How I finally got used to the weirdness of living alone

Ever since I was a child, I’ve always considered myself an introvert. My closest friends know I need and crave plenty of alone time to decompress, no matter how much I love them. Plus, I like the feeling of doing things on my own time, and I’m more than a little bit stuck in my ways. This is why I was 100% convinced that when I set out to move into my first grown-lady apartment—with just myself—I would be totally fine.

Well, I wasn’t. At least not for the first six months.

It turns out that living alone is a lot different than liking “alone time.” When you live with someone else, you can go into your room, shut the door, and do whatever you like; there’s still another person on the other side of that door. There’s still another soul around should you have an emotional breakdown, a hilarious anecdote, or when you see the mouse in your kitchen you affectionately named Rutherford just to keep yourself from squealing.

It didn’t take long for me to learn that not having that other person around was difficult. There were a few times when I was sick that I’d feel a wave of childlike anxiety wash over me at not having someone bring me chicken noodle soup, or merely to check in to see how I was doing. It was during those times that I’d sheepishly retreat to the comfort of my parents’ house, feeling defeated while watching daytime soaps and drinking their ginger ale. I started to discover I was a pretty lousy introvert: one who missed having someone ask about their day or confirm a suspicious noise was really just the wind. For someone who had bragged about their ability to be alone, actually living by myself proved I didn’t know half as much about the topic as I’d claimed.

But what I did know, and still do, is that this is the stuff of growing up. I don’t think paying taxes or going antiquing on the weekends makes you mature — although I have started doing both of those things and they feel very real — I think it’s learning to nurture yourself. So as the months went on, I started buying myself fresh flowers once a week. I lit incense and candles and tried to set a calm mood. I began, however humbly, to relax into my new life. I had friends over when I felt like it, bought a nice journal to keep by my bed, and gave myself permission to not have every feeling figured out. Oh, and did I mention I started living a very pants-optional lifestyle? (Talk about perks!)

The not-so-glamorous and messy ways of living alone can be totally fun — once you get used to it. Of course I still get lonely sometimes, but I no longer think that loneliness is some sign of introvert-failure. I’m learning to relish my personal freedom and the choices I get to make that don’t need anyone’s approval. I get into bed ridiculously early when I want to, watch hours of 30 Rock, and LOL to myself in the dorkiest way imaginable. I have the freedom to sing in the shower, eat pizza in my undies, and cover the place with Mod Podge for my latest DIY project. And when I’m humbled by moments of loneliness, I try to remember that I have the best of both worlds: not only do I have amazing people who love me, but I’m learning how to love myself.

Claire Davidson is a food editor by day and a creative writer by night. When she’s not busy writing, Claire can be found working on her night cheese, lip-synching to Beyoncé, or dreaming of ways to sneak a canine into her dog-free apartment. She blogs occasionally about life and tweets too much, mostly about the Real Housewives franchise.

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