I distinctly remember when I lived alone for the first time. It was many years ago, in a small studio apartment, in the uptown area of Minneapolis. It was a period of subtle, but meaningful, personal growth.
Prior to living alone — during and just after college — I lived with college and high school friends.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but while living with friends, I failed to detect and pursue my true interests. I didn’t fully evolve into my authentic self. Instead, I was doing, and being, what I thought others expected of me and of my past behaviors.
Then my friend and roommate, Brian, moved to Seattle. I found myself living alone for the first time. It was then that I cautiously decided to remain solo.
While living alone those first few months, I unexpectedly found myself unencumbered by peer pressure. I started reading different books, buying offbeat magazines, watching variant TV programs, wearing different clothing styles, and exploring alternative music. I was detecting and pursuing niche interests that I never knew I had. I started devouring books about theology. I became engrossed in obscure Catholic radio programs. I wrote songs. And I encountered my passion for design.
I was surging with an alertness and creativity like never before.
Even then I wondered why I didn’t detect those interests while living with friends. Was I, alone, responsible for limiting myself due to my fear of what others might think of my emerging affections? Had friends or family discouraged my development in these areas? Was it a mix of both?
It can be frightening to expose ourselves to others who prefer us as we were. Conversely, we can terrify others by evolving, especially if they perceive our growth to leave them behind.
Ultimately, we are not meant to be alone, and we can learn more when together.
The solution is to seek strength, to communicate, to encourage and to carry each other as we grow.