that the solitude I had chosen came with difficulties affecting my physical and mental health.
It made me reevaluate whether the independence I craved was worth these potential downsides. Still, I wasn't sure if I was ready to relinquish the independence and freedom I found in solitude.
There are no conflicts over quiet hours or shared responsibilities, which means that personal priorities can be set without external constraints. It's a lifestyle marked by the liberty to come and go as I please, to prepare meals according to my whims, and to structure my day without the influence of others.
The ideal living arrangement varies from person to person. There's no universally superior choice between living alone or with roommates. Some may cherish the independence of solitary living, while others thrive on the social interactions and shared experiences that roommates offer.
I've come to appreciate that both have their unique advantages and challenges. It's a reminder that life's richness lies in the diversity of experiences and that there is no one-size-fits-all answer when selecting the living situation that best suits an individual.
For those who find themselves in a similar situation, embracing solo living can be a rewarding journey with the right strategies. It's an opportunity to cultivate self-discovery while ensuring loneliness doesn't overshadow the experience.
Here are some practical tips for thriving in solitude that helped me:
Pursue Hobbies and Interests: Solo living provides an excellent opportunity to explore your passions and interests. Dive into hobbies, whether it's playing an instrument, painting or hiking. Engaging in activities you love keeps you occupied and helps you meet like-minded people.
Practice Self-Care: Prioritize self-care to maintain your mental and emotional well-being. Set a routine that includes exercise, meditation, and healthy eating. Focusing on self-care helps you feel your best, making it easier to combat loneliness and stress.
Establish a Comfortable Routine: Structure your daily life with routines that suit your preferences and lifestyle. This not only makes daily living easier but also provides a sense of purpose and order.
Solo living can be a rewarding and transformative experience marked by independence and personal growth. However, it's also perfectly normal to face moments of loneliness.
It's key to actively seek out opportunities for connection, maintain a balance between solitude and social interaction, and make the most of the autonomy that solo living provides.
As I make my way through life, I keep in mind that the beauty of this journey is within my control. The place I call home is a blank canvas, ready for my personal touch. I embrace it, shape it and let it reflect the life I aspire to live, creating a unique space of my own.
Edited by Claire van Doren, Walker Smith, Shane Brennan