For most of this year 2022, I lived alone here in Kolkata, India. This is where my workplace is situated. It has now been 3 years since I started working, but this was the first year of me living all by myself.
As the year is coming to a close and I reflect on these past months, I felt like recounting all the things I learned since living alone.
Writing is the best way for me to do so, hence this post.
This is a big thing for me because, in the beginning, I didn’t have the courage to live alone.
I could see my friends and colleagues living alone all by themselves far from home, but I just couldn’t see myself in the same situation.
I thought I was brave and independent, but I still didn’t feel brave enough to live all by myself.
I wondered what people did alone all by themselves. I wondered if they felt scared. I wondered how lonely would it be, and I just couldn’t see myself in that scenario yet.
I had always lived with my parents and also, always had a sleeping partner.
After my father passed away, I slept with my mom, and even during college time, I shared my bed with my roommate turned best friend, Nirupama.
So when I got my job and had to relocate to Kolkata, my mother also stayed here with me. All was good except my dog Bella was left with my grandmother and aunt back home.
I missed her so very much and felt sad that she could not have any of us (me and mom) close to her.
Then the Pandemic hit and soon I was back home again for almost two years.
But once everything opened up again, I had to return to Kolkata again.
This time, after a few negotiations with my landowner, I did bring my dog, Bella with me, but since she’s used to living in an open space and sunbathing openly in the sun, she just didn’t like it here living in a 2 BHK apartment.
She fell sick and just wouldn’t eat her food. I took her to the vet many times, but she didn’t do any well.
The only option I had to make for her good then, was to ask my mom to go home and stay with her in Siliguri. No sooner did she reach Siliguri, than her appetite returned and she was doing well again.
I came to know even dogs get homesick even though they might have their owners close to them.
This was the only reason that compelled me to live here alone without my mother and my dog.
And so began my living alone diaries.
Here are all the things I learned since then
Table of Contents
1. How to cook properly
The number one thing I learned and am very proud of myself for is that I learned how to cook properly.
I did know how to cook a few basic things, but not much and never on a regular basis.
When I have my mother, I never cook. She does all the cooking. I am more in the dishwashing department. Lol.
But living alone compelled me to cook and that too, on a regular basis.
Also, I learned how to take care of guests and prepare full meals for them.
I never had to prepare meals for guests at home.
But when I lived here alone and guests visited- sometimes my brothers, sometimes my sisters and friends, I had a new experience of cooking for my guests and I felt so accomplished.
It felt good to cook for others and have people in the home to have meals and talk with.
I realised that I can actually manage a home and I felt happy.
2. How to sleep soundly alone
I faced major sleeping problems when I went through a very dark phase in my life.
It was insomnia and I had gone months with little to no sleep and it had taken a toll on my mental and physical health.
Even though the anxiety and depression were gone and I was able to sleep well, still that fear in me was deeply seated.
I felt it would emerge again if I slept alone. And so I didn’t feel like I had enough courage to sleep alone at night.
For me, living alone wasn’t a major problem, sleeping alone was.
So on my first day of living alone, I had no other thing to turn to, but prayer.
I prayed for sound sleep. I prayed to not feel scared. I prayed to not mind my mind. I prayed to not let fearful thoughts bother me even if they did come. I prayed a lot.
The first night was a bit difficult, but I had accepted that it would be difficult and so I did not make a big deal out of it.
The second night was a little less hard. On the third night, I continued with the same prayer.
And by the fourth or fifth night, I was sleeping soundly.
This was another thing I felt really satisfied with.
Living alone helped me to get rid of my fear and now it is no more.
I sleep soundly at night and fall asleep in no time. I am so glad to not have any sleeping issues like before and every day I wake up with thankfulness for a good sleep.
Sleep- it really is the most important thing in the world.
If sleep is an issue for you too, I’ve written more about it in my post- How to sleep better with anxiety.
3. The joy of cooking mindfully
I never liked cooking. Some said cooking is like therapy, and I didn’t get how.
It was always exhausting for me, except on days when I had plenty of time and could cook leisurely new items with the help of Youtube.
When I started living on my own, in the beginning, I would get so stressed while cooking. I would constantly rush and in the process, would not enjoy it at all.
One time I wanted to make egg curry, so I boiled eggs. But I don’t know why all the eggs broke.
I tried two times, and two times the eggs broke and I had to eat three or four half-boiled eggs just like that because I didn’t want to spoil them.
I remember being so tired that I just sat on my kitchen floor feeling sad and needing my mom.
So many months have passed since then, and now, if you ask me how I like cooking, I have a totally different feeling.
I now enjoy cooking and it’s a wonderful me-time moment for me. It is now a time-space where I am just on my own and taking my mind off work and other things.
How did this change?
I started listening to the podcast ‘The Way out is in’ which centres around mindfulness in daily life.
I also followed Thay’s (Thich Nhat Hanh’s) teachings on mindfulness and it was so helpful for me.
I realized I was rushing for no reason and wanted to finish cooking as soon as possible. But it instead was resulting in me spoiling things, taking much more time and not enjoying cooking.
Now I don’t hurry and try to enjoy each step of preparing a meal without rush, without hurry, but with patience, love and joy and feel happy while cooking.
All this was simply because I started cooking mindfully.
4. People are generally kind
Another thing I realized since living alone is that people are generally kind, and trustworthy and that there’s nothing to worry about or feel doubtful about in other people’s intentions.
People living in the cities are thought to be mean and unkind, and yes, some are, but most of them are generally kind and helpful.
If you speak to them kindly and see them often, you start to develop a kind of bond with them that doesn’t even require much talking and knowing.
You just know it by the way they greet you, notice you and smile at you.
Now I have Rickshawala ‘bhaiyas’ (brother in Hindi) greeting me every morning. They take me to my college (my workplace) without me even having to say where I want to go, and I give them a silent blessing on my ride.
When they see me after a long time after having gone home, they ask me, “Bhaalo Aachen?” (Are you good?)
Sometimes when I don’t have any change to give them, they say it’s no problem and that I can give them the next day.
When I get down from my rickshaw, they are kind enough to always tell me, “Aaste aaste” (Slowly slowly… lest I fall). These little gestures make me feel happy and thankful.
There is also a chai (tea) shop I visit every evening on my walk and there the two young boys have now started to know me. They ask me if I had gone somewhere if I don’t visit them for many days in a row.
Similarly, a stationary owner, fruit shop owner, my puri-sabji owner, grocery shop owner, puchkawala bhaiya and others are happy to see me even if they don’t tell me directly.
I too feel happy and kind of secure seeing them when I have interactions with them in my day-to-day life.
So in this past year of living alone, I realized that I’ve actually had so many kind encounters and have developed a silent bond with so many people all by myself.
Most of us wouldn’t find these relationships important, and so wouldn’t I either had I been at home or living with someone.
But this means much to me now because these are some connections I developed all by myself as I lived alone and carried on in my day-to-day life.
I am thankful for all of them who make little parts of my life so much easier.
5. Hobbies add joy to everyday life
When I started to live alone, I had set an intention in my mind that I would be a good balancer and I would balance everything in my life.
I had set an intention that I would take care of myself even without my mom. This wasn’t only for me, but also for my mother’s satisfaction.
So when my mom went back home and I was left to live here alone, I had to take care of the plants my mother was taking care of.
I didn’t want the plants to die, so I simply started by watering them daily.
But soon I developed a relationship with them and I started to know which plant is which and how they are.
And thus also began my love for gardening and plants.
It gave me so much joy, and I realized it was because I had a new hobby now.
If I had my mother still living with me, nothing would have compelled me to look after the plants and try my hands at gardening.
Now gardening and loving plants have made my life so interesting and joyful. And I think actually, all hobbies can do that.
Hobbies are an essential part of living because we need to have something that we can do that is not attached to our work, our money or our status, but purely for the sake of doing and enjoying.
Living alone made me learn about the importance of hobbies and I am so happy I have more than one.
P.S Here are 60+ hobby ideas for inspiration
6. Decorating a home is close to decorating one’s life
The good thing about being an adult is that we are in total charge of our life. Some of us misuse it, whereas some use this freedom wisely.
The apartment where I am living, even though it is a rented one, is mine. I knew that I am in charge of how I wanted my home to make me feel.
I wasn’t able to do much before because soon the pandemic hit, but after I came back again, I decided to make my home a wonderful space.
It is still in the process, but I did a balcony makeover and put up wallpapers in my rooms. It changed the whole ‘feel’ of the room and now I feel so good just entering my home and being in my room.
I love my balcony and spend most of my mornings doing my morning routine there.
It is my humble abode and my home makes me feel good and inspired.
I learned by living alone that decorating a home is close to decorating one’s life.
We live at our home and feel most of the things in life at our home.
Every part of our home is an extension of us and our energy and so we must take time to make sure that our home gives us inspiration, good vibes and peacefulness.
This is what I learned living alone and I am so glad about it.
Some time back I wrote a post on: Why I enjoy cleaning my home and not dread it which you might like to read.
7. How to enjoy being alone and not feel lonely
It’s strange to say, but I learned that I actually don’t feel lonely.
This made me feel glad to know that my relationship with myself has become strong and that I enjoy my own company.
I do miss home, miss my mom, miss my two dogs, and my partner and wish I could be there with them or they with me, but still the feeling is not that of loneliness.
In fact, I even wrote a post about it- how to not feel lonely living alone
I enjoy my own space so much. I enjoy my solitude and doing things by myself.
Things don’t feel like a burden even if I’m doing it just for myself.
I am able to dance in the morning freely, go for a solo walk every evening and have plenty of me-time moments and get better at being responsible for myself.
When my mother is around, I tend to leave little things under her care, but living alone I am more responsible and thoughtful.
8. Life is good, but having a pet makes it better
Lastly, I learned that having a pet makes life so much better and happier if you’re someone who’s living alone.
I recently got a kitten, and I am enjoying and loving her company so much. I named her Mia.
I am now talking with her, laughing and playing with her and she is adding so much joy to my life.
It’s just been a week now and I am already in love with her and she with me (well, I think she is :))
She gives me cat stares and eye kisses and is such a good girl!
So this made me realize that Life is good, but having a pet makes it better 🙂
So these were just some of the things I learned living alone.
Most of all, I learned that it is all up to us how we make ourselves feel.
We can take things as a burden, keep saying we have nothing to do, and that life is so boring, or we can decide to show up, find little things that might lift up our spirits, do bits of them and enjoy the small moments.
I wonder how long I will have to live by myself, for I enjoy having the company of my loved ones around me, and I always dream of a life where I am living with my husband and kids in the same place in love and togetherness.
I would never want a long-distance marriage. But living alone also hasn’t been that bad either.
Living alone made me know that I am much more courageous and brave than I thought I was. It made me confident about how I handle and balance things in my life.
So till I have to live alone, I will make it worthwhile for myself and try to enjoy the most of this phase of my life as well.
This much for today.
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