#FridayFive: Five Things You Learn Living Alone

Friday Five

I’ve been living fully on my own for the past six months now. I couldn’t wait to finally have my own place, finally feel like a proper adult and finally feel like I had my life together. I have the most amazing flat in Liverpool City Centre that’s cheaper than my room in a shared house in London. Although, I did love my room in London – it was constantly like living in a sauna and I do prefer being too warm than too cold. It was also very spacious. And it had an en suite. But it was hella expensive.

Ever since moving away from home, I’ve lived with other people. In halls in first year, then with my friends in a house in second year, then another shared house in London (only this time with strangers). But I knew coming back to final year in Liverpool that I wanted my own space. I wanted somewhere central and something a little more luxurious than an icebox room in Kensington.

I’m now halfway through my lease and I’ve learnt a lot from living completely on my own. There’s pros and cons to living by yourself at a young age, just like there are pros and cons to everything. Below are five things I’ve learnt while living by myself.

1. Small things become really big things

During my first week of moving in, my extractor fan blew up. I had only used it for the first time and suddenly there was white smoke coming from the cupboard above. I could smell the smoke and I could see it. Did I panic? Absolutely. Could I ring my dad who was back in Ireland for help? Absolutely not. What could he have done? I calmed myself down (after hyperventilating a bit) and quickly thought of what to do. It wasn’t an actual fire, something had just blown. I opened all the windows to get the smoke out before the smoke detectors went off and tried to clear the smell. I almost cried, but I didn’t. I haven’t used the extractor fan since (or tried to get it fixed).

A few weeks ago, it was Saturday morning and at 11.30am my smoke alarm started to bleep. It woke me from my sleep and I was hungover but thankful that it was after 11am and not going off at 6am. I assumed it was the battery that needed changing, but how would I go about that? Again, I almost got upset because my dad would usually do these things for us at home. I climbed on a chair and tried to handle it myself and I wish I could say that I handled it but I couldn’t get the top off, so the maintenance team came to my rescue instead.

But such a small thing like my smoke alarm needing a new battery almost made me cry?! When these things happen I just have to not panic and find a solution by myself – if Google doesn’t have the answer. Living by myself means I have to do everything (most things) by myself because no one else is going to do it for me.

2. It’s time to be an adult

I pay rent, electricity bills and do my own washing. I’m now financially independent – minus the student debt. I’m also now a stickler for how much electricity I use, turning lights off, plugs off, even the oven and hob. I have to put food in the fridge, take my bins out and clean my flat from top to bottom.

There’s no one here to tell me when to do things or to do them for me. There’s no one here to get me out of bed in the morning (something I’m struggling with) or to nag at me to do my dishes. I’m the only person looking after me, so I need to know when there’s no bin bags left or when the shampoo’s run out or when the milk’s gone off. I don’t have any flatmates to steal borrow from anymore.

3. Time is yours

I no longer have to wait until someone else is finished cooking their meals, so that there’s a hob free or room in the oven. I don’t have to wash my dishes straight away because someone else needs the saucepan or plate. There’s no more waiting to use the shower or being told off for using the hairdryer past 12am. I can do things whenever I want without having to worry about who’s in front or behind me. My day runs a lot more smoothly and life is much easier being able to do all of these things when and where I want.

It’s great to not be woken up by your flatmates at stupid o’clock when they’re off to work and you have the day off. It’s also great to not be woken up at 4am with a house-party going on in the kitchen. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I miss the company and being able to complain about these things, but most of the time it’s a relief.

4. Being sick on your own isn’t great

When you’re ill, there’s no one there to make you soup, get you a hot water bottle, fetch you endless glasses of Diet Coke or give you sympathy. You’re on your own so you’ve got to handle it on your own and get on with things. I’m not usually the most sympathetic person in the world, but when it’s my turn to be unwell, I usually expect all the sympathy in the world.

I’ve learnt to be fully independent from living by myself. I’ve always enjoyed my own company, perhaps that comes from growing up as an only child, but I like to spend time alone as well as spend time with my friends. I don’t actually spend that much time by myself in my flat as I’m usually at university, work or with friends (or in McCooley’s), but when I do, I’m usually glued to my laptop screen blogging or watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix.

It’s pretty crap being sick and living by yourself – however I am yet to experience actually being ill, rather just hangovers. I find the best remedy to be darkness, a lot of sleep and a Deliveroo order of Wagamamas at 8pm.

5. You learn about who you really are

When you live on your own, you’re the most ‘you’ that you can be. When no one’s around to watch or judge you, no face to put on for the cameras or people watching. You can think on your own, act on your own and be your actual self. Lying up on a Sunday night, straight out of the shower, towel wrapped around my head, facemask on and Netflix loaded is my favourite form of ‘me-time’ and there’s no one around to judge or laugh. Oh God, am I Bridget Jones?!

There was an interview circulating on Twitter showing an Influencer speaking of living on her own and how every young person should live on their own at some point during their 20s, so that they can discover who they really are. It made sense to me and I supported the claim, but she received a lot of backlash as not many young people can afford to live on their own in cities like London, especially not in their early 20s. This made even more sense. I’ve been there, done that, lived with four housemates. The theory is great, but in practice, it’s not really achievable unless you live somewhere like Liverpool or anywhere other than London, really.

I’m really loving living by myself this year as I definitely get a lot more done and am not being tempted to do things with my housemates every day when I actually need to do work. I’ve learnt how to be self-sufficient and no longer have anyone to come behind me to clean, which means I have to do everything. I wouldn’t suggest that everyone try it as some people may not be able to cope as well with the feeling of being completely alone. If I’m planning on moving to a big city next year, I think I would rather share a flat or house as I’d be able to make friends and also cut down on costs. My view of Liverpool and my balcony that receives the sun all-day round is definitely worth the expense for my final year of university.

2 Comments

  1. February 1, 2019 / 3:51 pm

    Here you are, writing about garbage and I’m still enjoying reading. You’ve even made me feel all nostalgic (as well as very old). I recall the decision I used to make in a cold room in a student house in York. 50p for the gas meter, or 49p for a pint of Sam Smith’s at a nearby pub. No choice, really.

    • orlaghclaire
      Author
      February 1, 2019 / 8:58 pm

      I thought for a second you meant the blog topic was garbage, but I’m hoping you were referencing the bin bags I kept mentioning haha…? We charged £2 for a pint of Sam Smith’s at the bar I worked in during my second year and I thought that was cheap, but 49p? Was it legal to sell alcohol that cheaply?!

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