Going Solo is a book that I picked up at the same time that I purchased Bowling Alone. While the latter book is focused on social and community trends from the 1950s-2000, this book covers a bit more into the 2010’s in a different perspective. Both play narratives towards the trend of isolation of humankind. However, Going Solo specifically pertains to the act of humans choosing to live alone without having friends and family as roommates/housemates.
Note: Between the two books, this was the easiest to read and finish (hence why I’m reviewing it first). However, it’s hard to state if I’ve learned a significant amount after completing it.
The first sections of the book are dedicated to the mental struggles on singles due to the social pressures to have a partner.
“No one wants to die alone.”
“It’s sad that you don’t have someone to come home to.”
“Having kids with my spouse is the most momentous achievement I have.”
As a result, society tends to look down upon those who live alone, as if they are inflicted with a mental disorder or curse. On the flip side, employers will discriminate singles and even expect those without a family to work harder because they “have more free time.”
However, as our society has taken care of our social and financial needs, individuals are choosing to live in their individual homes due to many reasons. This includes those that opt out of having a partner or a family. And despite such stereotypes, these individuals typically have a more active social life. This is not just limited to the US with its strong sense of individualism and self-worth, but it’s also present in socialist Europe and many Asian countries with interdependent societies.
I moved to a city with one of the largest percentages of people that live alone. 43% in Minneapolis, MN. And now I’m one of them.
It makes sense to live by yourself, if you are a young professional just starting out in a new career. But these percentages account for all adult age groups. Of course, it’s not all dependent on the individual’s choice. Including myself, many just see it as (and hope that it’s just) a phase that we go through until we meet a partner we are comfortable with. We no longer have a financial incentive to live with others. Those that are hurt from prior relationships are less inclined to rush back into another one. It’s safer emotionally to live alone.
Living alone also gives those a sense of sanctuary and maintains a sense of self-worth and identity. This is true especially this age where we are so hyper-connected in such an artificial way.
There are also worries for those aging alone. The ugly truth is that women typically outlive their husbands by ~10 years, with those being the most detrimental to their mental health. Those that did not have a partner may have a stronger social circle that can better assist during their golden years.
While friends, family, and community groups are there to support those in old age and sickness, it’s not perfect. Urban centers are working around how to improve infrastructure and programs that are beneficial to solo individuals of all ages. Building convenient, compact housing close to downtown and commercial sectors can catalyze local networking optimal for a healthy community for all its members of all ages and backgrounds.
Why am I living alone?
I’ve lived with roommates for 4 years and a wife for 5 years afterwards. After my divorce, despite the higher cost, I was blessed with the opportunity to live alone. It did feel miserable at first, but I’ve slowly come to appreciate the many advantages that I have never experienced before. I could decorate and plan activities without compromise, and I have more control over the spatial state of my belongings. It brings me peace, not having to worry about coming home to any unwelcome surprises.
And if I don’t find a partner, I know that life alone isn’t as bad as other may think it is. I have more control over my life, career, and hobbies. And I always keep life interesting.