As it often goes with singles, I am surrounded by a group of friends which are – for the most part – either in a relationship, or have a family of their own. For years I’ve been proudly holding the title of the “odd one out” and I parade it around with pride, dignity, and grace…(as far as I know). This status obviously keeps me on the sidelines when the baby stories come up, or the long recaps of the “in-laws” dropping by for a short 2 week visit. I patiently sit and nod a lot, chuckle when the others do, sigh collectively when the group does, and with time, I’ve learned to roll my eyes in almost perfect synchronicity with the one telling the story. I admit that sometimes I wish I would have my own story to tell during moments like this, but it often takes me less than a cup of coffee to remind myself that I am very very very happy about living on my own.
…educate them on the concept of “I am alone because I haven’t been able to find someone” versus “I choose to be alone”
It’s safe to say that everyone has a long and complicated story as to why and how they have arrived at their current point in life. Regardless of the whys and hows, from where I am standing, everyone falls into 2 main groups:
- Those that are where they are in life by their own personal choice.
- Those that have not chosen to be where they currently are.
I don’t think I would be going too far out on a limb by saying that those that are where they are because they consciously planned to be there are more likely to be happy and/or at peace with themselves than the other group regardless of their place in life.
- I live alone because it is my choice = 🙂
- It is not my choice to live alone = 🙁
- I have chosen to have a family life = 🙂
- I have a family life that I didn’t choose for = 🙁
I have provided my friends with this simple explanation primarily so they stop trying to fix me up with friends, colleagues, neighbors, etc. but also to educate them on the concept of “choosing to be alone” versus “you are alone because you haven’t been able to find someone”. Two very different things. It’s like tennis balls and lemons, they might look similar at a distance, but if you look closer you can clearly see they are two completely different things. I don’t know who would be the happy or the sad one in this analogy.
My alone status is now attracting attention from a completely different direction
For years, this understanding has carved my place in the group, and we’re all a happy bunch. But in the last year, things have taken a bit of a turn. My alone status is now attracting attention from a completely different direction. The first time it happened, we had all gathered for a birthday, and it was the usual drinks, nice food, and loads of laughs. As I was making my way to administer myself a second serving of bacon wrapped shrimps, I could see out of the corner of my eye, my friend Gabriel getting up right after me. As we got to the table, he said “Would you mind if we have a quick chat in the garden?” After I got my shrimps, I said “Sure”. As we made our way to the garden, it caught my attention that we didn’t stop once we reached the edge of the garden. Gabriel kept on going, and going, until the neighbors fence said we couldn’t. I could hear the drumroll…. “So about all this living on your own stuff…does it really work?” Hmm? Let’s start with, a) Now I get what all the secrecy was about. He didn’t want Miranda, his wife, to hear this conversation, b) Asking that question with that particular wording, was as awkward and vague as if I would ask him “Hey, is it good to have babies?” But back to the garden…as you can imagine, you can know a lot about a subject, but at times like this, you might not be able to round up all your thoughts on the matter in one go. Plus, I really mean it…if you haven’t tried bacon wrapped shrimps, you should just stop reading this and go get some.
About a week or two later, something similar happened with another friend, asking the same type of questions. But the OMG moment came when Miranda herself asked me while we were out bowling with the group, “Do you think that people who live alone have a more stable happiness than those in a relationship?” And again! Something I would have a lot to say on…but….we are bowling woman! I can’t get into this topic in this setting. I promised I would come back to her, and the rest…and to those who might ask in the future. So I made a list of the things I love the most about living alone, and I hope you can find the answers you are looking for somewhere in there. I came up with these nine (in no particular order):
1. When I want peace and silence, I snap my fingers, and it’s there
I know I said these are in no particular order, but as I was making this list, this was the first one that popped in my mind, so it must mean I have it pretty high up there. And rightly so. This is an element of my life that I could not imagine ever letting go of. Peace on demand is a priceless luxury. I’ve grown to count on it, the same way that I depend on certain people. It’s always there, and I turn to it often.
This is my playground, the place where my creativity lives. When stressed, tired, or broken, this is where I come to heal. When the feelings of sadness, disappointment, and failure overwhelm me, this is where I come to understand. Without this element of peace, my life would have a drastically diminished vibration.
2. I can take whatever job I like, and I can quit any job I don’t like
I can only speak for myself of course, but in general, people that live on their own, often have their financial picture pretty clear. You simply have to. Having said that, you know exactly what the consequences would be of you quitting your job before lunch. I know exactly how much I need per month, have a pretty good idea of how long it would take me to get a similar job at another firm, I know how much I have saved and what are the allocations I will have in the next 2 – 3 years. So, how does this play out in practice:
Boss: As you know, the merger has forced us to shuffle a few people. You will be moving into the Finance team to a position that is still being drafted. Don’t worry, I’m sure it will be a great fit with you. In the meantime, you can sit down with the accounts payable team and sort out all the files for the last three years. The auditors will be arriving in two weeks.
Me: I don’t know if you saw, but Nina came in with two boxes of donuts. I will pass by her desk, take two, go back to my desk where I will spend the rest of the afternoon searching for flights to Aruba. I will leave my letter of resignation on the way out. Bye!
No one else is depending on me, so as long as I have my ducks in a row, I have no reason to carry on doing something I don’t want.
On the other side of that, and once I come back from Aruba…(if)…I can go for any job I want. I can stay in the same industry, or explore new avenues, jobs that I’ve always dreamt of, but never got to do (primarily because I was stuck in the job I just quit), perhaps doing some work that doesn’t bring home the bacon….like volunteer or charity work. Whatever it is that I want to do, will not impair or affect someone else. I don’t have to run it by anyone, or require anybody’s moral or commercial approval.
3. My mess is my mess
OK let me clear out some fundamental points here. Fact, I hate cleaning. But, I have always believed that my disdain for these tasks should not bother other people. When I was growing up, with my roommates in college, or in the relationships that I’ve had, I’ve always matched the cleaning activity level of whomever I am sharing a living space with. And yes, if it’s a group of people, then of course I will target the lowest common denominator. Now, if I am by myself, I have a level of mess that I am comfortable with. And the main reason why I am comfortable with it, is because I am not bothering anyone with it. The moment I would get a guest, friend’s staying over, I would bring it up a notch….and re-notch it when they leave. The point being…I love not having the pressure of someone else’s cleaning standards imposed over me.
4. I can sleep and rest as much as I want
A life without good sleep is not a life. I am pretty sure, sleep deprivation is well represented in the most popular torturing handbooks…it’s not pretty. I have no yardstick on how to compare how this affects other people, but from my experience, it’s only a few that can deal elegantly with this. Even one night of bad sleep will make me feel like a zombie throughout the whole day, I crave way more food (which I find relieving because it means I’m not a zombie), coffee has an adverse effect as it makes me even more edgy, solar rays feel like piercing needles…it just sucks. Having the possibility to just crash at any point in time the second I get home…is bliss.
On another subcategory of the same subject, matching sleeping cycles. I have never ever had the same sleeping cycle as my partner. Life has granted me early birds only. If it was for me, the day would start at 10:00am every day. I have never heard an echo on this. This also means that they love going to bed early, when I am way more of a night owl. So yes, even though this is something you can totally work out, I really love having my sleeping rhythm unperturbed.
5. I can eat whatever I want, whenever I want
In no way shape or form am I endorsing becoming a slob, all I am saying is that if you’ve been in a relationship long enough, you will get to a point where food becomes an issue for at least one. Sometimes it’s not even your partner telling you outright to watch what you eat, but it’s perhaps the more silent repercussions that sting the most. As you chomp down on that pulled pork sandwich or savoring a scrumptious slice of cake…you look back at your partner and you can literally see how your attraction level drops and drops with every bite…I’ve been on both sides of this – so I can’t really take sides.
6. No one else’s problems, tempers, issues, or traumas live under my roof
All the problems here are my own or have been created by me. I love the fairness of that deal. Anything I mess up, I should clean up. That teaches me to mess up less, because as you know….I hate cleaning.
7. I can start any personal projects I want to
I can understand if this is not everyone’s deal…but I love this aspect of my life. And this one really requires that you have oceans of time.
The last couple of years I’ve learned how to play the guitar, got deep into meditation, traveled to 32 countries, I learned how to paraglide (I have used my poetic license for the usage of “learned” in this context), I joined quite a few Kickstarter / collective funding projects, I built an Ethereum mining rig from scratch, I joined a charity and am currently helping out 2 low income families, I learned how to bake cakes, I got into crypto trading, I’ve taken several courses to update my everyday working skills and keep myself interesting to the job market, I’ve devoted a lot of time into learning more about the foods I eat and what they mean to my body, I spend hours and hours watching documentaries not only to learn new things but also to know…what else is out there! And if I find something new I like, I can start doing it the same week!
8. The TV’s remote control is mine
This one requires no explanation.
9. I answer only to myself
At the end of the day, when I look at myself in the mirror, what I see is the results of my actions and my actions alone. And that concept, I see as a privilege. There is nothing that embodies the concept of freedom more clearly than the understanding that you are the owner of your destiny. This is often something that we don’t realize how much we cherish until we don’t have it.
- If you would like to learn more about “Living Alone”: