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July 21, 2008

Living Alone Is Hard

(Kelly Kapoor on The Office)

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single girl alone in apartment

Photo Credit: Charlie Schuck/Getty Images

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Here’s a true story about me: I keep a plastic bottle of water near my bed at night so I can stay hydrated. Hydration is the key to great skin and being thin and lots of life's other happinesses, according to the many, many women's health magazines I subscribe to.

So, one night, I drank a big gulp of water from my water bottle, turned off the light, and went to sleep, very pleased with myself.

In the middle of the night, I heard a gunshot and immediately peed my pants. Well, to be accurate, I peed my pajamas. For those of you who haven't had the experience of peeing yourself, it's not just for children and the elderly. It can happen to anyone who is terrified and thinks that they will be murdered shortly.

Well, it wasn't a gunshot. It was an indentation in my plastic water bottle un-indenting itself, loudly. It made a loud, plastic-y crack,, which I mistook for a gunshot. When I realized this, I felt relief ... then a deep foolishness.

Living alone is hard.

Don't get me wrong, living alone can be wonderful. I listen to the same Jordin Sparks song on repeat and no one tells me how irritating that is. I don't have to wear deodorant. I can wear granny underpants, my hair can be stringy, and I can eat directly from containers. I have autonomy. I'm like a Lost Boy from Peter Pan.

Since I have to be in makeup at 6 a.m. every morning for work, having no one see me when I get home is an amazing freedom. Also, by not having a roommate, I avoid friendship-ending arguments about house messiness (to be accurate, about how I am largely responsible for the house messiness).

But since I'm a chatty, tactile person, it can also get incredibly lonely.

When my New York–based boyfriend, Ben, is in town, this solves a lot of loneliness problems. But not danger problems. Ben is great, but he looks like a thinner version of Beck (himself a pretty skinny dude), so he's not a huge insurance policy against prowlers. Since I moved into my house, I've had some massive fraidy-cat moments almost daily — people knocking on my door to welcome me to the neighborhood, children trying to sell me magazines or cookies or get me to sign something.

So I've had to become a little more brave. Mostly I pretend I'm Jodie Foster in Panic Room.

Or Jodie Foster in any movie. Jodie Foster is always single-handedly fending off baddies. I also learned two key self-defense moves, about which I'm not going to go into detail lest people learn my secrets (hint: One involves groin damage, the other, arm-socket damage). Last, I bought a deafening alarm for my key chain, which I've set off when riffling through my purse, and it scares the living crap out of me, so I'm confident it will work in a time of duress.

As frightening as it can be, I treasure my time alone. Why? I can be as self-interested as I please. I'm 29, and as I feel myself drifting toward marriage and kids, I'll look back on this time as a delicious, tiny window where I got to do whatever I wanted. Including, as it turns out, peeing my pajamas in terror.

The Pros and Cons of Living Alone

Pro: Silence when you want it
Con: Silence always. Alone with ... your thoughts?

Pro: Proudly hung all the pictures by yourself
Con: They're all crooked

Pro: No roommate to steal your clothes
Con: No roommate to steal clothes from

Pro: No one else's crusty, caked-on dishes piling up in the sink
Con: Good God, all those dishes are yours?

Pro: Sleep in! You're never woken up at 6 a.m. by someone else's hair dryer
Con: D'oh! No one to split the electric bill with

Pro: Watch what you want, when you want
Con: No one to congratulate you on getting that obscure Lewis Carroll reference on Lost

Pro: No more pulling your lazy roommate's bottles out of the trash to put in the recycling bin
Con: Gulp. All those wine bottles are yours

More Articles from the Smart Girl’s Guide to Living Alone
The Roomate-Heave Ho
Cooking for One
Pimp Your Pad
Boy-Proof Your Lair
13 Things We Learned From Living Alone


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