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Two Weeks Living Alone: What I’ve Learned So Far

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Fordham chapter.

Every semester of college looks different. Coming back to campus after being home for winter or summer break is always a little bit of an adjustment, no matter how long you’ve been a college student. However, the start of this semester was majorly different for me. My three roommates are now studying abroad in London instead of living four feet away from me in our apartment. Their rooms are empty, and because we were unable to find people to fill them, I will be living by myself this semester.

When I first realized I would be living alone, I was terrified. I had gotten used to having my best friends around me at almost all times. When I wasn’t with them, I was usually home with my family or out with other friends. I found myself plagued with anxiety as I tried imagining myself waking up, going about my day, and going to sleep each night – by myself. Who would I talk to during dinner? Who would I borrow clothes from?

I had always thought I would live alone at some point. However, I never thought that it would be during college. I pictured myself in my mid-twenties, living alone with a stable job, mediocre cooking skills, and maybe even a dog. However, the reality is that I’m a college student still finding her way who eats ramen noodles for dinner most nights – without a pet of any kind. Living alone freaked me out mostly because it wasn’t part of my plan for my college years. It also scared me because most other college students have roommates – I don’t know many who have ever lived by themselves. Many of the people I confided in assured me that I would be fine, but the harsh reality of the situation was that some people were never able to live completely on their own, even when they were older. Living alone is a huge adjustment that isn’t right for some people. As a young woman, initially I was concerned for my safety and had nightmares of break-ins or burglaries. Even more, however, I was concerned for my mental health. The loneliness that I thought had to come with living without roommates was too much for me to think about. I thought that the silence in my apartment would drive me insane and feared that some days, I wouldn’t talk to even one other person.

Two weeks into living alone, some of that is true. The silence in my apartment does drive me crazy sometimes. I would be lying if I said it didn’t! However, in just two weeks, I have learned more about myself than I have in a long time. Embracing the discomfort of being by myself has allowed me to grow in ways I hadn’t even thought of – and at first, I didn’t even realize it was happening. The first few days, anytime I was in my apartment alone, I had a relentless urge to call someone or invite someone over. And that is perfectly okay! Relying on friends and family during times of nervousness is a skill that is difficult for many but useful for all. Admitting that I was feeling anxious felt uncomfortable at first, but once I confided in friends and family, they were more than understanding and happy to hang out with me (over FaceTime or in person) whenever I wanted to. Over the course of the past two weeks, however, I’ve realized that I’ve been spending more and more time in my apartment completely alone, and less time thinking about that fact. As humans, we are adaptable. Sometimes it just takes a bit more time than we wanted. I would still be nervous to spend an entire day in my apartment by myself. But maybe, without even realizing it, one day in the future I will conquer that fear.

I’ve also learned to use my resources while living alone. Friends and family are my primary resources when I need advice or comfort. However, feeling lonely living by yourself is an experience that is much more common than I had previously thought. I’ve been able to read articles, watch YouTube videos, and listen to podcasts about individuals in the same situation as me. One of my favorite resources that I stumbled upon without even looking for it is Emma Chamberlain’s podcast episode titled “alone but not lonely”. In this episode, Emma talks about the importance of being alone for self-growth and how she makes herself feel better about being by herself so often. She also describes the difference between being “alone” and being “lonely” and explains that just because you are alone doesn’t mean you have to be lonely. Being alone can be a useful time to work on things that are important to you, strengthen bonds with new friends, and try new things. Listening to her podcast comforted me as I realized that I am not the only person in the world in this situation, and living alone wouldn’t be easy for most people.

All in all, living alone has showed me that I am much stronger than I thought. Before the semester started, I thought I would have to commute from my house in New Jersey because I would be so nervous to be by myself. However, only two weeks in, I know that I can finish out the semester without having to resort to that option. My favorite Peloton instructor, Chase Tucker, often talks about the importance of discomfort in growth. He mostly speaks about this in terms of working out – without putting yourself in a physically uncomfortable situation, like lifting a heavier weight or running at a faster pace, you would never be able to improve or get stronger. I’ve realized that this is potentially even more true when it comes to putting yourself in mentally uncomfortable situations. If we never push ourselves outside of our comfort zones and try new things, we will never grow or become stronger. Even if there are setbacks and sometimes I still do feel nervous by myself, the setbacks will never amount to the amount of growth I’ve experienced in just two weeks.

Now, rather than being afraid or apprehensive about my living situation for the semester ahead, I am excited about it. I am confident that I will keep growing and becoming more comfortable on my own. I have become much more independent in these past few weeks and cannot wait to see how much more I will get to know myself in the coming months.

Kaleigh Pfohl

Fordham '23

Kaleigh is an International Political Economy major at Fordham and loves reading, traveling, and trying new restaurants!