Any University of Michigan student can attest to the chaotic, stressful nature of finding housing for the following year. There you are at Ulrich’s buying textbooks and reconnecting with friends. You’re still adjusting to classes and reacclimating back into life in college, and for some, in life in the state of Michigan. Suddenly, leasing for the next year overwhelms your life and the only conversations you can have concern where, how and with whom you will be living for the following year. Last year, however, many freshmen were in an even more stressful situation as the University moved Fraternity & Sorority Life recruitment to the Winter semester. Uncertain where I’d end up and what I’d feel comfortable doing, the leasing process landed me in a one-bedroom apartment for my sophomore year.
At the time, it was emotionally draining and stressful to figure out a good housing situation after simultaneously enduring weeks of sorority recruitment, Ann Arbor snowstorms and exams. However, as I’d like to believe things tend to do, it ended up all falling into place. I was at peace with my living situation and happy about my sorority. Then, we entered a pandemic.
Living alone is not something I pictured for myself, especially in college. When it became apparent that COVID-19 would be a permanent presence in the upcoming academic year, I began to have serious anxiety about what living alone would be like without the ability to socialize as much as I had hoped when signing my lease pre-pandemic. But 6 months into living alone, I feel that it’s been an adequate amount of time to assess how this year has been in the one-bedroom apartment that I’ve grown to love and hate in many different ways.
While the pandemic has certainly changed the social scene at the University, I have had the opportunity to grow closer with my tight-knit group of friends. Throughout the semester, we established our bubble as a safety-net of people we could be around without fear of contracting or spreading COVID-19. My year would have been unbearable without them and I am thankful for them everyday. That said, there have definitely still been hard, lonely days.
This article explains something I say often to those who inquire about my living situation: There are pros and cons to living alone. Moving from a dorm to an apartment in itself is a major step up on the ladder of conventional adulthood. Living in an apartment alone has even further established my sense of independence and maturity. At the end of the day, it is up to me to maintain control of everything needing attention. I like having this magnified sense of autonomy. As someone who constantly has a very full Google calendar, being on top of my schedule without interrupting anyone else has helped me stay productive as well.
Beyond the benefits of living alone, there is definitely something to be said about the role this pandemic played in what may have been a more positive experience for me. The pandemic in itself has been isolating for many people and living alone has only exacerbated that. On the flip side, living alone has allowed me to feel safer, as I am only accountable for my own whereabouts and do not need to worry about where my roommates may have been. I’ve tried my best to make the most of my one-bedroom apartment and am confident that it has ultimately done me more good than bad.
I am a big proponent of the idea of doing things that make you grow as a person; sometimes (arguably, oftentimes) these are not fun, sought-after activities. I feel like living alone has been that for me. It’s been trying at times — filled with Facetimes to my mom when I don’t know how to fix the dishwasher and moments where I have to remember to leave my apartment for fresh air after a day full of Zoom classes.
It’s also been cathartic. I’ve learned to love cooking dinner with Coldplay playing in the background and surrounded by things that make me happy — from Trader Joe’s flowers to the pictures I purchased, printed, measured and hung on my living room wall.
In the end, liking or hating living alone is something that varies from person to person. I am a people person and while I value alone time, I look forward to my bustling six-person apartment next year more than I can say. Even now as I write this column — tea warming my knees and an agenda written in chicken scratch on the whiteboard above my desk — I feel a sense of gratitude for the lessons of living on my own and know they will come in handy in the future.
Jess D’Agostino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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