All the things you learn living alone in a new city
My first night in Los Angeles, I said goodnight to my friends with a cheery smile, went into their guest bathroom, turned on the shower and cried. The minute the plane landed it was clear to me that I made a terrible mistake. I’m a New Yorker. There was no possible way I could survive in LA. Not without my besite, not without my family and not without that confidence that comes from living somewhere your entire life.
Turns out, actually, I was wrong. Weirdly enough, I’m still here. I plan on being here for a long time. I’m not saying that it’s not hard. It is! Making new friends and finding new haunts is a process. I am alone most of the time and sometimes it gets lonely, but it’s also awesome. Because, I learned some amazing things about me.
Moving out of what’s comfortable is scary, but it’s also important
The main trick I’ve learned about keeping myself positive in my current situation is to remember the reason I moved in the first place. It sounds crazy: Moving across the country to a city where you only know four people. But I did it because I have a dream. I want to write in television, and this is the place where you come to do that. Am I really going to look back at my life and realize that I didn’t live my dreams, because I ran back to what was comfortable? No way. Even when it’s scary, I remember why I came here and get inspired.
Having a space all your own can be freeing
Before I came to LA, I had always lived with people: family, college assigned roommates, friends and even strangers. There’s always been someone down the hall, but now there’s just me in a small studio. Let me tell you, there is nothing better than that first time you forget your towel in your suitcase, walk out of the bathroom and stand in your apartment as naked as the day you were born. It’s all your space, and you can revel in it. Smelly food? Who cares. You prefer to wash the dishes in the morning instead of at night? That’s cool, it’s only your dirty dishes. You want to watch your CW television shows or blast that audiobook? Do it. There’s no one there to hear it but you.
Texts and emails can keep you company when people can’t be there IRL
I knew when my best friend had sushi without me for the first time. She knew when the pain in my knee kicked back up and she still gets on me about my writing. Why? Because we text. Every day my BFF and I exchange stories, admit secrets and discuss the people in our lives. We also send moaning texts that say “why aren’t you here?” I miss her, but I don’t because we stay in touch. Staying in touch with your home base is important. I Facetimed my mom when buying furniture, because mom knows best. I have long Facebook chains with friends about nothing and everything. And, I have emails for days about Game of Thrones with my TV gang. Staying in touch is important, because living alone doesn’t mean receding into yourself.
Being alone doesn’t mean you’re lonely
My biggest concern about moving into a studio was being lonely. But, at night I put on my TV or read a book while lounging on my couch and I feel content. Because, there is peace in it. If I want quiet, it’s quiet. If I want noise. I put on some music. If I want to be surrounded by people, I go down to the local coffee shop, or I join a class or I sign up for a meet up. If I want companionship I call a friend and see if they want to hang out. Or I Skype with a friend who is far away. As time has gone by I realize that being alone doesn’t mean I’m lonely.It means I’m by myself, and being by yourself can be really good. It’s doing what you want to do. It’s eating what you want to eat. It’s being your own boss and making your own choices.
Living alone has made me face myself. And, that’s really important, because now I know who I am when no one is watching. I know that I like to talk to the TV or whatever book I’m reading. I know that I like to sing in the shower. I know that I prefer a companion for dinner, because if not I will eat an entire plate in minutes. I know me.
Standing on your own two feet is empowering
Before moving to LA I’d never bought furniture, never signed a rent check, never had anything beyond a bank account in my name and never really used a screwdriver. And, because of that I was afraid. How was I going to do this without my mother? How was I going to do this without my friend? How was I going to do this without a guy? Answer? With flying colors.
I’m writing this sitting on a chair that I picked out that is apart of a set with a table that I built by myself. That’s right. The delivery guys showed, dropped it off and walked out the door. I rolled up my sleeves, put on sweats and built a table. Technically I just put it together, but in my head I did it all. This table is my creation. It sounds small, but I sat on a folding chair and used an aerobed box as a table for weeks. I waited for a friend to come and take me to the furniture shop, because I was nervous to go alone. After getting cancelled on and hearing nothing back, I got up went to the furniture store and purchased furniture. Sure, I called my mom for advice, but I still did it by myself.
What I learned from putting together my furniture is that I do not quit. When the bolts don’t fit just right and the screws don’t go all the way in. I don’t shrug or give up. I start over again. That’s something I didn’t know about myself before and that’s something that I love about myself.
Today, I looked around my apartment and realized that everything in it is mine. I’m responsible for it. And that’s a lot to process. But also? it’s pretty awesome.
[Image via 30 Rock]