Two weeks ago, Kathy shared about being a TCA (Third Culture Adult). If you missed that article, you can read it here. This week, I got to chat with my good friend, Cissy, and find out what it is like to live alone in this loud, bustling city of Beijing.
First of all, Cissy, how long have you been in Beijing? And what do you do here?
I have been in Beijing for five years and I am a product designer.
Cool! How long have you lived alone for?
I have lived alone for seven years.
Then by now you must be quite the expert! What are the advantages and disadvantages of living alone?
The advantages are that you come back to the house exactly as you left it and you have a lot of personal space and quiet time. Your home is your refuge from the chaotic city of Beijing
The disadvantage is that when you are sick, there is no one there to help you. Thank goodness for the Chinese takeout apps on those days!
So what led you to the decision to live alone?
I am an introvert, so I have always enjoyed time alone, time to reflect, and time to do things that I enjoy. Living alone you can do whatever you want, and it does not annoy anyone else.
It must be nice to have that freedom! Do you like hosting people or do you prefer to keep your space for yourself?
I love doing both. I love having my apartment as my refuge, but I also like inviting a few friends over every now and then to chat and catch up on life.
A common understanding about living alone that many people have, is that it would be really lonely. Is loneliness ever a factor for you? How do you combat it, if so?
There are times when we feel lonely, there are no exceptions about that. But living alone or living with a roommate does not make the feeling of loneliness go away. When I feel lonely I try to find the root of it, rather than let the feeling dictate my actions.
When we put our focus on God and ask Him to reveal the root of the issue, instead of depending on our feelings, it is easier for us to see what we really need to deal with.
Constantly seeking the root of our negative feelings is so important. That leads me to another understanding many people have, that living alone is more expensive and therefore impossible to do. Have finances ever been a struggle for you since moving out on your own? How do you manage your finances differently living alone?
So often we never second-guess the root of our decisions. The world tells us that we need to make decisions solely based on money and we rarely doubt that. It is easier to put a value on a decision than to see what we need in order to be effective in what we do, or who we are. Considering how much you can afford is important, but it is also important to consider other factors as well before deciding to live alone or with roommates.
Finances has always been a struggle for me growing up, so naturally it has dictated a lot of the decisions that I have made. But for the past few years in Beijing, God has taught me how to make a realistic budget—one that is not too hard on myself, but also is not too extravagant.
It sounds like God is really teaching you a lot! What is the most significant lesson living alone has taught you?
The most significant lesson living alone has taught me, is that it is important to learn how to live with yourself. In our chaotic world a lot of things can drown out our thoughts, and especially our doubts. It is when we are quiet and alone that we have time to ponder these things. These thoughts and doubts are deep down in our heart. Not facing them does not mean they will disappear. Being able to face them and ask God for answers has helped me immensely during my journey toward finding my identity in Christ.
Finally, what advice do you have for people who are considering finding their own place?
“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?”
If you are not in a hurry or if you can crash at a friend’s place for the time being, don’t rush into a contract. Especially not in China. Leave room for God to surprise you, provide for you, and pour favour over you. If you try to take care of everything (and you can’t), there is no room for God to show off how much He loves you and how much He can do.
That is wise advice that we can apply to other areas of life, besides apartment-hunting! Well Cissy, thank you so much for sharing this week. I hope readers thinking about living alone found this read to be helpful!
If you have any ideas to share or questions to ask, post in the comments section below or send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org