Living on your own – a pain or a privilege?

As the founder of A Tidy Mind, it’s fair to say ‘home’ has always been an anchor for me. Never mainly free-spirited, it was my dream to buy a home, and by hook and crook, I managed to purchase a flat at the age of 23. Now, it’s my dream to pay off the mortgage on my house – a goal that is still a work in progress.

But regardless of owning or not owning, I see ‘home’ as a place to lock myself away – often on my own – despite living with three other people and two animals. I NEED my time alone. I even persuaded my family to give up a bedroom in the house so I could have my own office – with a lock on the door naturally. At university, I was beyond excited that I had my tiny dorm room rather than the allocation of a shared room. And on Hen weekends I have paid extra to have my room. I’m not anti-social! I value my own company and need it to recharge.

So there we have it – NO problem with living on my own, and I’ve engineered it in the past. So, how come the three years I spent living solo in my flat in my 20s were so challenging? I experienced some seriously lonely times within those four walls. But I never got a flatmate or moved into a shared house.  I guess the benefits always outweighed the drawbacks, but it was paradoxical. They say humans are social creatures but also need a retreat from the world – so perhaps it’s a balance of the two that we need.

Having lived in my own and since I work with plenty of clients who are living solo, I’ve put together a survival guide to deal with some of the unique challenges as well as highlighting the enormous advantages of having a space that’s truly your own:

living alone

Dealing with loneliness

Many young people long to leave their childhood home and have their own space but can’t afford to. Then there are the ones who are sick of their current roommates, not to mention quite a few who wish they had more time to themselves. 

But living alone, whether renting or a homeowner, can be isolating. Be comfortable in your skin, sit with your thoughts, and know when to let them go. Getting in touch with your creative side to fill your spare time at home can be hugely beneficial. And, of course, have a support network for evening activities, whether online or in person.

Being self-sufficient is a skill which needs to be acquired but can lead to intense personal growth.

Eating properly

No one will tell you off for eating cheese on toast for the third evening running, and it can seem like an effort to cook for one. However, nourishing yourself is a vital part of your self-care. Batch-cooking healthy meals and then freezing portions is a great way to ensure you eat healthily with minimum effort.

Also, use videos like these in your spare time to help you out –  even when you’ve only got a few minutes until the corner shop closes and an hour to be in bed at a healthy hour, recipes like these can help you! (Video by 5-Minute Crafts)

Getting Locked Out

You’re all on your own; there’s no one left inside to open the door for you! Even if you’ve got a cat or dog, they’re probably not talented enough to unlock a door twice their height…

You are living on your forces to have contingency plans in scenarios such as these, whether that’s Local Locksmiths or a key safe in the garden.

Experiencing a Power Cut

You don’t have anyone around to tell you it’s just the electricity and not your own eyes, and you don’t have anyone to help guide you to the cupboard where you keep the torch and the emergency candles! And what if there’s a surge? You don’t have someone else to remind you to unplug the TV that cost the earth.

Again, being prepared is the key. So make sure your phone already has a flashlight app. And ensure those torches above and candles are always kept in their allocated homes.

In 2017, 3.9 million people aged 16 to 64 lived alone. By the end of 2018, that figure is set to double. Many do so happily and through choice, but some are experiencing isolation. Look around at your neighbours, family, and friends and see if you can identify someone to reach out to. A kind gesture or checking whether they are okay might be exactly what they need and appreciated more than you could know.

Thanks for reading

Kate – Founder of A Tidy Mind

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