I’ve always thought it was incredibly important that everyone, especially women, take the opportunity to live on their own.
There’s a particular strength that comes from it, one that I didn’t realize until I lived by myself in downtown Indianapolis.
It’s not just about making your own meals, or sleeping alone. It’s about having to take care of the little things, like doing the dishes or cleaning the toilet. If I didn’t want to live in a mess, I had to be the one that took care of it. If my cat made a mess, I had to clean it up.
Having my own cat was another thing. I was solely responsible for him. I fed him twice a day, cleaned out his litter box, and played with him as much as I could. He was my best friend in the city, the one that looked at me every day like “Hey, you’ve got this.” It sounds silly, I know, another girl on the Internet who loves her cat, but it really changed me. I raised my cat, changed him from a fearful cat with ear mites to a happy, plump cat who grooms me when I try to sleep. It made me think about the future. I had to set his vet appointments, buy him food before he ran out, make arrangements if I was going to be out of town. I was actually turning into a real adult.
I cried the first night when I moved out. I was terrified that I wasn’t going to make it, or that I’d have to move back in with my parents. The next morning, though, I still had to get up and went to work. When I came home I looked around my apartment and realized that it was up to me to unpack. It was up to me to cook dinner. It was up to me to pick a cable and Internet provider.
I was doing things for myself, by myself. That Halloween, I decided I wanted to go as a Greek goddess(it’s best not to ask why). I couldn’t find a costume that fit right, so I decided to make one myself. I bought fabric and a pattern, and spent days on the floor in my apartment trying to figure out how to piece it together. Normally, I’d ask my mom for help and she’d figure out for me. But there was no time that year. I had to make it work. I did, eventually, and it looked awesome.
That winter, we had a really bad snow storm. I remember waking up in the middle of the night and seeing the snow. I had a tiny little car that wouldn’t do much good in the snow, but I knew I’d have to find a way to work in the morning. I packed up my work clothes and shoes in a bag, put on my snow boots and some warm clothes, and walked to work that morning. It was terrifying but excited at the same time. I was proud that I had gotten to work on time when others had not, but I was very relieved the next morning when the snow plows had cleaned the streets enough for me to drive on. Just because I know I could walk thirteen blocks in the snow didn’t mean I wanted to do it again.
I feel strong knowing that I can be on my own. There are people I used to look up to, that I used to believe were stronger than me until I realized that they were terrified of being by themselves. One woman told me that she could never live on her own. She was always too scared to do so. Even after her husband left. She went from living with her (now ex) husband, to living with her parents, to living with her new boyfriend. I asked why she didn’t just get her own place, and she said she wasn’t like me. She couldn’t handle the thought of living alone because she would constantly be scared. That was the moment when my view of her changed. She wasn’t the strong, independent woman that everyone thought she was. She was weak. And I was disappointed.
My family hates that I moved out on my own, and that I live further away. They think it’d be smarter to live somewhere closer, or at home, because it’d save money. They pressure me to settle down and get married. They don’t understand that I love my independence. Right now, I’m ok with being alone. I make decisions by myself, for myself. No one is going to decide my life for me.