In February of 2014 I moved out of a home I had purchased and shared with my then boyfriend when I was eighteen. Up until I got that first apartment in Lakewood I had never lived alone. Its been just under three years now but it didn’t take me long to realize that living alone isn’t really my favorite. Don’t get my wrong, I’m obviously much happier now and in no way, shape or form do I regret moving… but that doesn’t mean that every moment in my apartment is a no pants dance party with my dog where I drink copious amounts of Dr. Pepper and sing at the top of my lungs or pretend I’m a really awesome rapper. (Most moments are though…) Sometimes this place feels foreign, and cut off from the world. It’s easy to miss the feeling of having someone nearby, in another room doing their own thing.
I’ve had this post in my drafts for over a year now, and it almost seems funny to post this considering my situation is about to change. Ahem. More on this soon, obviously. But judging from the response to my “just me, in my element” post from October there are a lot of you out there who might be in the same boat I was in a few years ago. Starting over by yourself, and living alone is a strange adjustment when it’s something you’ve never done before. I thought it might be helpful to share some things that help make living alone not so bad, some of the things that make my apartment feel cozy and like home. It’s also nice for me to write these things down because when I’m in a tizzy I tend to forget about the simple things, which are often the most helpful.
▴ Lights on! I’m huge on natural light. Like a flower, I open up in the sunshine. Evenings and nights are when I struggle the most with living alone, especially in the winter when it gets dark so early. I’ve found that when I have lamps on I’m less prone to get in a funk. I almost never use my ceiling lights, lamps are where it’s at. There’s just something really cozy about the light they put off, it feels like home to me.
Also, game changer – Christmas lights strung from the ceiling all year round! I’m pretty sure those will be a staple in every living room from here on out. Seriously, give it a try!
▴ Clean up! Cleaning my apartment helps whenever I’m feeling down for two reasons.
- It gets my mind off the fact I’m bummed out. I’m a busy body, I really am happiest when I have something to do.
- A clean home is a happy home. I never really feel at ease when there is a mess. It’s not always so easy to get started but
it’s always worth it. Get those dishes out of the sink, if you’re lucky
enough to have a washer and dryer get caught up on laundry, change your
sheets. Maybe you’ll never enjoy doing these tasks but they’re
definitely rewarding. Seriously, is there anything nicer than curling up in a fresh bed!?
▴ Adopt a pet. Finding an apartment that allows pets is honestly stupid hard but never for a second would I consider not having my critters with me. Klaus, Professor, and Squid are LIFESAVERS. I honestly have no idea how anyone doesn’t have pets. They’re so much company, and they always seem to know when you need a little extra love.
▴ Take a hike! Or ya know, just get out of the dang house! When I moved into my first apartment I felt isolated. I found it very easy to just hang out in my apartment… practically all the time. Staying home is nice but you gotta get outside and smell the fresh air, or you’ll go nuts. Explore your neighborhood, walk in the alleys you’ve never ventured through, go to the beach, go to the coffee shop, browse Target, just get out! I’ve found that the time I least want to leave is probably when I need to go the most.
In the past six months coffee shops have been my salvation. Being around people yet being left alone is perfect my jam! I don’t know why I haven’t been hanging out at coffee shops all my life.
▴ Bring the outside in. Open your windows whenever possible. Its such a weird thing to mention but there are few things that make me feel as at peace as a clean house with a breeze blowing in. I think I got this from my mom who immediately after getting home always opens the windows. She calls the way a house smells when it’s all closed up “house-itosis”. You know, like halitosis but for your house.
And plants! I don’t think I need to remind y’all how much I love plants and just how happy they make me. I even have a hashtag over on instagram for my collection – #kaylahheartsplants. But did you know that houseplants are good for your health? Google it, then head to the store because now you have a solid excuse buy a few. You’re welcome.
▴ Light some candles! I basically always have candles burning, one in each room of my apartment! There are two main reasons I became a crazy candle lady…
- They make your apartment smell good, duh! You can’t have house-itosis. I had a repair man here a few weeks
ago who asked what I was baking because it smelled so delicious.
It was just a candle!
- They add more light, not a ton but that cozy amount. There is something really relaxing about candles burning, especially in the evening.
TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and Home Goods are all excellent places to look for inexpensive candles that smell nice. You basically can’t beat their price/quality ratio! If you prefer to shop online, I’ve got three favorites to share with you – P. F. Candle Co., Candelles, and Weird Beard Candle Co.
▴ Make dinner! I lived alone for around a year and half where I basically had no idea how to cook anything outside of mac and cheese, and pepperoni rolls. Cooking wasn’t something I was interested in at all. I was perfectly happy with my crappy diet…or so I thought. I randomly caught the urge to cook and it makes living alone one million times more enjoyable. I’m not saying you need to be the next… uh, famous chef (crap! I don’t know any…except Guy Fieri and I hope you are the next Guy Fieri because I love him.) but knowing how to cook a few quick tasty meals is essential. A few of my go to meals are stuffed peppers, chili, and oven roasted broccoli. They’re not fancy but their aroma fills my apartment and that’s comforting for me.
Shortly after moving I got an email from a reader basically just sending encouragement. She said something about how she had went through a similar experience and that the short time she lived alone before marrying was some of the best in her life. It got me thinking about how many people never really get the opportunity to live alone. Family, then roommates, then significant others. While it’s not my favorite, it really does force you to learn about yourself, and learn to do things for yourself which is awesome. I guess I just wasn’t aware how strange and sometimes difficult it can be to be stuck alone with yourself. It definitely took me by surprise since I’m not even a people person, I cherish my alone time.
This is one of those posts that feels so personal that it makes me a little nervous to hit publish. I’ve identified these as things that have helped ground me. Yours may not be the same. Shoot, some of these may even stress you out but hopefully it’ll get you thinking about what helps ground you.