I enjoy the occasional list or just bullet pointing things out – it helps me get my mind in order because mine is just so unruly it enjoys bouncing around. Have to say my brain is seldom bored because it is like a child in a bouncy castle (or a trampoline – I love those!).
Hence at times or even at this process that I’m going through I really need to look back and think back to what got me here. Or even, how did I get here. At times it feels like a cycle that is repeating itself again or simply being sprung off into a new unknown realm. Either way I would like to think that I have been pretty good with rolling with the punches. So let’s backtrack a bit..
One of the most poignant events of my life was my Dad’s passing, so after that event for myself I just really could no longer stick around at home. Even before it had happened I was already anticipating graduating, going to university abroad and as life would have it it was more important that I stay home at least for university. I did, got into one of the best marketing universities in Brazil, had a great internship in a dynamic design agency but deep inside leaning closer to the last year of university that I felt that I needed a break, needed to get out. In hindsight I needed to get away from all that I knew to heal the wound left by my Dad.
When I was little my parents would often send me overseas to summer school/camp or even for short holidays – I am pretty sure that influenced the crazy travel bug that I proudly boast.
We all have this quiet wisdom that knows you better than you know yourself – the immediate feeling of whether a place is right or wrong.
Luckily I winded up close to my graduation (actually I didn’t even get to go to my graduation party) in all places – Beijing, China. Two of my friends at the time had gone to Beijing to study Mandarin which sounded to me completely interesting since I was finishing uni, had been let go from my internship there was little holding me in Brazil. My brother was back and he got along with my mother much more smoothly than I did. I tagged along and went to China and roomed with one of these friends, turns out what people were saying about never rooming with friends is true..it does ruin friendships especially if both sides aren’t willing to be upfront and talk about any issues.
We had a falling out, lost my deposit for the apartment we were sharing and from that point just opted to try living on my own. One of the best advices I had gotten at the time was “If you don’t live alone now when are you? When we are little we live with our parents, then with our boyfriend/husband.”
With that advice, I took it and ran with it. From that point on I just realised how much I enjoyed living alone. Below is a pic of my very first place, I even remember the address, it was in Wudaokou district close to Beijing Language & Culture University where I was taking my Mandarin course.
As you can tell by the mess, I was figuring out every single day how to live alone.
Living alone is a rite of passage into adulthood – birdy learning how to spread wings for a rental nest.
10 Things I learned from living alone
- Personal organisation skills
No parents, maid or close sibling to help clear up any mess that goes off in your room. The entire house is now organised by you, yourself only. Now the real question is whether you have organised chaos (like I did) or luxury hotel room worthy organisation (which was my brother’s bedroom). Making your bed, washing the dishes and cleaning the house made me become more tidy. Granted there were weeks I couldn’t be bothered and then I would go mental on cleaning patrol for a entire weekend!
Learning moment: Organising a folder for all your bills and making sure you don’t come home one day and your A/C or WIFI has been cut off because you forgot to pay/budget.
- Sacred silence or noise when you want it!
If you don’t have any fussy neighbours you don’t need to argue with anyone about blasting any music that you want to listen too, perform your own shower concerts or even have no one snoring right into your ear or from next door. Oh, and the WIFI, TV, movie selection is all up to you. Want to have a House DVD marathon? Why yes because no one can say no!
Learning moment: KTV at home without having to fight for the mic (or your hairbrush shaped mic)
- Culinary skills put to the test
Unless you are planning to cook from take-out menus or having the fridge as just a decor piece this is one skill you want to try and master. I mean master not burning to coal. I even remember that on the 1st week after moving in sending a AIM to a friend asking how does one cook a steak. Yep, now I can make cakes so see how far we’ve come!
Learning moment: How to pick produce out, wash it properly and how to season food…oh yea not burning food/apartment down.
- Enjoying your own company
I really really really solidly believe that I have become much more friends with myself for it. You start to learn about yourself a lot, what things you like to do, how you like them to be done. I noticed about how I even had a little routine of how I wanted things to be done, sounds a bit OCD but even having incoherent conversations with yourself out loud or in your mind is vastly entertaining. I have a better sense/awareness of my likes and dislikes.
Learning moment: I see that I am very introspective, I quite enjoying my solitude – perhaps too much at times but I think now a days I have a better balance without suffering cabin fever.
- This one is obvious, FREEEEEDOM
When you are little and if you couldn’t lock your own door you just find yourself picturing the day you have your own place and doing whatever you want. FREEDOM from strutting around naked about the house (just make sure you have no neighbours that can peek into your window) to just come and go as you want without someone calling you and asking “Where are you and what time are you coming home?” I felt it was liberating because it was up to my on discern what I wanted to do.
Learning moment: Not getting fussed at all from forgetting your towel after showering OR just tossing your things anywhere without the nagging sound of someone complaining
- Another obvious one..Independence
At the beginning I struggled a little with this idea of independence, moving in at first it was all happy happy joy joy, house warming party a great celebration but then when it’s over you are left with well obviously the cleaning up. And yourself. Feeling lonely surprisingly was not a issue for me – being a bit of a introvert I do enjoy my own company. It helped me build confidence and courage by not having to rely or check with someone else if I needed to do something.
Learning moment: Calling the shots, making the decision of whether to go out, come home, looking for future apartments on my own, managing my own money
- You learn your boundaries
..and you learn it when you go to other people’s houses or if they stay over about what might set you off or even how you host. I for example love to cook for other people, just more fulfilling when making a meal. Seriously living alone I was cooking quite a few one-pot meals so I could do one-pot dish washing. That’s the other thing, you see what house chores you loathe more to do and perhaps if you are like me try to tackle those first before doing the not so bad ones.
Learning moment: Finally mastering keeping my shoes by the door so I wouldn’t get dirt all over the apartment.
- Your own space – ‘All your things are belong to you’
No curfew or waking up early because of someone else making noise in the other room. No needed to worry if someone took your favourite top without telling you or throwing something of yours out. No need to share, you get to decorate (or learn how to decorate). I think this one also taught me a lot about tastes.
Learning moment: To take care of my belongings and of the rental apartment with proper respect.
- No one can clean up your mess, it’s all your own..Responsibility
House/Apartment is a mess, up to you to clean it or just figure ways of piling them in corners so one area of the entire household gives the semblance of organisation. Growing up I was so awful at helping out doing the dishes or making my own bed – the first month I actually was lax about it until I was fed up by my own chaos. Full disclosure, I’ll admit I had a ‘ayi’ (Chinese word for maid) in the beginning once per week since it was a great way to practice Chinese anyhow or when I had roommates because well, my past roommates weren’t super neat and we had crazy work schedules (China being also one of the dustiest places ever I recall sweeping the floor 2-3x per week).
The monthly bills, groceries you learn to budget and save the money for them.
Learning moment: Being responsible for myself to wake up on time, make breakfast and still make it to class/work on time.
- Handy survival skills aka. kill that cockroach
Living alone I feel that it teaches you particular street survival skills in way, being aware of your surroundings when you come home, what’s the best route to get home, doing laundry properly, what is the best way to pack or carry your groceries to the apartment. I had a massive unnatural fear towards cockroaches and well in China they are just everywhere, even the flying ones
Learning moment: Getting around cities, observational and attention skills when walking around alone and well that the best way to kill a cockroach is having a spray bottle of Dettol mixed with water.
Well I hope these examples can help inspire or even help you make your decision to try out living alone at one point!