Why I Love Living Alone In My 30s

photographed by Meg O'Donnell.
The other night I had a dream. I was playing Rizzo in a stage production of Grease. It all felt so real, and my singing was so excellent, that I woke up and had the urge to play the soundtrack on my phone, singing along to it (very badly) for a few minutes before getting up and heading into the shower. If anyone had heard or seen such a personal moment between myself and Spotify, I would have run for the hills in shame, but luckily I live alone and the freedom to sing loudly and terribly is just one of the glorious reasons why.
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I know I am very lucky to be able to live alone in London, a city where property is becoming more and more financially inaccessible to so many. It is a challenge money-wise and I do have to make sacrifices each month, but it’s also one of the best decisions I ever made. Your own space can be a haven, a small corner of a busy city that’s yours and yours alone. Other times it can be more challenging – lonely, isolating and often unsettling. But for me, most of the time, it’s a place to indulge all the weird and wonderful behaviour that no one knows about. My solo living life or 'SSB' ('Secret Single Behaviour', as given to us by SATC) is not particularly chic. It’s not drinking martinis, listening to jazz, writing novels by candlelight and wafting around in a silk dressing gown. Instead, it tends to be scrambled eggs on toast, grisly crime podcasts, lying in bed until noon scrolling through Instagram and eating peanut butter with a spoon.
Here are a few of examples of how living alone has affected everyday situations, for better or worse.
Dating
I’m not hugely into dating at the moment so my flat is currently more of a friendly, monastic living space than a singleton sex pad. However, from what I have experienced, it is always fun to show off your place to someone and not worry about a disgruntled housemate next door. The only downside is that you and you alone are accountable for everything that exists in your space. That Disney DVD, the pile of unwashed dishes, hair in the plughole and Dairylea Dunker in the fridge? It’s all on you, mate. Every. Single. Thing.
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Heartbreak
Since moving in four years ago, I’ve had two big heartbreaks and a fair few dating disappointments. Following a recent break-up, I spent the first day alone watching joyful films and danced around my living room to Dusty Springfield. The next day I couldn’t stop crying or get out of bed. For the latter scenario my advice is: however low you feel, don’t be alone. Call someone who can whisper soothing words to you or better, come straight over and stroke your hair.
Hangovers
The worst part of a hangover is that horrible hour (or three) between being asleep and getting up. The bit where you just lie in your bed, dehydrated, your head thumping and morning-after paranoia circling your brain. If you manage the crawl to the kitchen, it’s unlikely you’ll find anything useful such as bread or ibuprofen because, guess what, YOU DIDN’T BUY ANYTHING. Not having a housemate to take pity on you and provide an ice cold drink and Hula Hoops when you’re at your lowest ebb is a sad, sad thing and one of the biggest downsides to living alone. One time a doting friend did send me a Deliveroo, though.
Security
If, like me, you enjoy the occasional serial killer Wikipedia binge or a disturbing podcast, living alone can somewhat heighten the senses and lead to ever so slightly irrational behaviour such as sleeping with the light on or stashing a hammer in your drawer. Regardless of your appetite for true crime, it’s very important to feel safe in your own home and I have an alarm and a memorised escape route. Stay safe, kids.
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Socialising
Staying in is one of the most wonderful gifts for us home-aloners. One weekend, I shunned all plans, watched nine hours of a war documentary and slept endlessly. I had three rounds of peanut butter toast for lunch and dinner and wore joggers the entire time. In fact, the first time I actually spoke for two days was to a barista at Pret when hoarsely asking for my Monday morning coffee. Lost weekends like these are one of the most restful and self-indulgent things a solo-habiter can do. Enjoy them, but be careful not to become one of those Mr Heckles types who stashes newspapers and twitches curtains.
Cleanliness
When I had a flatshare, house parties involved complete strangers jumping on my bed or friends throwing up in my sink and/or bath. Living alone (and being above 30), you tend to get ever so slightly more precious about your space and its contents. Dinner parties are fine if people keep red wine away from my carpet. Gatherings above seven people just don’t happen because I choose not to clean up half-empty tinnies on my own and with a hangover. I promise I’m not as mean-spirited as I sound, I just like my flat to look nice. Is that so bad?
Finances
For most of us, living alone is financially difficult and often impossible. Thoughts about daily overdraft fees regularly jolt me awake at 3am and there are certain things I can’t do or buy. However on the whole, I am lucky and I am very aware of that. Living alone means sacrifices, but from choosing to live this way I have become so much more independent and at ease in my own company. I like socialising but I no longer fear being alone, I crave it. A space doesn’t always define us, but if in that space you can do all the things you want, it is, in my opinion, completely worth it. Just remember to get some ibuprofen in.
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