I’ve played the game of going to a fancy restaurant and asking for a ‘table for one’. I still remember getting strange and sympathy-laden look from staff. Imagine announcing to the world how miserably lonely you are. You actually aren’t, but that’s what the rest of the ‘hooked-in-a-committed-relationship’ world thinks. That’s what it felt like. As my social life continued to be the subject of judgement, I saw a sudden burst of confidence and power in me. The power to be my own person. And to find that person.
This ‘table for one’ deal got me flirting with the idea of living alone. It didn’t seem all that bad. Having an apartment to myself and nobody else, seemed fascinating and tempting. No longer would I have to worry about who ate my cereal or who had to do the washing first. I could walk around in my towel all day and even practice naked yoga in the living room (i’ve heard it’s got its own unique benefits).
In the last ten years or so women have increasingly cherished the idea of living alone, not because they are single, divorced, widowed, or crazy, but because they want to. Television shows and movies are to be blamed as well. Carrie Bradshaw made it look stylish and Phoebe Buffay made it look playful. The girls didn’t have a man to cook for and definitely didn’t need any help in fixing false fire alarms. They glamourised the vision of living alone. The idea of ‘Friday nights in’ was no longer for weirdos, but considered as a legitimate option. A bottle of wine, Thai takeout and a sloppy rom-com sealed the deal. It still manages to calm plenty of women out there. Believe you me!
Movies like Bridget Jones’s Diary have convinced the society that single women who live alone are depressed. Period. They make them believe that single women have no life and they watch Saturday night television in their granny panties.
But this got me wondering, why are single women compelled to associate themselves with a man to be entitled for a ‘happily ever after’ ending? Why aren’t single women with successful careers tagged as ‘settled’ or ‘happy’? What did Jerry Maguire mean when he blurted out the infamous line, “you complete me”?
Today, being in a relationship is almost as important as getting a university degree. The idea of being with a significant other or a soulmate is almost a life requirement now. It’s a compulsion because those are societies’ expectations. Yes, women can have a career and rule the corporate world in the most jazzy shoes, but if they’re enjoying an expensive glass of wine all by themselves, they are instantly flagged with the sympathy card. Or even a judgemental one.
This scared me when I got the opportunity to live alone for 10 days.
Last week, my housemates were away so I had the house to myself. My 18-year old self would have thrown a party every night, drank goon from the sack and possibly wrecked the house. But four years later, the 22-year old in me just wanted another being in the house. I wanted to hear a voice in the vicinity bar my loud typing. It was a weird, hollow feeling in my chest that just wouldn’t go away. I felt alone. Really alone. Perhaps, living the life of a ‘freelance journalist’ didn’t help either. I didn’t get out bed till 2pm, endured painful bum cramps (from sitting on my bum all day – duh!) and only left the house to buy milk and newspaper.
That was the moment when I thought, maybe the living alone thing isn’t for me? Maybe I’m not ready to take life by its horns and go crazy with my single life. Even though I dared myself to stay away from cringeworthy rom-coms and greasy take-outs, my inner voice kept telling me something. It said, “this is a very risky road. Don’t go there”.
But there’s something in me that still wants to take the plunge. Dive into the carefree world and not worry about how many ‘committed’ couples surround me. I moved countries, then moved states… perhaps now it’s time to make the next crazy decision and rent an apartment. Just for me.
A house for one!