Sara Pauff: Tips for living on your own

March 5, 2012 

If you hear music and slightly out-of-tune singing coming from my apartment, keep walking. There’s no karaoke party. That’s just me.

I live alone, but my neighbors probably think two or three people share my apartment because I talk to myself so much. I think aloud about everything from the grocery list to future column ideas. When I’m cooking dinner, I like to turn on music and sing along while I chop vegetables or stir pasta.

If I lived with another person, I would not act this way. Because I’m by myself, there’s a need to fill the silence -- and also the freedom to do whatever I want, when I want. Listen to the same Taylor Swift song on repeat ten times in a row? Okay. Clean the bathroom at 10 at night? Sure. No need for conversation. I’ll curl up with a good book instead.

All of this sounds like odd behavior, until you consider that the number of single-person households is on the rise, which means so is the number of weird single person habits. A recent New York Times article chronicled some of these secret single behaviors. One woman sings Journey songs in the shower and talks to herself in conversational French. Another man looks forward to the days his girlfriend is out of town -- so he can play video games and drink Champagne in the mornings.

I like living by myself now. But when you get your first roommate-free apartment, the silence and solitude can be a little jarring. Here are some tips to make the transition easier:

Be safe: This should be common sense. Check the doors and windows whenever you move into a new place and make sure the locks are strong. If you live in an apartment, park as close to your building as you can. Know your neighbors, if not by name, at least by sight, so you recognize strangers.

Get a pet...or don’t: I’m divided on this issue. Puppies are cute and it would be nice to have something to talk to besides the walls. But getting a pet is a big responsibility that you have to take on all by your singleton self. There’s no one else around to walk it, feed or clean up it’s messes. I guess it depends on whether your love for animals outweighs your disdain for vacuuming up pet hair.

Make a routine: When there is no one around to remind you to exercise, eat right and clean up, it’s easy to become a fat slob. You can definitely be more relaxed -- leave clothes in the dryer, pile books and movies everywhere, eat cereal for dinner -- but when your parents visit you at least want to give the impression of being an adult, even if you don’t always live like one.

Alone doesn’t mean lonely: I believe that a little solitude can be beneficial, even for social butterflies. Time alone gives you a chance to recharge and clear your mind. If it gets too quiet, do what I do: turn on some music and have a karaoke party for one.

--Contact Sara Pauff at 706-320-4469 or spauff@ledger-enquirer.com. For more commentary, read her 20-something blog at www.ledger-enquirer.com/sara.

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