A couple of acquaintances and I were chatting recently over coffee. I admit, I’d lost track of the conversation a bit (I was looking for something in my handbag) until there came the question ‘Don’t you ever get lonely living on your own?’ followed by a pointed silence. I looked up. They were looking at me. Me? Live on my own? Whatever gave them that idea? And then I realised they was actually talking about living with other people . . .
In spite of the fact that living alone still gets a bad rap in our society, it is a trend on the rise. In Australia, 1 in 4 people now live in ‘lone-person households’ and that number would probably be even higher if more people could afford to do it. (For once in my life I have actually been ahead of a trend! Woo Hoo!) And I get it—there are many advantages to living alone (and before you say ‘Yes but . . . ‘ I do realise there are disadvantages too—but not enough of them yet for me to want to start sharing my space again.)
I love living by myself. The whole house is my space (well—except for Molly’s spot on the end of the couch (she could give Sheldon Cooper a run for his money . . . )
I can be as clean or as messy as I want. (I am not a messy person, but if I was, it would be my mess.) I can channel-surf the TV as often as I like (so *&^%ing annoying when someone else does it) and I never, ever, ever, have to watch any sport. I can eat (or not eat) whatever I like, whenever I like (no judgement)—and the only one giving me a hard time about not doing any exercise is me. I can rock around the house to my favourite music (without headphones) and sing very loudly and—well, I could go on and on . . .
Do you think that sounds incredibly selfish? You are probably right (although you’re possibly also just the teeny-tiniest bit jealous?) but you know, in my defence (not that I really feel I need a defence) I am well aware that I can be rather ‘challenging’ to live with, so I like to consider living on my own as a kind of . . . public service. Seriously.
So, having now convinced you of how content I am, I must also concede that I honestly am not sure if I would be as content if didn’t have a dog . . . or a cat . . . or a bird . . . or a hamster . . . or some other kind of ‘critter’ sharing my home with me. For, in truth, in my years of living ‘by myself’ I have never ever had to come home to a completely empty house.
Most people who share their homes with pets will attest to the love and companionship their pets provide, but they also give us a sense of purpose—give me a sense of purpose.
When living alone it becomes very easy to think only of yourself. To think only of your own welfare and your own needs. My girls give me something else to think except myself. They rely on me for their food, exercise, health and wellbeing. I am insular by nature (‘Please kindly go away . . . I’m introverting) and sometimes I think that if it weren’t for my girls (and the fact that I have to go out to work for a living of course) I would never want to step outside of my comfy little house at all.
But my girls are are everything I am not. They are social creatures. They are loving, and cheerful, and playful, and hilarious, and they like to get out into the big wide world and meet other people (although they still love me best) and I like to think (to hope) that some of their happy nature rubs off on me. I am definitely a nicer person when I am around them.
So, living alone. Yes or No? Yes. Absolutely yes.
Living alone with a pet . . . or three . . . even better . . .
‘My girls’ — Molly, Mabel and Maude