The quiet joys and foibles of solo living.
Doing isolation solo has advantages and disadvantages. Getting the disadvantages out of the way first, let’s feel the feels and move through it.
– As initial lockdown commenced, I heard on podcasts and socials about the many people choosing to isolate together. With family overseas and most friends living in limited space, this wasn’t an option for me.
– People isolating together had someone to chat with, joke with, play games with. Even as an introvert, even with the “we’re all in this together” statements, it did feel intensely lonely at times to be on my own.
– The media in general talked to society at large about the benefits of spending more time with family or partner. They pointed out the difficulties of this time for older people who are alone. But as usual, single people who live solo were largely ignored and not addressed.
– No hugs, no touch, no valuable face-to-face time to share the feels. Whereas if you’re isolating with family, and if no one is ill, you might still be able to get an oxytocin fix during these tough times when everyone needs a hug (though not too literally, I guess).
– Being confined to a small two-room apartment with no balcony or garden.
– What will happen if I get sick? Who will look after me, buy and prepare food for me?
– Dating life. Well that’s the end of that, then.
The sweet, sweet advantages:
– The relative freedom of being able to ‘design my own iso’ without the need to consider a fellow dweller.
– Sometimes rising at 6am, sometimes sleeping in until 9am and starting my “work” day at 10. Often going to bed at midnight. Today I have stayed in bed writing until after midday. A wintery ideal.
– Having limited space, I have nevertheless maxed it out. I move my laptop between four different workspaces, all of which are always available to me: the big desk with monitor, the small desk with the window view, the sofa, and the bed.
– Goes without saying. I can laugh, cry, hang out in my undies, wear the daggiest outfits, eat straight out of the cooking pot, and indulge in all manner of PAB (Private Alone Behaviour) without annoying the crap out of anyone.
– Work (or lack thereof – so currently, the “work of looking for work”). Clearly, no compromise is needed on quiet time and space. There will be no interruptions – except for the distractions I make for myself!
– I have started having my main meal at midday, and a light sandwich, snack or cup-a-soup in the evening. This is a healthy way to eat, with no complaints – there being no one else to cater for.
– Expenditure on food and necessities is much easier when you’re budgeting for one. This goes for any time, but now, with no going-out socialising, I was amazed by how much I used to spend on frivolities, dining out, public transport etc,
– No visitors = no need to go bananas on housework. I let the vacuuming go completely for a while (having my Dyson vacc head ‘on the blink’ was another excuse)
– Watching what I want to watch. While podcasts and my socials rated the latest Netflix shows, I craved the familiar, and started re-watching favourite movies on DVD. On Stan and Prime, I dabbled in new recommended shows but found it hard to be engaged. Instead I started re-watching Downton Abbey from the start. I re-watched The Young Ones, Mad Men and Extras. Regardless of the psychology of this, there was no one to badger me or compete over screen time or bandwidth.
– Living alone of course means that no one would be bringing the virus into my home, and if I turn out to be carrying but asymptomatic, I am not infecting anyone.
– We introverts and solo dwellers are used to alone time and being comfortable in our homes. The pressure was off. FOMO was cancelled along with everything else. I remember thinking “I’ve got this”.
If this is the new normal, and we can adapt to new ways of experiencing community, then we solo dwellers have got this.
Drop me a comment and let me know how you are going.
(I would also like to acknowledge that my viewpoint comes from a place of white privilege and, while my work prospects are bleak, my situation is relatively safe with a degree of comfort and some dollars in the bank, compared with what others are going through. My heart goes out to the millions who are doing it tough and living with anxiety. )