What I Learned From Living Alone

Apr 22, 2022

Natalie pictured at the center of the image in her first apartment in Imsil, South Korea.

The idea of living alone, I think, is much more enticing than the actual journey can feel at any one particular moment. However, one thing’s for certain; at the end of that journey, we’ll probably look back and see the undeniable positive and learning opportunities living alone offers us.

It’s no secret that being alone and independent comes with major responsibilities, each new task coming with its own set of challenges. However, what many people don’t think about when entering this new chapter is that it’s catered to be the perfect space for things to get u.g.l.y. What can happen on the inside has all the potential to become its own monster, ready to destruct and evidently, teach. 

Living alone was one of the greatest journeys I have ever experienced. There are some things people just can’t give you that being alone can. And despite its potential for ugliness, it’s perhaps the warmest embrace we can encounter. I love having the freedom of being on my own; not having to answer to anyone or chime anyone in about my whereabouts. A lovely annoyance that comes with living with parents. 

It’s quite funny and almost ironic because the time you have the most responsibility, such as literal survival, it’s also queue for the most irresponsible self. Sweater on the floor, I see you, but I just don’t care to be bothered with you right now, you can wait. Dirty dishes, they can wait too. Accidentally left the music on loud enough to disturb the neighbors while I passed out for 5 hours at 11 pm, whoops. Wait, no whoops! No cricket to object is a call for a happy peaceful being. And that’s all great no doubt, but this freedom as is any comes with a hefty price.

Personal Challenges: 

Living alone forces you to be alone. That’s it. Now when I think of it and process this it’s almost funny how true and “ha” in your face that statement is. We can have our own room at our parents’ house or even when we’re away at college, but we are always expected to come out of that nest and put/force a smile when we least want to. The last thing I ever wanted to do was be sad or crying and come out of my room for dinner and have anyone ask me what is wrong. So, in that sense, I always had the “I’m fine” mask up my sleeve ready to use to halt anyone from trying to dig deeper for answers to my demolishing emotional state. Another challenge I was faced with when first living alone was having just gotten out of a toxic and emotionally abusive relationship. Yes, one day after separating I moved away. It was freeing and a lot of growing up all at once. All while navigating how to personally heal while trying to thrive. 

My experience:

I enjoy my solitude, but even this isn’t enough to escape my own monster. And for some, being alone for every meal and time of day from morning to night can seem like a death sentence. No companion animal to ease the tension of silence. We are forced to not only be physically alone but mentally and emotionally alone as well. If we’re lucky we have good friends or family to check up on us, but that’s more of a luxury for some and quite minimal for what a lonely individual needs. For me, I was alone for the first time in a foreign country, Korea. So, I was not only physically deserted in a small rural town with no friendly face or common language at arm’s reach. If I wanted to get out and meet with friends who also spoke English I had to travel alone for 30-40 minutes (one way) on public transportation. And dealing with the emotional rollercoaster of healing after having just broken up with my first longtime boyfriend, filling the silent void was what I committed my energy to. Soon enough after beginning this new journey, I made it a mission to travel out as much as I could because I learned my “lonely” cap to be 2 full days. This is definitely not a complaint. I traveled and enjoyed the company of new friends, something I will soon learn to embrace as a normal way of life. A deprivation I experienced in my previous chapter.

Through this journey, I was forced to learn how to enjoy and embrace my own presence and thoughts even though they weren’t always welcomed. I learned and developed some hobbies that were only a previous thought and nothing I ever dedicated much time and energy to before or with the distraction of roommates or family members. I was forced to learn a routine that satisfied MY needs. This isn’t always a clear painted picture and alone is its own process of fuck ups and shit nights usually learned through trial and error. It’s hard to envision ourselves not knowing what we want or what truly satisfies us as it’s previously been worked around our shared environment. This is something that I didn’t really think about before acknowledging this new chapter.

Natalie pictured at the center of the image in her first apartment in Imsil, South Korea.

I thought I perceived myself as a person who was confident in her ways. Confident in her beliefs and in her personality. I could be very stubborn in things I believe in. It’s the Taurus in me. After having that foundation of self-awareness shaken down, it was challenging to find my voice again in a way that felt authentic and wasn’t catering to anyone’s needs. Living around new spaces and individuals who I deemed compatible with me or not was a new and exciting platform to unravel myself. But the effects of loneliness can unravel and show you what you are capable of, and what you are not. I learned about my flaws and had the space to dig deeper into them. This entire experience forced me to look at my flaws, fears, shame, and everything in between straight in the eyes with nowhere or no one to hide behind. It was a lonely experience. There were many moments or nights I’d be alone with sad music, filling the empty spaces on the walls of my apartment and mind. I drank a lot. I began smoking alone on my veranda to ease the anxiety. The body always remembers. I’d be forced to write about my thoughts after replaying them over and over in my mind. I’d cry from remembering past losses, heartaches, moments where things went wrong and why? I was alone with thoughts of self-blame from past events. No one was there to help me think otherwise. Everything I worked so hard to shy away from and keep hidden deep in my unconscious mind was unwillingly seeping out on almost every lonely night and I was forced to deal with them as coldly and honestly as it had to be. That wasn’t easy, and through these experiences, I discovered realities about myself that weren’t pretty or desirable. However, it was something that needed to happen in order to experience personal growth and chisel me into who I was meant to become. Although cold nights were the hardest, they’re the ones that have left the deepest memories in my heart. 

What’s worse than being trapped with unhappy thoughts of yourself in a room where not even your thickest blankets can stop the cold from biting your bones and soul? Now, there’s a journey we can look back at and be so grateful for coming out alive of. 

It’s our journey. 

Whatever my journey was, it was one of the most rewarding and life-fulfilling experiences I’ve had the privilege to take part in. I can’t stress enough the gruesome realities you face when you have the time and space to truly unravel your most suppressed truths. It’s been the most enticing and rewarding journey to date. No amount of countries or adventures can match up to your own internal and external freedom.

So, to this, I cheers you for taking that leap of faith to the deepest parts of your soul. Hoping to see a more refined version of yourself at the end of the tunnel, whatever that journey looks like. Just know: you’re not done yet. Possibly never will be. And that’s okay (clinking glasses).

Author

Author

Natalie Amezcua

Natalie (she/her/hers) is a humane educator and solutionary writer living in Los Angeles.

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Natalie is the author of sonatsays – blog. She is a solutionary thinker, dog mom, writer, and advocate for animal protection, environmental conservation, and human rights. Natalie has recently moved to her hometown of Los Angeles after living in Asia for several years to focus on her studies.

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