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Riding Solo: Learning to Live and Be Alone

Living alone is hard. So hard, sometimes I feel like I can’t do it anymore.

I’ve never been by myself for a long period of time before. Growing up, I always shared a room with my brother or sister. In college, I had roommates and the best friends anyone could ask for. Before that, I tried to keep myself surrounded by others at all times, even if they weren’t necessarily my friends.

But now I live alone. And it sucks.

To an extent.

There are too many reasons to count why I love living alone; the freedom to clean/not clean, cook/not cook, blast music, dance around the house, eat ice cream for breakfast (I’ve actually done that). Who wants to play video games till 2 a.m? I do! Who goes to bed at 9:30 because she’s tired? Oh, pick me! I can set my own routine, go exploring, and do what I please without anyone holding me back. Riding solo, I can do so many more things, and living a life full of new experiences is the kind of life I want to live.

But there’s one thing that takes all those positives and neutralizes them: I’m lonely. And it’s embarrassing and childish to say, but I really am.

I try to involve myself in as many things I can to avoid my solitary life. I’m in two bands and the captain of an increasingly failing trivia team. I go for runs twice a week and fill my weekends with friends, brews, and adventure. But none of that matters. When I get home from a great day and sit in the silence of my apartment, I feel the dread grip my chest. The moment people leave me, I’m lonely. It’s instant. My chest seizes and flutters and I start to get nervous. I didn’t know I could have such a reaction to emotion; my loneliness physically pains me.

But I’m the ultimate optimist! You don’t think I’d just talk about how I’m sad, do you? I think I’m dealing with being alone surprisingly well. My PlayStation 4 is my saving grace; being able to interact with something and get a response is really important to me, so games keep the edge off. Social media also helps! Sometimes I’m out by myself and I see something amazing. Instinctually, I turn to the person with me, but no one is there. So I take out my phone, snap a pic, and post it! My Instagram is becoming more important than I thought it’d be. I know it may seem shallow, but I like sharing my experiences. Shouting into the void makes me feel better.

There’s also a lot of fun things you can do alone; I read more, watch anime, arrange music, started this blog. It’s not about fighting the loneliness, but learning how to occupy yourself in the time you have alone. It forces me to try and make new friends, check out new hiking spots, and walk to the store! I built my first Gundam model, beat Persona 5, and frequent the public library. Did I mention I started a blog? My time alone has given me so much, I try not to dwell on the loneliness.

And yes, even with all this, I still get the uncomfortable feeling in my chest and the tears burning my eyes. Life is hard, but life is also great. The price of freedom seems to be loneliness at times... what an equivalent exchange. But my life has so many high points that the only thing I can do is embrace the lows and wait for them to pass.

By next February, my lease will be up so I’ll have the opportunity to move. I still don’t know if I will…or if I will get a roommate. There is something special and liberating about living alone that I want to hold on to. And who knows? I could a world away by February. I just have to wait and see!

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