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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Joce Blake is a womanist who loves fashion, Beyonce and Hot Cheetos. The sophistiratchet enthusiast is based in Brooklyn, NY but has southern belle roots as she was born and raised in Memphis, TN. Keep up with her on Instagram @joce_blake and on Twitter @SaraJessicaBee.
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
They say you can’t heal in the same place that made you sick. And I couldn’t.
The year was 2019, and I knew I had to go. My spirit was calling me to be alone and to go alone. It was required in that season. A few months prior, I had quit my job. And it was late 2017 when I had met trauma.
I was completely broken, and every part of me hurt. I was no longer the lighthearted Camille that everyone loved and knew me to be. I remember a family friend saying, “You’re not the same.” And I wasn’t. I no longer recognized the girl looking back at me in the mirror. I needed major healing.
It was 2018 when I found the courage to seek mental health therapy. At that point, I knew there was nothing more that my friends could do for me. I was all cried out, and the silence was killing me. At the time, I was diagnosed with clinical anxiety, depression, and PTSD. How?
How did I let trauma take complete control of my life? But I had to forgive myself for all the things I did not know.
At the time, my therapist introduced me to journaling as a coping mechanism. Words ultimately became my best friend. In many ways, I would like to think that writing saved me. I am in love with words, and I always have been. My writing was and still is my safe space. It unlocked opportunities I never imagined – like writing for xoNecole.
And with this gift, I can now tell you a story about my own trauma, healing, self-discovery, and the journey to learning how to celebrate myself.
Starting a Healing Journey
In early Spring 2019, I was told by a Reiki healer that I was going to embark on a journey. She told me it was going to be lonely, but I was never alone. The thing is I never once mentioned to this woman my travel plans. It was August 2019 when I planned my solo trip to Europe. It was going to be 38 days alone on a continent I knew absolutely nothing about. By the end of summer and a nine-hour flight later, I touched down in London.
I fell in love with every single thing. I fell in love with everything I could see – colors, cobblestone streets, spiral staircases, adorned windows, architecture, garden terraces, nature, and people. I fell in love with everything I could hear – accents, language, history, and music. I fell in love with everything I could taste – wines, foods, and desserts. I fell in love with everything I could feel – ocean breezes, white sands, and well-designed buildings. I fell in love with everything that fed my soul. People, stories, and connections. I fell in love with myself.
I always say women have the ability to heal others naturally. It was here in my travels that I started to pay attention to the concepts of purpose, connection, energy, alignment, and universal signs. I began to truly realize not only my strengths and universal gifts but also how to use them too. I started to step into my authentic self. I began to realize who Camille really was. A free spirit with a heart of gold.
Courtesy of Camille Ali
A New Season
By the time I had returned from Europe, it was late Fall 2019, and I was a completely different person.
I spent most of my time pouring into myself. Self-development and self-love became key. Everything that I previously settled for in family, friends, and relationships – I went and gave to myself. Read that again. I became completely in love with who I was becoming, and I still am. I had let go of tradition, conditional beliefs, people pleasing, and living my life to make my parents proud.
I had let go of being a “straight arrow,” and the idea of having it all figured out. I outgrew tradition and cultural norms. Sometimes, those things can be so blinding.
I began to shift. I adopted and altered the things that aligned with my purpose and values.
I became risk-tolerant instead of risk-averse.
I canceled my fears.
I welcomed uncertainty, knowing I would always land on my feet.
This newfound level of confidence came out of nowhere. It was no longer a question of if I can do this. The question became, how can I do this? I stayed open to possibilities and opportunities in whichever form they came to me. I became selective and intentional with my time and energy, too. I went from being a 9 to 5 government employee, then a corporate consultant, to a small business owner not once but twice by 2021.
If you ask me who I am now, I would say I am authentically a creative. I write from my heart, and I speak from my core. My voice is my power, and my words hold weight. By trade, I am a paralegal and a business consultant.
How Trauma Shows Up in the Body
Even though I was able to heal my heart, my mind, and my spirit, I wasn’t quite done healing. And I didn’t even know it. In the last seven years, I gained weight. This was a direct result of a broken heart, emotional trauma, mental health issues, stress, and poor lifestyle choices. I was a good 50 pounds overweight, too. I knew something was wrong with my body when it stopped responding to my dietary and lifestyle efforts.
I started to advocate for my health in the winter of 2022 to get clarity and answers. I sought the care of medical specialists, asked the right questions, requested second opinions, and tested and retested my blood. Not one doctor could properly diagnose me, either.
When Western medicine failed me, I chose holistic medicine. What I learned and what I understood was that my physical health issues were a straight-up trauma response. I cried. I was always conscious about my health, and now I’m sick with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Yes, PTSD triggers and is linked to autoimmune diseases.
I remember thinking, “I did this to myself, and I have to fix it.”
I spent the majority of 2023 detoxing with Chinese herbs, making every lifestyle change possible. My body was holding on to dead weight – it had to go for me to continue to become.
Courtesy of Camille Ali
Summer 2023 couldn’t come any faster. I completed my holistic detox with sacrifice and ease. While everyone saw just a “body transformation,” for me, it was an emotional release.
I was no longer reminded of what transpired. I cried again.
There were so many days, months, and years that I thought I would never get me back. And I believed it. I mean, who wouldn’t? Medical experts adamantly told me that there was nothing wrong with me. All I wanted was to feel like myself again. I missed me so badly.
I looked for me everywhere. I couldn’t find her until I paused and did the inner work.
I wouldn’t change one thing about my healing journey. It all had to happen so I could be in this current moment. And this girl right here – I know exactly who she is. I know what she stands for through and through. And I’ll never stray from that.
I’ve grown so much, yet in some ways, I’m rediscovering who this girl is again. It’s so intoxicating.
Courtesy of Camille Ali
Returning to Europe
I have always wanted to go back to Europe. Europe is a magical place to be. It's the energy, the people, and the lifestyle for me. But the timing wasn’t right. It took the wedding of a close friend of mine to make my return happen. I returned to Europe in August 2023. This time to Greece.
At first, I didn’t realize the significance of the timing. But make no mistake, this was alignment, a full circle moment, and a testimony to myself. I started a healing journey in August 2019, and I returned as a completely different person this year.
Happy, whole, and healed. Resilient and confident.
I knew I was meant to share a pivotal moment in my friend’s life and celebrate myself. My word for 2023 was joy, and I wanted all of it. More importantly, I deserved it.
I fell in love with everything all over again. Everything that I can see, hear, smell, touch, and taste, that is. I created moments and memories. And I felt each moment and memory deeply in new places and with new faces. Greece owed me absolutely nothing. Europe will always and forever have a special place in my heart.
My five-year healing journey taught me to always choose myself. I am grateful because my entire journey brought me home to myself. And one thing about me is that when I am in the right environment — I thrive. Always.
The journey to self-discovery is worth the uncomfortable moments and ugly crying. It’s worth the undoing, redoing, and reprocessing to finally come to a place of happiness, peace, and being comfortable in your own skin.
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Featured image by AzmanJaka/Getty Images