What’s it like to live alone at 31 with anxiety for the first time?

I live alone at 31 for the first time.

Back in the beginning of September, I dog and house-sat for my sister and her boyfriend. I used to live with the dog, Pansy, and understood the task. I also understood that my sister was doing me this favor after I basically had a mental breakdown a couple of weeks before. On the other hand, I also have a puppy of one year. Her barking needs to be phased out as soon as possible. I don’t think it ever will, to be honest. (She’s a Jack Russell terrier and chihuahua mix which are both notorious for barking.) Despite the amount of training she’s had, the baby phase is still prevalent as she is only one. Mediocre at best, but I thought it was enough that I could handle two dogs.

I think you guys know where I’m going with this.

I’d never lived alone before, and the only time I’d ever been alone was when I flew home from the Philippines back in 2016. (Okay, technically, I’d flown alone domestically before- an hour, but also spent months away from home. However, there was always family at the end of the one-hour-long journey.) Despite my inexperience, I was desperate to leave home even if only for the weekend.

My first meal alone.

I’ve never lived alone before, and it shows.

I refused to be too hard on myself, but I expected to have a greater chance of succeeding. Unfortunately, the complications of my monthly cycle made the odds even more against me.

All I wanted to do was nap, but I had to fend for myself on top of taking care of two dogs. I learned a lot and regretted a lot too. Mostly, I think, I was both thankful and bitter for my sheltered upbringing.

I was made unprepared for life by myself.

Maya’s a sweetheart most of the time, but the little noises bothered her so much that it would send her into a frenzy I couldn’t handle. I didn’t know how much all the factors of being alone with all the bad stuff stacking up could make me want to cry with nothing to blame. It was tough knowing that I was a bother to other people because I couldn’t get my dog to trust me that everything was fine. It was embarrassing.

Despite this, imagine if I didn’t have Maya. I’d be alone with Pansy, who doesn’t bark much. I actually feel safer having Maya around. The way Maya told me that I was completely unprepared to live alone at 31 created conflicting emotions for me.

I could have reached this conclusion without trying this, but the past eight years have crippled me. I used to be quite independent.

Traveling felt like second nature to me and flying alone wasn’t scary or troubling. I was aware of the bad stuff that could happen (including that time of the month), but I knew that I could handle it. Being 20-something gave me enough courage to do sh*t. Then, I became a recluse.

I feared stepping outside of the house, walking to the library two blocks away, or even just throwing out the trash. Physically, I feel so afraid on my own even though I know how capable I am. Mentally, I struggle to feel capable even though physically, I can see that I am. Anxiety keeps me in my cage, and I have let it do so because fear is anxiety.

The little sounds that made Maya bark made me jump. When a wall rattled, I turned to the locked door blocked by a chair. I struggled with my safety even with two dogs.

back at home

For 24 hours, I tried to live alone at 31 years old.

I can cook and clean for myself easily enough. Most of the time, I keep tidy 60% of the time and the rest of that, I’m busy living my life (ie. drawing or writing aside from Maya things). I can ‘adult’ in ways that others can’t. I understand taxes and bills. However, being alone in an apartment is completely different from being alone in a house with my brother or my sisters. I’ve become complacent with my circumstances. Despite wanting to ‘get out of here’, ‘out’ may not be the most comfortable place with the way I am, mentally.

I learned a lot about my fears in those hours with two dogs and how different I’ve become from 10 years ago or even a year ago.

Part 2 of Living Alone at 31 will be posted in November!

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