What I’ve learned in the first week of living by myself

On October 1st, I met with my very first landlord ever in my very first apartment ever. . . all by myself. She greeted me with her husband and lovely dog (the latter of whom has a tendency to bark at everything), gave me the keys, told me to text them if I needed anything, and walked out. Suddenly, without that loveable-yet-loud dog there, it was so quiet. I stood there in my entirely empty apartment, by myself.

And then I said aloud, “Holy sh*t, this is my apartment.”

I’m a 23-year-old graduate who went from living with roomies in college housing to living with my parents to suddenly living on my own, entirely alone. The past week has certainly been a whirlwind, and here’s what I’ve learned from it.

It’s crazy exciting to have a blank slate.

No matter your previous living situation, when you live alone for the first time, you’re going to have way less stuff — or, at least, useful, need-this-for-your-apartment stuff — than you thought you did. You’ll suddenly become keenly aware of just how many essential things your roommates owned, and you may have way less decor than you expected with all these walls to fill.

At first, this can seem totally overwhelming, especially when you write down a list of things you need to go out and buy (“Microwave, toaster, vacuum, couch, that thing that holds paper towels, pretty things for my very blank walls. . . I can get all this at Ikea, right?! RIGHT?!”). However, once you get a plan, it can actually be awesome. You get to decide exactly what you want without having to consult anyone else. Want a neon yellow armchair just because? Go for it. You get to choose what goes in your apartment, because it’s your place. There’s something so self-actualizing about being able to fill a blank slate entirely on your own.

You’ll start to seriously understand why people are so into going antiquing and hitting up yard sales. 

I never really understood people who got ridiculously excited when they found a vase they like for cheap at a vintage shop. Like, yeah, it’s pretty, but it’s a vase; how often are you even going to use that?

When you live on your own, you suddenly realize that you don’t have a lot of these things that, sure, you’re not going to use ultra often, but you should still have. I had a moment where I was like, “Hey, I like flowers, and damn it, I can buy myself flowers and put them in a pretty vase. . . except I don’t have a vase.” You’re going to have SO MANY of those moments, and if you buy stuff like that at an upscale home decor place, you’ll end up spending a ton of money. But you don’t want to buy just any old vase! It’s your vase; you’ll have it for years and years!

When you live on your own, you understand the thrill of buying the *perfect* thing you love for cheap. NOTHING BEATS IT. Trust me.

It’s incredibly important to figure out a plan for your bills.

When I was at home with my parents, the only (consistent) bills I had to worry about were my car bill, car insurance, and student loans. However, once you move in by yourself, you have to worry about a ton more bills — rent, electric, gas, and any other utilities you may need to pay — and there’s no roomie there to remind you.

Even if money isn’t an issue for you, it’s important to sit down and figure out a system — whether it’s autopay or just a budget calendar — so you don’t accidentally forget to pay a bill and get landed with a big ol’ late fee.

Living alone can be awesome one minute and terrifying the next.

I’m certainly an introvert and need my time alone, so I thought that living by myself would be the dream. However, although a lot of days I dance around grinning like an idiot, there have definitely been some days where it’s been rough, and I’ve felt lonely without constant company. What I’ve learned is that it’s totally normal. If you feel lonely, you can just call up someone and see if they can hang out, or chat with a family member who you haven’t caught up with in a while. Your new home is not jail — you can leave if you want to!

Having only your own mess to deal with is THE BEST THING EVER.

Ever wince in disgust at someone’s hair in the drain? No more of that, because if there’s hair in the drain, it’s yours. (Still gross, but not as gross.) Cleaning the place is a breeze now, because you’re the only one making messes, and you can clean at your own pace. That said, it helps a lot to clean as you make a mess. Clean the dish right after you eat — it only takes a minute, and your future self will thank you.

Ultimately, you’ll learn more about yourself than you ever have when you live alone.

It’s only been a week, and I feel as though I’ve gotten to know myself better than ever. Every single day, I am granted multiple opportunities to consider what I want, without a single ounce of pressure from anyone else.

I take back my earlier statement — the best feeling isn’t finding the perfect vase. The best feeling is realizing that you freaking love your own company. <3

(Image via CBS.)