I’ve been living alone for the first time in my life for nearly a year now. I’m 31 years old. I’d never had my own place before. Never signed official papers by myself. Never paid a bill on my own (on time). Never made decorative decisions with just me and no one else’s tastes to consider. Never hogged the remote all night and watched sappy hospital dramas till it was much too late and I should have gone to bed hours before. Never had my own space.
But now I have that. And I’ve had it for a year.
Let me clarify something first; It’s not entirely “my” space, in reality. My son lives with me 80% of the time, his room is down the hall from mine and this is as much his place as it is mine. But he’s also only 3 years old, so all the stuff I just mentioned above, he has very little input or say about it (save for the sappy hospital dramas which I am already banned from putting on while he’s awake… he’s very opinionated on such things already — I’m in trouble).
This space that’s my own, I love it more than I thought I would and hate it in a way that makes me wonder if maybe I’m just not meant to be on my own. Now, that’s not to say I’m about to shack up with anyone or make sure someone is here to keep me company at all times because God forbid I be alone — no, I’ve come to embrace my solitude and all the things that make me uncomfortable about it so that when I am in someone’s company I truly appreciate it that much more, but it doesn’t mean I have to love every moment.
This is my space, my condo, my dwelling; and I still get scared. A few moments before sitting down to write this piece I was making my final rounds, turning off lights, checking on cats, stepping on random Hot Wheels left in the hallway and simultaneously cursing and smiling, and I accidentally shut off a light that plunged me in near darkness and a millisecond of panic ensued.
I’m a massive chicken. I scare incredibly easily. I believe in a lot of sh*t I shouldn’t, and my imagination murders my sensibility — always. I grew up reading every gory, horror-ridden, thriller book I could get my hands on (much to my mother’s horror and frustration). I love reading all of that stuff. But put me in a real-life situation akin to those books? Um, no. My absolute nightmare.
And so, standing in a nearly pitch-black hallway in my own place of residence where I know full well nothing is lurking to kill or maim me and I still freak out. Every. Single. Time. My finger couldn’t get back to the light switch fast enough, and I very audibly let out a sigh of relief once the light was back on.
Reason not meant to be alone #65: Check.
Dark hallways and never hanging my foot over the edge of the bed while I sleep aside, dealing with all the responsibilities of living alone are almost as scary. From overdue bills to groceries, endless laundry (thank-you 3-year-old boy who seems to wear more than he eats/plays with), taking out the trash/recycling, washing floors, cleaning the toilet; it never ends. Ever. And while Owen is helpful on occasion, that helpfulness is limited to carrying a lough of bread up four flights of stairs to our condo or perhaps (finally) picking up all his cars from the hallway before bed.
And while I may have taken on the brunt of most of what I mentioned above when I was actually living with someone (and married to that someone), I never felt the way I did about it now. There was always the chance that if I didn’t do something, he would. If I forgot something for a few days or straight up told him I didn’t want to do something (which I never did, but that’s a topic for another blog) then it would eventually get done. But now? If I don’t feel like doing the dishes now or for the next 10-12 days then they are still going to be there 10-12 days down the road. Trust me.
Living alone is scary on a number of levels, and I’m aware of that every single day I’m by myself.
I tip my hat (if I were ever to wear one, which is a horrible sight to see… trust me) to all of you who do it in your 20s or even earlier. You are all rock stars in my mind. You’re strong. Courageous. Adventurous, and driven. Sure, it might not work out but you did it. You ventured out. You took that leap and did your best to land on your feet. And you did it without the experience, knowledge or past experiences of those older than you. I am in awe.
I’m in my 30s now, and living in my own place for the first time, ever. I feel like I should be 21. I have all the angst and uncertainty of someone much younger coupled with a resounding sense of actually knowing what’s right and wrong (because I’ve been there, done that). It’s an odd place to find myself. I fee like I should know better when I actually know absolutely nothing at all. It’s a mixed bag of everything good and bad. It’s liberating and encapsulating all at once.
But I’m happy.
I wouldn’t change my living situation (at the moment) for anything. I love my condo. I love the colours I chose, the furniture I have, the wall decals, the pillows, the pictures my father hung (because, let’s be honest, living on my own for the first time at 31, you think I can hang a picture solo?), even my towels and placemats. They’re me. They represent who I am. This is truly my space.
Finding your own space, even if it’s just a corner in a room, is so important. Over the past year or so I’ve come to learn a lot about myself, and this has been a significant discovery. When I lived in the house with my ex-husband, I never had my own space. Eventually, he ended up having the basement as we converted it to a gym. He’d spend a great deal of time down there. I had nothing. I had no specific area that was mine, nothing that was “Miranda.” I’d waffle and wain between the living room and the bedroom when I was relaxing or in a bad mood, but no space was every truly mine. I think that had a huge impact on how I evolved in our relationship, and even how I evolved as a person.
When I do live with someone again (and I’m fully confident I will), I will make sure I have my own space, and my own voice in everything we do regarding the place of dwelling. Where we live is about more than a bed and a toilet. Where we live is about our personal relationships, our connections, our down time, our comfort zones.
Don’t ever give up your own personal comfort zone just because you think it will make the other person uncomfortable. It should, it’s not their personal space.