It is intimidating. The prospect of living alone scares the crap out of many of us. For me it definitely did. My mind was raising a 1000 questions. For starters, how would I manage my food when my culinary skills were limited to noodles and omelettes?
I had zero experience in maintaining a house.
In the 24 years of my life, I had stayed alone on multiple occasions. But trust me, compared to living alone, staying alone is a rookie’s game. It is an entirely different experience that breaks you, teaches you and at the same time, changes your personality, for the better.
The four stages that one goes through on the journey of living alone:
Let’s have a quick look at these four stages:
This is the first and the most difficult step for most people. A test if you will. To be honest, I had always wanted to live alone. The driving force behind my decision though, was the appalling living condition of the PG (Paying Guest). Also a good friend who was fairly experienced kept encouraging me to take the leap. So one fine day I decided that enough is enough. I just couldn’t put up with the sub standard quality of life anymore and lo and behold! I found a house for rent within my budget shortly with the help of the friend. So I packed my bags and moved in to my new casa.
It was a rather compulsive decision but one of the best ones I ever made. Here’s how the days progressed . .
The First few Days: The Clumsy Guy
The first day for me was relatively smooth. Apart from shifting the luggage, a bit of cleaning and setting up the kitchen, there wasn’t much to do. For food I had take out.
I realised that the ordeal really starts from the second day. “Cooking” is by far the most challenging task. And you feel agitated because you feel like this:
I messed up the rice the first couple of times even after meticulously taking instructions. When I finally got it right, the quantity was too huge for consumption.
So the lessons from the first few days are
1. Learn basic cooking of staple food beforehand.
2. Warning: It might feel like a pain in the ass but do the dishes immediately after eating. The more they dry up, the harder it is to clean them later.
3. Arrange for some easy-to-make breakfast. Nobody likes to cook complicated stuff right after waking up
4. Get to know your surroundings well. Especially doctor’s clinic, pharmacy, provisions and services (like garbage disposal)
5. Make it a religious habit to turn the gas off properly after cooking. Stick a note in the kitchen if you tend to forget.
The first few days are definitely the toughest. But as you slowly get the knack of how things work, it becomes more enjoyable. The chores become much easier. sometimes you get an urge to run back to the old & familiar lifestyle but choose to hang in there.
The Next Few Days: The Lonely Guy
OK so I know my way around chores, I have acquired respectable cooking skills and life is smooth now. So I have more free time. The question is: What do I friggin’ do with all this time?
In the PG, loneliness was not an option. There were always people around to talk to. In the new house though, the silence was defeaning. No real human communication (no, telephonic conversations don’t count) drives one nuts. Everybody who lives alone goes through this phase. People tend to pick up unproductive habits like smoking and drinking. Or playing video games (or watching netflix) all the time.
Please avoid those traps at all costs. I realised that I have the gift of time and I decided to make the most of it.
Here is what I did to beat loneliness and effectively turn it an into enjoyable, productive time
1. Create a playlist with a variety of music. It really helps.
2. Buy some novels or other type of interesting books that you like
3. Make a list of all the skills that you ever wanted to master (a musical instrument for instance) and work on them
4. Take walks at night before hitting the hay
5. If pets are allowed, get a hamster or something (easy to manage and very adorable)
By this point you must be thinking “Well big deal! Why couldn’t you just make a lot of friends in the new neighbourhood!” Well you see, that was the whole point of living “alone”. Overcoming the compulsive need for “people” and “friends” all the time. Learning to become self sufficient and independent. Not only life-skill-wise but also emotionally and socially. Over-socialisation to beat loneliness, like most of us do, won’t serve the purpose.
The Days in Paradise: The King
After fighting my way through the first two phases, I arrived at what I call the paradise phase. I now enjoy a perfectly balanced life and absolutely adore my home. It now feels like my palace. And I feel like a king. You too will eventually arrive at this phase.
Here are the rewards it promises after you have finally mastered the art:
- The chores finally get done effortlessly and skilfully.
- There is a good chance that you can now boast of a few self-invented recipes!
- In terms of self development, you are miles ahead of your peers.
- Cooking, which was the most despised chore, becomes the most enjoyable one. Don’t believe me? Try it!
- You have a new skill-set in terms of managing a household which is huge! It will help you throughout your life.
- You feel like a king. You make, break and change the rules around your place.
Sure it is no cakewalk, living alone. But the benefits, by far, outweigh the initial struggles.
Live through the initial days of slight discomfort and struggle. I personally guarantee you that you will finally arrive at the paradise phase. And you will live the rest of the days like a king/queen.
So what are you waiting for? Take the plunge.