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If you are a single woman who has had the opportunity to live alone – and let’s say, it happened during your working years – you’ve pretty much won the lottery. Does living alone sound bland to you? Or scary? Or maybe like a never-ending party? I call it winning the lottery because living alone is not just a life situation, but also a journey of empowerment.
When I Won The Lottery
I won this lottery when I was single and moved to a new city for one whole year. It is intriguing that with all that freedom at hand, what I really learned was a deep sense of responsibility towards myself.
The first step was finding an apartment. No, wait – it was finding an agent! After evaluating 20 apartments, I chose a 2-BHK. It was far too big for a tiny person such as myself, but I had to ensure my safety first. I had to use my negotiation skills to get a good deal on the lease. Since the flat was unfurnished, I had to get the basics in place. I wasn’t going to spend my hard-earned money on getting every gadget, appliance, or piece of furniture and décor. There had to be a budget, and I had to stick to it.
Living alone taught me money management in the most real way.
We often take living with our parents for granted. There is always food in the kitchen; everything from rent to laundry is taken care of; we rarely even realise what our personal expenses are. But staying alone means everything from groceries, laundry, and gas to cleaning, bill payments, and repairs is our responsibility.
It’s only when we leave the cocoon of comfort that we realise the daily hustle beyond our work life and become truly independent.
Enjoying My Own Company
Have you had a meal at a restaurant all by yourself? Or a cup of coffee at a café ? I had not. That was until I got impatient waiting for some company to turn up. So, I decided to give myself company.
I admit that it was unsettling initially. The first few times, I carried a book along. But as I got comfortable being by myself, I let go of it. I finally got comfortable in my own skin.
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Cooking My Own Meals
Though I knew the basics of cooking, I didn’t have enough hands-on experience. I hadn’t given it the importance it deserved. But living alone, I had to upskill myself. How long can one eat out or order in? So I learned how to cook. I watched YouTube videos, bought ingredients, cooked, and ate (I took pictures and then ate).
When I learned to cook for myself, I felt like a more confident person.
Then there is the occasional visit from your favourite pest. The one you love to hate. In my case, it was the cockroach.
The first time I saw one in my apartment, I almost decided to flee and never come back. But where exactly would you go if you ran out of your own home?
I had to deal with the situation, and I did. More than once. My parents back home said that I deserved a bravery medal for it.
Isn’t life a little boring when you don’t make a mistake every once in a while? I’ve made a few.
Once, my landlord called me when I was at work. My neighbour had called to inform him that my apartment door was open. I panicked, borrowed my colleague’s car, and rushed home. The door was, indeed, open. Thankfully, my neighbour noticed it on time. In all probability, I was on a work call in the morning and had recklessly left the door unlocked. I wonder, to this day, how I could have been so irresponsible.
Feeling The Blues
Living alone can also get lonely sometimes.
Once, during the festive season, I felt blue because I couldn’t see my family. I decided to spend the evening at a friend’s place. For some reason, I wasn’t able to inform him about my visit, so I bought some sweets for his family and decided to simply land up at his house. Because there was no transportation available that evening, I walked to his house which was 2 km away, and found the door locked. The disappointment was so hard to bear that I walked back home with tears in my eyes.
It was in such moments that I felt bored and wondered about getting flatmates.
What I Gained
Eventually, boredom taught me to enjoy solitude. Mistakes made me more responsible. Loneliness made me stronger and more at peace with myself. Not having to answer to anyone made me more disciplined. I got comfortable with myself. All in all, I think I got a great deal out of my experience.
Think of an instance that made your self-confidence hit a new high. When you did that happy dance, even if only in your head. Was it when you got that ‘salary credited’ message on your phone? Or when your hustle led to that big promotion? Was it when you learned to swim or drive? Or when you baked a cake that turned out to be perfect?
More often than not, achieving something all on your own builds true self-confidence. It makes you feel truly empowered. So if life gives you an opportunity to do something by yourself, take it! However scary it may seem, embrace it. It will give you wings.
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