The thought of living alone may be terrifying to some. But for many people who have actually done it, the experience turns out to be not only enjoyable but enriching too.
Can it get lonely at times? Sure. But many people find beauty in the pure solitude ― including artist Yaoyao Ma Van As.
Before she was married, she lived alone with her dog, Parker, and has since created a series of illustrations that celebrate the intimate magic of solo living.
“When you live alone, your time is accountable only to you, and it’s a really great opportunity to figure out exactly what it is that you actually enjoy doing, and then having the time to actually do it without feeling guilty,” Ma Van As told HuffPost.
Another artist, Mari Andrew (who created the pie chart below about living alone), told HuffPost that living on her own gave her an opportunity to create a space that felt like her personal sanctuary.
“Making my space into my personal oasis was a life-changer for me because it made me realize how many other parts of my life were within my control,” said Andrew, author of the forthcoming book Am I There Yet?: The Loop-de-loop, Zigzagging Journey to Adulthood. “I often thought, ‘I wish I lived in a more colorful, eclectic apartment,’ so at one point I just decided to make my space exactly as I wanted it.”
She continued: “That spirit permeated my whole life, so that whenever I caught myself thinking, ‘I wish I were the kind of person who took dance classes’ or ‘I wish I knew how to surf’ or ‘I want to write a book someday,’ I recognized that those things were entirely in my control. Making your space your own is a great step to making your life your own.”
We asked HuffPost readers who have lived alone to share some of the best and most enlightening parts of solo living. Here’s what they had to say:
Note: Some responses have been lightly edited or condensed for clarity. The last names of respondents have been withheld to protect their privacy and safety.
1. You can make your own damn house rules
“Living alone means I can be the master of my zen at all times. If I want calm and quiet, I can have it. If I want to have an impromptu solo dance party in my kitchen to Salt-N-Pepa, no problem. If I want to sleep in until 10 a.m. on Sunday, or get up early and do yoga, I do. If I want to leave my dirty dishes in the sink, I can. If I want to spend three unadulterated, uninterrupted hours cleaning my baseboards, I can do that too. If I want to just sit and read my book with my dogs curled up at my feet, I will. Living alone to me means I have the freedom to cultivate a home environment that nourishes my soul.” ― Shae I.
2. You get to know yourself better
“There is no better way to learn about yourself, but it takes courage — no one to ‘distract’ you from building your own life, make decisions for you or fix the things you don’t want to deal with. After a while, you find out that you’re really the only person you ever need, and life’s craziness doesn’t seem as scary after that.” ― Vanessa S.
3. It’s a dream come true for an introvert
“I have peace and quiet, deliciously alone. I am embracing my introvert-ness, I can be home alone not being judged because I’m not being social. I can get in bed at 6:30 p.m. in the dark of winter days and no one cares. It is so wonderful.” ― Netta B.
4. And for an extrovert as well
“As an extrovert, getting my energy from people, I️ didn’t think I️ was going to enjoy living alone. I️ loved it! I learned to meditate! It made me realize how much I️ enjoy alone time.” ― June S.
5. You’ll face some of your fears
“You have to brave up in order to deal with strange and scary sounds or being the only one to answer the door. You have to deal with the bills and security. You handle the creepy-crawlies and you learn when to ask for help.” ― Laura A.
6. You realize just how capable you are
“I honestly think that everyone should have to spend at least two years living on their own. No roommates, family or friends ― just themselves. Pay their bills on time, learn consequences of budget failure, experience fever and chills with no one to care for you except you. Living alone builds character.” ― Jennifer J.
7. You become more comfortable with yourself
“I came to discover that I actually enjoyed being alone. If I couldn’t learn to be with myself and enjoy my own company, how would anyone else enjoy being with me? It was liberating, peaceful and educational. I look back on those days and I am grateful for that experience.” ― Sylvia B.
8. You can be a bed hog
“The entire bed is mine and I don’t have to share an inch of it. I’ve really been able to learn what I want, what I need, and how to take care of the person I am.” ― Tracey Z.
9. You can decorate the space to your exact specifications
“I’ve been painting my walls the most gorgeous colors ― orange, pink, mint, blue ― and decorating with prints and photos I like. I’ve never been able to decorate exactly as I want before now.” ― Narina S.
10. And you don’t have to compromise when it comes to any of your living preferences
“I miss living alone all the time! I’ve spent the last five years living with my boyfriend in a small San Francisco apartment. I can work with people all day long and be successful in my career, but I need to recharge at night. Not only now is there someone else there when I get home who I must find energy to engage with, there are compromises! So many compromises! Like we have to have a full actual dinner. I could eat cereal for dinner. I can no longer decide that maybe it is one of those days I just want to come home, put PJs on and fall asleep at 7 p.m. on the couch. Even when I try, I’m woken up to go to bed. The nerve!” ― Jennifer J.
11. You never have to worry about your roommate making a mess or using your stuff without asking
“I could set things up and clean before work and when I return, everything is exactly as it was left. Food is easy to prep and portion, always where you left it in the fridge. Also guests, parties and sleepovers without having to coordinate with housemates is the best.” ― Allyson R.
12. Heck, it might even make you more productive
“I’ve realized there’s a distinct difference between loneliness and being solitary. There are times when I want to go out but no one is available so I feel ‘lonely’ but then I look around and see laundry and dirty dishes and decide to be productive and exist alone. And then I’m content in my solitude.” ― Jesse E.
13. You have the freedom to sing out loud, dance around the apartment or walk around naked, if that’s your thing
“I can sing at the top of my lungs and no one cares (my dog might bark at times because I’m so terrible, but other than that). It’s the one place I can truly be me, on my own, on my own terms.” ― Courtney C.
14. It pushes you to make more of an effort to see friends
“It’s so easy to stay at home and hang out by yourself, but I learned to reach out more to people and truly cherish my friendships more.” ― Rebecca E.
15. You gain confidence knowing that no matter what, you’re OK on your own
“Most of my life has been living in a state of making sure everyone around me was OK, and living alone has taught me how to make sure that I’m also OK. As a 24-year-old, I’ve learned that I have actively avoided relationships out of fear of feeling stuck and out of a fear of dependence. I feared finding myself in a long-term toxic relationship where I felt as if I couldn’t leave. Now that I’ve lived alone and know that I can do it and enjoy doing it, living alone is now ALWAYS an option for me. I don’t need to fear dependence, because I now understand independence and can be open to partnership.” ― Katie T.