You live alone?


One of the main questions I seem to be asked by people in South Africa when they hear where I work and what I do is: “But how do you live alone?” (That and: “What do you eat?” But I will address that in another post). I am always baffled by this question- there is no how in living alone. It’s just something that happens and occurs. To me, living alone should be inevitable at some point in a person’s life. There is honestly so much you miss out on if you never do. I don’t blame people for asking me this question after all, the community in which I grew up pressed upon us, from very young ages, that the only time you move away from your parents is when you get married. So when I announced (yes I announced) that I was moving out, no wait- leaving the country, actually the continent, to move to some place where I knew no one and live alone, it was the ‘live alone’ that brought about incredulous expressions.


But there is something so magical in living alone. I love coming home and knowing that I’m back in my cocoon and that for the next few hours I can do anything I please. Even as a young child, I played by myself for hours at a time, drawing, reading everything from the Enid Blyton novel I could lay my hands on to the Glamour magazine that I picked up on the way back from school. You see, I love my own company. I don’t mean that I’m anti-social or anything, all I’m saying is that after a day of work, or a long day out with friends, I really do look forward to being by myself. It energizes me. It relaxes me. It makes me happy.

Over the past year and a half, many of my married friends have talked about my life filled with freedom and independence. Yes, I can come and go as I please and I can even create a Mount Everest of laundry until Sir Edmund Hillary himself would have to cart it to the washing machine, I sometimes even resort to lying in bed all weekend. But that’s not really why living alone is so important to me. Living independently (even if briefly) is so liberating, in so many ways. It’s probably one of the best things that can happen to an individual.

Suddenly, there’s this deep contentment of turning the key in the front door every evening, closing it behind me, unwrapping a bar of chocolate and settling down to watch a favourite movie, read a book or just mindlessly surf the net. There’s a calm, a tranquil satisfaction in knowing that however busy and actively involved with little kids I may have to be all day, I’m free to enjoy my own company and my own space in a way that makes me happy.

So here are some reasons why living alone can be pretty fantastic:

  1. Being as messy or as clean as you want. These dirty exercise clothes in the corner, where did they come from? Why is there a plate with dried flakes of cheese on it in the sink that still hasn’t been washed? These questions are so much easier to answer when you live by yourself. So much less finger pointing. You can take that finger and proudly turn it right back around on yourself, my independent friend! YOU made the mess! SPLENDID! Do you feel like cleaning it up right away, possibly in your nastiest T-shirt? Leaving it to rot for hours, days, weeks? DOUBLE SPLENDID. You get to do that, my friend, because it’s your mess and no one is going to come home all grumpy and tired after a long day of teaching/financial advising/studying/auditioning and engage you in an argument about it.

2. Your kitchen is your temple. What this means is that if you are only feeding yourself, on those days you are exhausted to cook but too broke for a pizza, you can have a peanut butter sandwich and banana smoothie without feeling guilty that you didn’t cook for the other person. And there is no one to shoot you disapproving looks or tell you, “You can’t eat peanut butter for supper!”

3. Speaking of which: You will cook more. Yes it will happen and it’s a good thing. Did you catch that part where you’re sautéing onions? Like a Real Grown-Up might, in their Real Grown-Up Apartment? Yip, living alone, you will probably find that you cook more. Because finally, no parents are watching and judging your amateur chopping skills. Also, they’re not there to cook you supper 😦

This: Becomes this:

4. Yes, you will occasionally feel more lonely. You are living alone, after all. And you have been talking to yourself a lot lately. But what if that’s actually a good thing? Loneliness gets a bad rap in our society, mostly because with all our electronic pacifiers, we’re not used to spending time fully alone with ourselves. But as long as it’s not leading to major depression, it’s important to remember that being alone with yourself is important, even productive. If it makes you feel occasionally lonely, maybe that’s not actually a bad thing. Maybe that’s part of actually being human.

5. You can be an introvert, an extrovert or both. If you want your house to be party central it can be. If you enjoy entertaining at home, you can host a dinner party or throw a braai whenever you want. Living by yourself means that you can be as social or anti-social as you choose at any particular time. After a hard week at work or during a time of crisis sometimes facing people and their questions, even well meaning ones, can be exhausting. It’s wonderful to have a private sanctuary where you can relax and unwind.

6. No fighting over the remote, movie selection or anything else. You can watch what you want, when you want and if you want to change the channel on every ad break you can. You won’t be bothered by someone lounging on the couch watching sports all day (unless it’s you) or hogging the Playstation when you want to play Sims.

7. You can control your bills and spending. While you won’t have anyone paying half of the general bills (or not paying any bills at all thanks to nice parents), you will be more in charge of how you spend your money. Electricity left on all day, ridiculously long showers and exorbitant grocery bills all come out of your own pocket. And if nothing else, eventually you learn how to spend your money that is effective for you.

8. Spending a lot of time alone. And, like, really alone. When you live alone, you get solo time in both quality and quantity. I have always been a bit of a hermit, so I will admit that sometimes, living alone is a challenge for me because I have to force myself to socialize, but even that challenge has been good for my soul. I am a firm believer that loneliness gets a bad rap and living alone gives you the opportunity to really experience the benefits of solitude. When I’m upset, sad, happy, angry, whatever, I find myself feeling those emotions to the absolute fullest because I’m not worried about how my response is being viewed by anyone else in the room. I have learned to quiet my own anger, assure my own fear, celebrate my own joy, and soothe my own sadness. And that is really cool.

To be honest, while I love living by myself there is one small downside. It can be difficult when you get sick. Last year I woke up one morning to find that I couldn’t walk without falling over. It was a scary experience, which resulted in a rush to the emergency room of the local hospital. That being said, even if you live with others you can’t guarantee they will be there at your exact time of need. All anyone can do, regardless of their living situation is have someone close by they can call on for help.

So in a nutshell: there is nothing quite like pushing open to the door to your place and you hear it- the silence is transcendent. There is no one moving books around, leaving socks on floors, misplacing cutlery. No one dictates what time I eat or peeks through a door to catch me in the ungainly act of painting my nails; No one irritates while I sit at my desk which is where I should be-and want to be- writing. Unless I want it that way. Sometimes I spend time at Faraaz’s place or he spends time at mine. Of course it is always difficult when its time to leave. But- it is also always great to be home alone-at once comforting, liberating, exciting, even. What adventures await me here, in my own place, in the soft white whispers of my own private sanctuary, between my Macbook, my kitchen and my books and me?

There are days I scarcely leave my apartment. I don’t have to. I don’t want to. And that’s the end of it.

Living by yourself is ultimately about freedom, independence, knowing who you are and how to make yourself happy and fulfilled.

We’re born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we’re not alone.

-Orson Welles


131 thoughts on “You live alone?

  1. Aneesha I’m loving this, I am the exact same, I enjoy my own independence, company and freedom so much. The best thing about this blog was that it made me feel justified about it. Damn it if I wanna be a hermit I will!:) Thank you for liking my blog and thank you for this, I’ll be staying tuned:)

  2. I loved, loved, LOVED living alone. Mostly because I didn’t have to pick up after anyone else and my house was always clean. Sad that it was that important to me, isn’t it? Plus, I like solitude. I find it interesting that you got asked that question in South Africa so much. I wouldn’t know how to answer.

  3. I wholeheartedly concur on the benefits of living along … and I am an enthusiastic proponent of cooking – well – for one. Congratulations on being freshly pressed!

  4. Excellent! And you’re right, it’s great to be able to leave the dishes and laundry to pile up for days on end, because it’s equally great to get around to doing them eventually and seeing a nice, clean sink/empty laundry basket when you’ve finished 🙂

    • Unless your allowance will subsidize rent, then I don’t think so 😦 Living with a room mate now means that one day when you finally live alone, you will appreciate it so much more 🙂

  5. Very interesting and very true.
    I used to live alone for some time and had the same impressions – the sense of independency is brilliant, and actually, if your friends/family visit you often, you don’t really fell alone. And if you need to be alone, you just shut the door, watch movies, read books or spend time with yourself.

  6. Ahhh… terrifically fantastic to hear my own words and thought echoed back to me. It’s shocking how few people seem to understand/want the magnificence of living alone. Or are just afraid of who’ll they’ll meet. 🙂 Great post.

  7. Great post. Such awesome thoughts, all amazingly written! 🙂 Loved it. I’m someone who alternates between my love for solitude and for friends. There are times when I long to be by myself and find rejuvenation in it. So, I can understand what you mean when you say about the healing/energizing effect silence and solitude can have. 🙂 Makes me fall in love with the idea of living alone.

  8. I’m interested in your age… which I suspect is relatively young? The reason being that you are obvously enjoying living alone right now, but perhaps may change your mind and want company later on. I too live alone…but I am 66 years old and have been on my own for most of my life. I am mostly happy to be alone and very unlikely to change my single lifestyle at this age.

    • I am 23 so you’re right. Pretty young which is why I love living alone now 🙂 But I came from a big family and do want a big family later on in life so am just soaking up the solitude now.

  9. I was going to write about this and I started planning it out yesterday! Amazing timing. I agree with all of it and really nicely written 🙂 I think it’s funny how many people question women who enjoy living alone, or who want to do a lot of things on their own. It’s so satisfying knowing you feel completely comfortable in your own company. Well done on FP xx

  10. really loved reading this..eventhough I don’t live alone,I know how the freedom feels like coz I’ve experienced quite a lot of home alone experiences.. 🙂 have a great weekend ahead!! 🙂

  11. “I have learned to quiet my own anger, assure my own fear, celebrate my own joy, and soothe my own sadness. And that is really cool”: excellent point!
    I really enjoyed reading your post. I love my freedom too. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.

  12. As someone who has proudly lived alone for over 2 years now and probably will for the foreseeable future, I completely agree with you here. I went straight from high school to the military and thus was stuck with roommates, sometimes roommates not of my choosing, for 7 years, so I couldn’t wait to live alone. The loneliness gets to me sometimes, but usually it feels great. Especially on days off. Great post.

  13. Living alone can be the greatest thing and something you can never do later with the same effect. I did it for five years and the freedom was fantastic. Going to my girlfriends house seemed like going on holiday, and a big social as she shared with four others. It was like having a teenagers bedroom but with a whole house, brilliant.

  14. I spent about two years living alone, and I did like it – but it would get lonely sometimes (though I never felt guilty about those days I just didn’t feel like getting out of my pajamas). Although now, having roommates, I sometimes do miss having an empty house to go home to!

  15. Love this post! You perfectly captured all of the things I love about living alone…especially the part about having peanut butter for supper. I’ve definitely been there!

  16. It’s close to 9 months ( the lead time for anyone to come over into this planet by breathing and crying out ) that I have been alone, and only my dog for company. Would that count ?

  17. I love this! I get the same questions all the time, but the truth is, life alone is less complicated than living with a roommate. I don’t get upset if I leave dishes in the sink for a few days and no one is bothered if I bring guests over. It is more expensive, but let’s face it, it’s entirely worth it! 🙂

  18. My god, there’s a million reasons why living alone is best. I get plenty of social contact at work, and when I get home, if I want to sit at the piano for four hours, I do it. My stuff stays where I put it, cat permitting, and if I don’t feel like cooking I get a rice bowl at the take-out place downstairs and … don’t cook. If I do feel like cooking, well, my coworkers have benefited from my desire to bake cinnamon rolls, chocolate cakes, and gnocchi before. 🙂 I go to bed when I want, get up when I want, and it’s absolute bliss.

    I think left to their own devices, most people would live alone, really. Work satisfies the need for chatting and joking with friends, and then you get to have peace and quiet when you go home.

  19. Lovely post and I completly agree. I find myself wanting to be alone when I write. I think you discover more about yourself when yoy have time to be alone with your thoughts. 🙂

  20. I think it all concentrates finally on being in control, not judged by others, and not given advises you don’t really want to hear. Being the king of the castle…

  21. I’ve always wanted to live alone. Not that I hate my parents but I’ve always enjoyed spending time alone. Maybe after I graduate, or soon after I start to earn myself I will live alone.

  22. I”d like to thank you for writing this and getting it to grab my attention off the home page. Today is my first day of living alone and until now I was feeling rather down about it. This post has helped me see that its gonna get better even if my friends and family are now spread across the globe and I’m stuck in this apartment. So yeah, even though i’m sure it wasn’t your intention to cheer some random kid up and even if it was only coincidence that brought me here, thanks.

  23. I’m in the process of moving into my own one-bedroom apartment and I like that I found this post–totally sets me at ease! I was also just Freshly Pressed so it seems wordpress is on a roll 🙂
    ps. I love the Orson Welles quote at the end.

  24. Great read – I am so looking forward to that alone-ness… still living with my very home-body family means that there is NEVER time in which i am the sole occupyer of the house, and I miss that, so much.

  25. Heartily agree. The only roommate I have is my cat and we’re just fine. There’s cat hair everywhere, we watch movies at 5 a.m., and the dishes get cleaned on their own schedule. Being chatty and friendly during the day is all well and good, but once that key goes in the door at home? Done. No more talking. Being a couple certainly has its benefits, and I appreciate the friend who took care of me after a surgery, but living alone is all kinds of wonderful. Thanks for the dandy and delightful post. 🙂

  26. Loved this! I agree, everyone should live alone at some point in their lives. And I love the phrase “electronic pacifiers” – maybe enough to steal it for something 🙂

  27. I totally agree! I was such a baby before I got to move out and live by myself. now I can do everything by myself and I don’t get bummed out when I can’t get someone to drop whatever they are doing to cater to my whims. Lovely post btw

  28. As a single moslem South African female I can relate to everything you wrote. I’m leaving to teach English in Thialand in 3 months and cannot wait to be one my own without a myriad questions of when am i getting married and having kids. Well written.

  29. WONDERFUL! I am going to reblog (I think…have never done it yet). amazing that we have a huge age difference but yet such similar feelings on this very topic.

  30. You’re spot on about the cooking thing–I never learned to cook until I lived by myself, and now I hate to share my kitchen with anyone 🙂 This post also made me think of the book Party Of One by Anneli Rufus, a tribute to being alone. You should check it out if you can find it near you!

  31. I agree with everyone of your thoughts. I live alone as a human. I have two ferrets, Lydia and Steevee. They’re pretty invisible most of the time, but knowing they are there makes it a little less lonely. I used to have Shih Tzuhs and I miss having dogs. A dog is different. I also had cats. Dogs are different. People. Well, they’re O.K. for awhile, but then they tend to betray you, so being alone works out even better. I would add that there are no such things as friends, just people you know who may or may not hurt you. The only friend in your life is yourself and of course, in my case, The Creator. Treat her right and Nature becomes your friend. Anyway, I like your post.

  32. The best thing about living alone is not being able to blame anything (messes, broken stuff) on other people! I used to CONSTANTLY do that when I had a roommate and then when I moved out I caught myself doing it at the beginning. Now I know it’s really me who ripped the shower curtain!

  33. I’ve never lived alone. I’ve always lived with my family or had roommates but after a few crazy roommate experiences (one almost burnt down the apartment and single handedly destroyed the kitchen with all of us inside it), I don’t think it would be such a bad thing. I hope this living alone thing isn’t too far down the road for me! I think I’m going to enjoy the peace and quiet!

  34. In a nutshell you’ve defined every last thing that is beautiful and wonderful about living alone. I sometimes wonder if I can ever live with anyone else again. I would resent it so much. Love it, love it, love it.
    Even when there are times when I myself feel lonely, I never feel lonely because I’m living alone. That feeling would be there regardless.

  35. I love love love this article! You and I resonate on the same frequency! It is just me, my Macbook Pro, my endless books (as well as my Kindle), my oil paints, studio, & paint brushes, and my 3 furry beasts: a three-legged Bengal cat who talks incessantly, a morbidly obese silver tabby kitty, and a scary-intuitive Rat Terrier dog in San Francisco. I have lived with partners and lived alone and frankly….living alone is where it is at for me at this stage in my life….and has been for over five years. I have learned so many valuable lessons in the journey of independence, self-sufficiency, and self-soothing. Thank you for sharing such a lovely post. Nice writing and great pictures!

  36. This is absolute GENIUS! Completely agree with EVERYTHING! I LOVE living alone right now, but there is nothing worse than being sick, and you half to attempt to fend for yourself. Genius genius genius!

  37. I live alone and I love everything about it. There’s nothing better than being able to do whatever you want and not be forced to do things you don’t want to do. I can’t imagine having somebody else live with me.

  38. Got so excited reading your post, very well-written as well! I’m from South Africa too, but was fortunate enough to be from a family that financially supported me to leave home when I was 18 years old. The freedom was such a thrill, I didn’t return for even a visit for the first few months. I’ve been living alone both in SA and overseas for years, and I’ve traveled a bunch of countries woman-alone. I love the independence that you learn along the way and it makes you appreciate your time with others even more. I totally agree with it that every person should live alone at some period in their lives!

  39. This is one of the best posts I’ve seen on Freshly Pressed!

    Living alone was one of the most important lessons in my life and I would do it again. I found my personal cleanliness level and what I REALLY do with my spare time. It has some more definite ups:
    1. Walking around in your underwear
    2. Going to the toilet with the door open
    3. Singing for the neighbours (who you only hope aren’t home)

    The words tranquil and transcendent perfectly describe it.

  40. I absolutely agree with your article! I certainly enjoy living alone, and feel wonderfully freed by it. After several years of living with someone else, and having to put their needs first, it’s soooo nice to know that I’ve only got myself to please, and that I won’t be judged for what I eat, or read, or watch on telly. One of the greatest gifts I’ve been given through living alone is learning about myself . . . it’s nice to feel “at home” with my identity again 🙂

  41. I am totally agree with you… I also living alone, and I love it !! well, feel lonely it’s so true.. and I love that quote , “We’d be perfect together, because we both like being alone” 😀

  42. I live away from my family now and have a bittersweet relationship with my “living alone” status.
    Anyway,all the things you’ve said in your post are so true and well-written.A sense of humor to admire!!!
    Congratulations on being freshly pressed!!!!

  43. I love living alone. When I moved to a new country, I was living alone. Although it was a bit difficult because I had a hard time finding a job and I ended up asking my friend to move in with me to share with my bills. But anyway, I left home for university at the age of 15 and since then I’ve been living alone and I really, really love it. But now that I have found someone to live the rest of my life with, I no longer wish living alone. But it was a wonderful experience. 🙂

  44. ~ great read, huh! 🙂 living alone is rewarding and liberating, too! at first, i thought i wud not make it but now it feels completely normal. And, the bonus part was we could finally say that we can do things on our own, right? We did it! Btw, this is my first time living alone, away from my country. Cheers to u and more power!

  45. LOVE this post! I’ve lived alone before, and miss it so much (couldn’t afford the rent and bills on my own unfortunately). Now I live with three busy housemates so thankfully have the place to myself most days – best of both worlds 🙂 You’re right, there are so many upsides to living alone. I think everyone should do it for a bit, just to see.

  46. Thank you for this post. I moved to a different country two months ago and I still have yet to adjust to living alone. This post was definitely helpful as it truly made me think of the perks of having my own place.

  47. i totally envy you aneesa for this..!!! even though Iam happily married.. but in certain times i feel the need for personal space for myself my own so called “den”.sometimes i feel like running out of the house with out informing anyone.. but then.. i have my son.. i have my responsiblity..!!! Njoy your life to the core.. live every moment.. (PS: i know no need to say.. u r doing it to t max). :):)

  48. Hey there! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a group of volunteers and starting a new project in a community in the same niche. Your blog provided us useful information to work on. You have done a extraordinary job!

  49. I think it’s OK if I say that this is the best blog I have ever read. I’m a newbie at blogging.. but I read a lot. And can I just say that I could relate to this post so well!
    It’s like you know me! Also couldn’t help noticing the names Aneesa and Faraaz. They sound like names from this side of the world. 🙂
    Reblogging at
    with comment :
    ^I think this person knows me.

  50. I have actually never lived alone, have always had roommates. But your post certainly brings up good points and I Can see myself being a little more open to it now! 🙂 Thanks for sharing, and congrats on FP!

  51. I lived alone for many, many (ok, that’s enough) years, before I finally got married (recently). I loved living alone. I love being married. Each have their own pro’s and cons. I didn’t, however, cook more. I cook more now, which is just terrifying. It had never occurred to me to wonder what was for dinner in the middle of the morning but, apparently, husbands think that’s a great question.

  52. Pingback: The Perks of Spending Time Alone, or, Why I Don’t Mind My Own Company « tasty adventures

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