5 Women On The Truth About Living Alone

It was both the biggest risk and the best risk I've ever taken.

Human Interest

When I was younger, I couldn't wait to be grown so I could have my own apartment. I remember visiting my older cousin's apartment and taking mental pictures of her decor because I wanted to replicate the same energy once I was old enough to have my own space. The chance to turn on lights without my mama giving me the black mama look was all I wanted. Every time Ari Lennox sang, "I just got a new apartment. I'm gon' leave the floor wet. Walk around this bitch naked and nobody can tell me shit," I feel that in my soul. I finally got that freedom after moving to Denver in 2016 and I realized the joy of living independently also comes with some lonely nights.

I've lived in different cities and countries all over the world but I always had a roommate so moving to the Mile High City alone was one of the biggest risks I had ever taken. And one of the best risks if I'm being honest.

I am so proud to be a part of a generation of women that is focusing more on what makes them happy and not allowing societal deadlines to compromise their life choices. Marriage and birth rates have lowered due to a number of variables and a woman's choice to make her career a priority is leading the charge. Between the government and nosey family members all in our fallopian tubes, women just want to create a life they love.

For some queens that equates to living solo. A recent study says that women who live alone have higher education levels, are higher income earners and are more likely to be professionals than women living with others. With those statistics, we decided to catch up with five women to spill the tea on the perks and pitfalls of living single-ish.

Peigy Theodore:

Courtesy of Peigy Theodore

"My life has been pretty different from my friends and peers. I moved out of my parents' home when I was 19 and my sister was my roommate. It was a stepping-stone decision for me. By the age of 21, I had moved out completely on my own. I've lived alone for almost 10 years now. I'm newly and happily single.

The biggest misconception about living alone is that it's scary, and not in the 'someone is going to break into your house' kind of way, but more so getting psyched out and thinking you're not going to sustain the life you want, especially in New York.

It's super expensive here but I made it work on minimum wage while going to school. I tell everyone, it's all about timing, budgeting and money management. That being said, it is in no way easy and there will initially be some fear because it's a big change but it's worth it.

I actually really love living alone and suggest for everyone to try it but there are three things I dislike that are kind of silly but here they are: being my own 'handy-man' (I'm actually really handy, but sometimes you just want things to be magically fixed); having to actually kill spiders myself; having to pay this expensive NYC rent on my own (honestly, I would save a ton if I were willing to get a roommate); not being able to zip the back of a dress. I've definitely shown up to places and asked someone there to zip me.

I almost never feel lonely. I thoroughly enjoy spending time with myself and just relaxing.

My favorite space is my living room. It's the perfect amount of comfort and I can just focus there as opposed to being in my room. Also, it's a great space for home workouts during quarantine."

Follow Peigy's journey on Instagram @peigystyles.

Vic Styles:

Courtesy of Vic Styles

"I decided I wanted to live alone two years ago. I was sleeping on friends' couches because I couldn't get approved for my own place. My credit was bad, and being freelance it was almost impossible to get approved. I vowed to myself that I would fix my credit and get an apartment alone. I worked and prayed diligently, and a year later I moved into my own place. I am in a relationship, but he does not officially live with me.

The biggest misconception about living alone is that you get bored or lonely. And for me, this hasn't been the case. I enjoy time with and for myself.

I grew up an only child, and because my dad was in the military we moved every 2-3 years. I say this to say: I've spent most of my life alone. I've grown to love and cherish the time I'm allowed to spend with myself and never really find it lonely. I am my own best friend.

There's only one thing I dislike - I freak out whenever I see a bug and there's no one to deal with it but me. My favorite space is my bedroom. It feels like peace. Some things I like to do when I'm alone include: reading, binge-watching cheesy TV shows, writing, manifesting through Pinterest vision boards, and of course working."

Follow Vic's journey on @thevicstyles.

Tania Cascilla:

Courtesy of Tania Cascilla

"I've always preferred to live alone, I grew up an only child, so I'm totally accustomed to it now. I'm single-ish and totally not against cohabitating, I think it's all about setting boundaries and respecting each other's space. Im definitely not opposed to living with my partner in the future but right now I'm enjoying the freedom of being alone in my space.

The biggest misconception is definitely loneliness. It's like geez, can't I enjoy my own company?

FaceTiming with friends, working, going for a walk, soaking in the tub or simply just watching TV help combat loneliness. I feel like I have so much going on that I honestly don't notice it.

My favorite space in my home is definitely my living room... Specifically my couch, It's such a cozy and comfy vibe."

Follow Tania's journey on Instagram @darlingtee.

Tanisha Cherry:

Courtesy of Tanisha Cherry

"I decided to live alone three years ago when I got the call that I was the successful candidate for a new job. This blessing was taking me away from a job that was making me miserable and giving me the money to change my living situation. At the time, I had five more months on my lease and the friendship with my roommate was over.

The biggest misconception is that being alone is being lonely, when really it's 'all in one'. Honestly, I don't dislike anything about living alone. I really enjoy living alone because I'm in an environment that aids in my flourishment.

Loneliness is sadness because one has no friends or company. I prevent loneliness by making plans with my family/friends and incorporating a shared interest. A shared interest can be food, fitness, shopping, etc. For example, my friend Ryan and I are committed to living a more active lifestyle. So, we go on two-hour walks together around our neighbor to get our steps in and check-in.

My favorite space in my home is my living room. There's an energy in that area that helps me be completely in the moment of whatever I'm doing."

Follow Tanisha's journey on Instagram @tanisha.cherry.

E'yonnie Scott

Courtesy of E'yonnie Scott

"I've dreamed of living alone since 2014 when I graduated from college. But I was finally able to make this a reality earlier this year in March. I made a major career change that gave me the footing I needed to branch out on my own. I've now been living alone for almost five months.

I personally prefer living alone right now, as this is the first time in my life that I've had this kind of space to myself. I'm 100% accountable to myself and have the flexibility to build my household around my needs. But when the time feels right, I'm excited to live with a partner that I can grow and align with.

As far as what led me to that decision, I took cues from my own experiences living with family, as well as from stories friends have shared about living with partners and roommates. It's very sweet living with loved ones, but I realized I'm more suited to having space to retreat into my own world (at least for now).

My biggest misconception about living alone was that, despite how much I love alone time, it still gets lonely at times. I still get homesick for my family and childhood home, but I'm finding ways to make my new space feel like 'home' the more I settle in.

Things I dislike about living alone include managing everything alone, like bills, budgeting, repairs, chores, and time management now that I'm working from home (sometimes it's daunting, but it also gives me a sense of accomplishment); the existential dread that comes with quarantining alone (I'm thankful, though, that my loved ones and I are finding ways to help each other stay centered); there's no one else around to help catch spiders that sneak into the apartment.

My favorite area is my living room because it feels like a sanctuary, from the teal couch pillows to the afternoon sunlight that pours in every day. I love my candles, my plants, the berimbau that sits behind my plants, and the bookshelf full of Octavia Butler. Despite the chaos outside, my living room and its soft accents make me feel safe.

I stave off loneliness with lots of FaceTime calls, a robust podcast rotation, crafting, gardening, tuning into webinars, movies, and playing lots of music. I'm also a part of a small quarantine-pod that meets up social-distance style. I love them very much and cherish our time together."

Follow E'yonnie's journey on Instagram @eon_genesis.

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Featured image by Vic Styles

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You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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Feature image courtesy of Elisabeth Ovesen

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