I have always revelled in my own space. For someone so outwardly sociable, I am something of a loner behind closed doors. I crave time to myself. I seek space to be creative, I benefit from peace and quiet and balance, and I gain strength from building myself up, away from other people. If I can't see my next "me day", I panic. It stresses me out to be around other people all the damn time - I want space to be in my thoughts and to restore balance. As such, I have never been great at living with other people. When outside of the house I am so busy, as soon as I get home I just want to crash. That's when, believe it or not, I don't want to talk. I want to watch Girls by myself, I want to sing Disney songs at the top of my lungs whilst baking up a storm, I want to get on with being me without interruption or distraction.
So this year has been a world of luxuries for me. When people ask me what it's been like living alone, I tell them I FREAKING LOVE IT. Several people have asked me if I get scared or lonely, and I can honestly say I don't. When your life is so full, and you have so many demands on you, it's an actual dreamboat to come home to a haven that you've created and not have to answer to anyone. I don't have time to get lonely, if anything I crave more me-time, not less. It might be different if I didn't have a full-time job, and wasn't naturally surrounded by people - then I imagine I would get lonely, I'd miss talking to people and bouncing off the energy of others, but I spend so much time talking and bouncing day in and day out, that coming home is my opportunity to JUST.STOP.
Lately though, I have really felt the perils of being a single-person household. For starters, dem bills bills bills have eaten into my bank balance - my outgoings more than doubled in the last year and man I am feeling that sting. And not just because I treat every food shop like a supermarket sweep. But that's just the price you pay when you make the choice to be independent.What I find more challenging, are the day to day practicalities of running a house, with no help.
In a shared house or living with a partner you share chores and responsibilities. It's not always on you to put the bins out, to clean the bathroom, to fix things that are broken. Now, a huge chunk of my time is spent just keeping everything ticking over. I am constantly listing things that need doing, and feeling like ain't nobody got time for dat. Not when I am out of the house 10 hours a day working to pay my own way.
At the moment, it's relentless. I need shelves putting up, my hoover needs fixing, the house is damp (I spend a lot of time scrubbing walls with bleach). Today alone I have been to the basement (a terrifying feat) to sort out a tripped fuse THREE TIMES, I have fixed the oven, I have cleaned the kitchen, changed the bed-sheets and got stuff in for tea that I will cook, and then wash up from. If there is no milk, I get it. If there is a problem, I make calls to sort it. If there is a spider, it's me who hides under her bed covers and wills it to politely leave (sometimes I get scared).
Guys, living alone is awesome but it is hard damn work. You have to remember every. single. bin day. Food for one is bloody expensive. I spend weekends cleaning my bathroom, calling British Gas, doing the food shop. Because there is no-one else to do it, and woman be working all week long. I was by no means spoilt as a kid, and have been helping round the house since I can remember - having a poorly, single mother meant I had to grow up pretty sharp and learn how to fold a good bed-sheet. But despite that practice, I cannot tell you the shock it has been to my system to do all this stuff, and not have a single other person help me - I've started to miss that, and sometimes it wears me down. I take my hat off to anybody who has to do all that with no help AND has little people depending on them. You are heroes.
All this said, I wouldn't have it any other way right now. I am 29, and one day I'll look back on these days with so much affection - these years are building me up, up, up! I would always advise anybody to take the plunge to living alone, if you can afford it. It teaches you independence like nothing else. It gives you the space to reflect, and to make yourself stronger, fitter, smarter. I am learning new things all the time. I am becoming a one woman tool box and a force to be reckoned with. I can bake a cake AND fix the oven I baked it in. I will always crave someone looking after me, like we all do. I will crave coming home to dinner on the table for once, instead of having to traipse home from work with splitting carrier bags before cooking it myself. I will crave someone sharing the housework so that I have more time for me, and I will crave someone rubbing my shoulders at the end of the day when my feet haven't touched the ground. But until that day comes, I am going to revel in my own space, and being my own person, and I am going to get even stronger than I was before.