Problems People Living Alone Will Understand

Since my late teens, I’ve always known I wanted to live by myself for at least a year. Being a burden is not something I ever want to be and it’s something I often felt like I was as a child. I think that’s where this idea was born. I also considered personal achievement. If I never lived by myself, how would I know I could survive by myself? This idea strengthened in college. I had friends whose parents lived together though they weren’t happy and would probably prefer a divorce. Unfortunately, they had become financially dependent on each other, so they stayed together. I never want that to be me. That’s not good for either party, friends or lovers. No one wants to exist close to someone knowing the only reason they stick around is because they financially couldn’t make it without you. Especially when it comes to a life partner, I never want the reason I stay to be money.

I never want to settle because I’m afraid of living on my own. So, here I am. I’ve lived on my own for over a year now. For me, personally, it has come with three tiny issues I never expected to be a big deal. Let’s start with the least harmful and most disgusting.

Spiders

These fugly little creatures are the bane of my existence. Living in a garden level apartment with a lake in the back yard, I am guaranteed to see these guys crawling around. No amount of cleanliness (that I may or may not stay on top of) can stop these guys from appearing.

Being short, these guys are a special nuisance. It’s like they know I’m short. Even using my step stool, I can’t reach them when they are high on the wall or on the ceiling. Then, I discovered the tool every person living on their own needs to own: a Swiffer Sweeper. No creepy, crawly, ugly thing can get past me now! In fact, I’ve become a little spoiled. Even when a spider is  close enough for me to touch, I never get closer than the length of my Swiffer. That thing is a godsend.

Stalkers

I never thought I’d actually deal with a peeping Tom while living on my own. I’m not much to look at as it is. Nevertheless, earlier this year, I woke up to see a man staring at me through my bedroom window. So many thoughts rush through your head after that experience. What was he looking for? Was he looking for me or looking for something to steal? How often has he stared at me? What has he seen?

This photo, “Stalker Kitteh. VTda.info” is copyright (c) 2014 vtdainfo and made available under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license.. The image was cropped to create the featured image.
This photo, “Stalker Kitteh. VTda.info” is copyright (c) 2014 vtdainfo and made available under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license.. The image was cropped to create the featured image.

Here’s something I want everyone to know, but especially women. Call 911 if you have even a suspicion of malicious activity. Once I noticed him and the guy ran away, I thought I was no longer in an emergency. My life wasn’t in danger. I called the local police number but I should have called 911 right away. The officer who came told me people call 911 when they lock their keys in their car. I guess you can call 911 for any problem and they go from there. Just don’t call and hang up without saying anything.

Don’t forget your keys! I know this is a thing girls are often told, but I think it’s important for men as well. When walking in the dark, keep your keys in your hand to use as a quick weapon. When you live alone, there’s not always someone to notice if something happens. There’s no one to worry when you don’t come home.

This actually brings me to my last, and most frustrating issue when living alone

Paranoia

Can anyone live on their own without becoming a little paranoid? I’ve done a lot of crazy things just out of extra nervousness. I’ve slept with lights on and currently I keep my sword right next to my bed. Who cares if I know how to use it. At the very least, it makes for a good club. I’ve laid in bed, come close to falling asleep, only to let the thought of my locks wake me up. Sometimes, the worry is so great I get out of bed to double check my doors are locked.

The same thing happens when I leave my apartment. Did I turn off the stove? Are my doors locked? I have actually driven away from my apartment for a few blocks, only to turn around and double check everything is locked up.

You become more suspicious living on your own because you know you are your only defense should anything go wrong. Sure, there are people you can call for help, but you’re on your own until they arrive.


Having been on my own for over a year, I think I’m done. I’d much rather live with a partner or roommate than by self in the future. That said, I am extremely happy I lived on my own for a period of time. The spiders and paranoia aren’t great and I’m sure there are other risks I haven’t even considered, but I know I can do it. If something happens to my partner or if I am ever in a situation where I must live by myself again, I know I can. It’s a big deal to me. It means that, no matter where I am in life, I always have some extra independence. So long as I have my Swiffer Sweeper and a sword, no one can stop me!

Have you ever lived by yourself before? What did you learn? Do you think living by yourself poses different challenges depending on your gender? What advice would you give to someone living by themself today?

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38 thoughts on “Problems People Living Alone Will Understand”

  1. Hi,
    I can’t help you with the spiders, but I can make a suggestion regarding stalkers and paranoia – Consider adopting one of my relatives. A Doberman, a German Shepard, or any canine that you love, will return that love unconditionally and provide you with protection, confidence, and a sense of well-being you say you don’t have now. Hope you find all three.
    Sandy

    1. That’s not an option where I am, but I will be moving in with my boyfriend soon, so I’ll be fine. I don’t have the time or space necessary for a dog right now…. maybe a cat ^_^

  2. When I first lived alone I was told I should exchange the lock of my apartment door first thing, so nobody who held an old key copy would be able to break in on me. I never did and never had any trouble with that.
    Spiders were a problem sometimes, but my husband (then fiancé) came over once in a while and would get rid of the occasional huge monster.
    The only real problem I’ve encountered so far (even now that I don’t live alone anymore) are guys trying to follow me home.
    I try to be mentally prepared when walking alone in the dark, and learning a martial art makes me feel better. I never heard of the key between the fingers trick, but I’ll keep it in mind; though usually I prefer to keep my hands free.

    1. I don’t think I’ve ever had people follow me home, but I’ve had guys who appeared to look at me suspiciously. Sometimes, I would make a point to stay a little longer in my car to try and determine if it was safe to get out. There’s a locked door to get into my complex which uses a different key than the one to get into my apartment. When I see people loitering right by the door, I wonder if they are just waiting for someone else to let them in. They could buzz the apartment to have people let them in if they wanted. 9 times out of 10, that person will enter the apartment if I enter. Those are situations where I lock my door as soon as I get into my apartment and peek through the little peek hole in the door to see what the guy does. Usually nothing, but you just never know.

  3. You’ve fulfilled a dream that I’ve always wanted. I got pregnant and married right out of college and have never lived by myself–other than as a divorced mom with two young children to raise alone (not something I would recommend, as it sucks!)
    I’ve been very happily married for the past 13 years and love sharing a home with my husband. I think you are a very intelligent young woman, and extremely smart to do your year on your own. Now you know exactly what you want and you know your strength and level of independence. You also know that a Swiffer is good for more than just dust!! 😉

    1. Exactly. I’m amazed at how many people won’t live on their own. My boyfriend never has. I remember his sister-in-law, who got married during college, once remarked to me that she didn’t think she could do it. But I’ve always been more of an independent person. I like my space. I’m almost worried about moving in with my boyfriend because we are both like that. Will we give each other enough space? Well, I guess it’s better to find out now than after a wedding ^_^

  4. Great post! I get pretty much everything, the spiders, the stalkers, the paranoia, but I have to ask: you actually have a sword handy? You impressed me!

    Seriously, though, I loved you post, so keep writing! As for living alone, I haven’t for the last 25 years and I must say, I enjoy the company. But I know that I could live on my own, even though I would find it tough.

    1. YES I have a sword and I fenced for three years. All those intruders better watch out! ^_^

      I think, especially after I start living with someone again, I will prefer that over living alone. I just needed to do it once. Logically, I’ve always been able to live on my own, but now I have proof. I don’t need to fear it and/or let that fear prevent me from escaping a situation I need to get away from.

  5. Yes! Currently living on my own, and I love it. Since I have been without my dog in my apartment for over a week, I am learning that I do much better with a furry friend – can’t wait to get her back! (She is with my mom and stepdad currently). I also get paranoid about whether or not I lock my door and/or left the oven on, etc. I feel ya! And probably on the gender question. If I were a guy, I doubt worrying about stalkers would keep me up at night. I tend to spend too much time to myself, so I would advise someone living on their own to socialize more.

    1. I’m not really sure. I mean, is a guy living alone any less likely to get robbed. And while assaults and such are scary, it’s probably more likely something would happen due to a stove being left on than that. Thank God for MeetUp.com, though. I’d have no social life without it.

  6. Spiders are actually beneficial, especially if you’ve got Mosquitos in the area which is likely if there’s water nearby. 🙂 At least here in Sweden where we don’t have any venomous spiders.

    I’ve always had trouble sleeping when it is too bright outside since I’m somewhat nocturnal (especially in the summer when it almost doesn’t get dark at all). Investing in a pair of great curtains blocks out sunlight and prying eyes.

    1. I accept that spiders and bugs are a part of life. They are in my apartment no matter how clean I keep it. My truce is that they may live if they stay out of sight. I see them, they die. End of stories.

      Curtains will probably happen in the future. For now, I hung a large blanket over my window, keeping it there with thumbtacks in the wall

  7. I’ve lived alone for the last few years, and find it quite liberating. I’m a very eccentric person (odd hours and a wikipedia addiction being just two such features), and have some health problems that others don’t understand very well (fibromyalgia), so living with other people is a big challenge for me. Not having to put up with other people’s opinions about my living space is essential for my well-being.

    That said, I’ve had to deal with issues like the ones you mentioned. I do, in fact, have a real galdius (coldsteel.com) that I keep by my front door, and know how to use (fencing classes!). I even carry it when I walk alone at night–which is legal in many parts of the country, including here in Northern California. In my last place, I had wolf spiders that got to be the size of silver dollars–but they’re basically harmless, so I used inanimate objects to place them outside unless there got to be too many of them. (Sorry, little guys, but bug spray is always an option…) I’ve had stuff stolen from my front yard, and had people come to my door and try to scam me…then try to enter after I told him I wasn’t interested. The cops couldn’t replace my stolen property, but they did run the scammer off with a stern talking-to. In the end, though, living alone means relying on one’s self. I highly recommend learning an EFFECTIVE style of martial arts. If they give you a belt without you feeling like you’re about to die from exertion, then you’re probably not being trained very well. Kyokyushinkai is a good style (if you don’t mind most of the techniques being lethal), as is Jujitsu (perhaps more practical in a modern society).

    One great side-note of living alone (and not having the cash to eat out much) is that I became a pretty darned good cook in a pretty short period of time. One learns quickly that if one wants to eat good food regularly, then one must learn to cook it. This is a highly marketable skill–both financially and socially. 😉

    1. I really should take some kind of self defense class. It also seems a little crazy, though. Why should I feel obligated to do that? I guess safety is safety but I’m too busy to fit any classes like that in at the moment. Having a place to yourself is definitely liberating, though. I’m happy I have this experience.

      1. Feeling obligated isn’t really how I would look at it. For me, it’s been not about what others are making me do, but rather that knowing how to defend myself brings confidence born of knowing that I don’t have to be afraid of anyone. I can walk down the street, at night, in most neighborhoods, unarmed, and be pretty confident that nobody will be able to hurt me seriously. It’s about having opportunities to do things I enjoy.

  8. I’ve wanted to live by myself since my teens as well. Currently doing so, in a foreign country no less, and i absolutely love it, it feels extremely liberating. I have a strong anti-social streak and living with roommates was always essentially living alone with shared facilities, so it’s all upside for me. I’ve never had to deal with stalkers, however… your experience sounds terrifying, i hope it was an isolated event.

    1. Yes, it was just one event. But that doesn’t stop me from suspecting people who loiter around then run into my complex as soon as I open the door. There’s always a bit of a risk, but I take comfort in knowing there are apartments all around me. If I scream loud enough, someone will hear.

    1. Originally, I was going to make this post more gender focused, but – with the exception of a few isolated events – I’m not sure I experienced anything related to my gender. The one thing I do wish is that I felt comfortable walking alone at night. My boyfriend does that sometimes without a thought about safety. I do it and all of a sudden I suspect ever other person I see.

  9. Yeah, I definitely can relate to the paranoia about getting half way down the street and worrying in case I’ve left the cooker on, taps dripping, or not unplugged the iron. Now I always do a quick check before leaving. Spiders no worry. Not being able to reach, or not reach with comfort, the light fittings is frustrating. I’ll just buy some step ladder sometime. I used the switch the radio on soon as I got in, but now I’ve got used to silence. I find that too much radio or music is like too much sugar in my tea now. I like the peace.

    1. Even double checking doesn’t always help. That’s rare, though. It can still be a little crazy, though. Why should I feel a need to verify to stove is off if I didn’t use the stove that morning?

  10. I’m a man who’s lived alone by choice for most of his adult life. Your post made me appreciate all the things that women have to deal with and worry about that men don’t.

    1. Thanks. I’m surprised at how many people tell me that. I had a lot of luck, though. Step one is simply being able to afford to live on your own.

  11. I’m female and my sixties, and I’ve probably spent about half my life living alone. This time it’s been nearly twenty years, and I think I would find it extremely difficult to adjust to living with someone again.

    I sympathize about the creepy-crawlies – if I don’t want to kill something I put a glass over, slide a piece of paper under both, and carry it outside.

    Very sorry about the peeping Tom! But really, curtains! Or blinds. I draw mine when it starts getting dark.

    I don’t suffer too much with paranoia, but I live in a very safe town and drive everywhere. I do get the “did I turn it off” feeling every so often. As I am older, I am more concerned about falling down stairs or having a heart attack with no help handy.

    1. I have blinds. The creeper was struggling to see threw them when I spotted him. Now I have a blanket pinned up against the wind. I suppose I could have blinds and curtains. I’ll probably buy some soon enough.

  12. Hi TK,

    Interesting blog. I think everyone who lives alone faces similar problems. I don’t have a sword at the side of the bed. I’d worry about getting hacked to death in the middle of the night. I do have a baseball bat on top of the wardrobe, that no one would see, not until it’s too late anyway. I’m taller than most people! I don’t have much trouble with spiders, except a huge one that set up home in my bathroom, but he moved out by the next morning.

    I can do what I like now, there is no one to criticise when I do things wrong or behave weirdly. I wore thermal clothing to do a photo shoot the other day, I was about to get in the car when I realised I had forgotten to wear a coat! I can go to bed early now and watch TV in bed and wander around the house wearing whatever I like. I can listen to Mozart without anyone moaning about it. I can have peace and quiet to write and do it at 3 in the morning if I want. I have taken photographs of the full moon at 3 in the morning and the fresh snow. I’ve only had one incident of people looking in through a window. I forgot to close the curtains. I’m not sure if they were guilty of being peeping toms or was I guilty of indecent exposure?

    1. I’m a light sleeper, so I would hear someone in time to grab my sword. No risk of getting hacked ^_^

      The music and the writing at 3 am will take some adjustment once my boyfriend and I move in together. Luckily, he’s a heavy sleeper and – even if he wakes up – he falls asleep crazy fast. I just have to make sure I’m on the side of the bed that faces the door so I can get out of the room without climbing over him. ^^

  13. Did you ever watch Sex and the City where Samantha couldn’t zip herself… I’ve had that! I’ve actually knocked on my neighbour’s door in the past and asked for help. Now if I was living with someone I wouldn’t have that problem….

    1. No. Never watched Sex in the City and I don’t wear many dresses like that…. and maybe that’s why. huh. I never realized I made a point to avoid those kinds of clothes.

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