Friday, May 20, 2016

Living Alone is a Transformative Experience

When my parents got married in the 70's it was really abnormal to live alone. The number of Americans living alone has more than tripled since then to 33.2 million. I am truly grateful that I have been one of these lucky to 33.2 million.

The Onion and other popular, irreverent media outlets might poke fun at living alone, exhibit A. There's definitely an adjustment period when you live alone for the first time. I remember moments of desperation after having locked myself out or not having someone to talk to after a really bad day (or a really awesome day). These moments taught me how to be self-reliant and how to "do better" emotionally on my own. 

My time spent living alone during two years graduate school and three years during my first full-time job changed me for the better. It's really hard to pick apart which experiences changed me in which ways over those five years. Was it what I learned in grad seminars? Was it having a community of 900 students and 18 supervisees relying on me for leadership? Or was it the living on my own and learning how to regulate myself through the ups and downs of life? I credit living alone with teaching me how to need less of others and make myself happy/feel worthy.

I'm so glad to have learned that I am in charge of making sure that I feel fulfilled before I moved in with my boyfriend. I am able to tease apart the various reasons that I am unhappy and determine where I need to make adjustments. It's a lot to expect of one person to make you fulfilled in all areas.

Relying on your career to make you happy every day is just as bad as relying on a partner. One bad day at work could make you feel like garbage if the rest of your mental house isn't in order. Living alone taught me about balancing my happiness across a lot of areas and never putting too much pressure on myself in one area of life. This was a difficult lesson to learn and it took an awful long time, but it was so worth it.

What's the biggest lesson you've learned from living alone?

Image via Make it Last

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