10 Lessons You Learn Living Alone in Your Twenties

Renting my own apartment last fall was a big step for me. Although I moved out of my home when I was 18, I spent five years living in dorm rooms, shared apartments and group houses. Going from having multiple roommates to none is a pretty big transition, and while it's not always the most fun, I don't think I'll ever go back to sharing my space. Cat and future husband excluded of course.

The various places I lived in throughout college taught me how lucky I was once to live with my mom, leaving her to have to deal with buying basic necessities like toilet paper. cleaning supplies and dish soap. You learn you need all that stuff pretty quickly, but some lessons you have to learn a few times. Like how important it is to make sure you take the trash out the night before the garbage truck comes. Unless you enjoy the look of trash bags piling up in your kitchen.

Over the past few months I've learned a lot about what it takes to live the dream, cause isn't this what I always wanted? My own apartment in a trendy city where there's always something going on and someone new to meet. Or at least that's what we're told to want. I am in no way saying living alone isn't great, but it definitely isn't all it's made up to be all the time

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Lesson 1: Living alone is a luxury, so be ready to pay for it.

Going in I knew my new apartment was going to literally take half of my monthly salary, and it hasn't gotten any easier. Luckily I have a great job that allows me to rent my own private studio apartment, but I hadn't factored in the miscellaneous expenses like internet, cable, cleaning supplies and all the adorable crap at Target that I need not want.

Lesson 2: You must lean to rely on yourself.

When it's 6am and you're getting ready for work and the power suddenly goes out, you better be ready to deal with that on your own. Don't be an idiot, buy a toolbox, a flashlight and some candles that do more than make your apartment smell like red velvet cake. Trust me, you'll thank me later. Learn how to turn the power back on yourself, it will save you the embarrassment of calling your landlord while looking like a drowned cat.

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Lesson 3: You have no one to blame but yourself.

Oh you're short on rent? Maybe you shouldn't have had brunch every weekend. Is your sink full of dishes? Your mom was right, you are a slob. When you live alone you can't blame a gross bathroom on roommates and pretend like those pots and pans aren't yours. You will at one point in time scold yourself for letting the place get so dirty, don't worry about it, we're all turn into our mothers eventually.

Lesson 4: You actually enjoy coming home to a clean apartment.

Before my family ever went on any sort of vacation my mom would force us all to clean the house. It was as cruel of torture that is allowed to inflict on a seven year old. Now, I get it. There is no better feeling than coming home from a miserably long day at work and opening the door to find your clean apartment. No shoes to trip on, no dirty dishes to look at, no pile of laundry to remind you it needs folding. This one you just have to experience to fully understand.

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Lesson 5: You will find new ways to have fun.

Something happened between me living with all my closest friends and me living on my own, but I feel as if I aged at least 7 years. I was never the type to stay out until 2am and bar hop, but I also used to be able to comfortably stay up past midnight. Last Sunday I literally spent the day gardening, ie planting some succulents, and leisurely dressing my bed in its new sheets and comforter set. It was the most fun I had all weekend and dammit I might do the same thing next Sunday!

Lesson 6: You will discover who your true friends are.

Before moving out on my own I never imagined that by doing so I would figure out who in my life was truly there for me, but I did. My move was a bit more dramatic than most, I not only got my own apartment, I also relocated 3000 miles away from home. Before then though it was so easy to get together with friends, we either shared a house or lived blocks from one another. Now on my own I notice that it's my real friends that make the trip across town to see me, call me all the way from California to make sure I'm still alive, and overall make an effort to keep in touch with me despite the distance, big or small.

Lesson 7: You will lead by example.

If you're in your early twenties you can relate to having friends at every stage of adulthood. Some will still be trying to finish college, others will be recent graduates living at home, with strangers or successfully on their own. Before moving to Washington DC I was like most, trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life while aiming to make it look like I had it all figured out. Now most days I have random friends, and some I would barely call acquaintances, messaging me on social media about how I found an apartment in the city, my thoughts on attending grad school right after college and if I knew of any websites to job hunt on.

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Lesson 8: You will become your own best friend, hero, activist.

In college when I saw a giant spider or evil lizard I knew I could scream and have three other girls my age with brooms in hand to help me fight it off. Nowadays I have a cat who thinks the intruder is a toy and a pair of heels I keep at arms reach to smash it with. Living alone means killing your own pests, talking yourself up to do it, then convincing yourself you deserve a treat for being so brave.

Lesson 9: You will either constantly talk about wanting a pet or talk about your pet.

Growing up I had a pet cat, and with a sister much older than me, this cat was basically my best friend. All through college I wanted to adopt an animal but knew I couldn't afford it, so I waited. Ten years after the passing of my childhood pet I was finally financially able to afford an animal, so with my first paycheck deposited into my bank account I ran to the shelter. Now I have Max, the only guy who listens to my rants, deals with my messy habits, puts up with my bed hogging and is happy to see me even if I've only been gone a minute. If you can, adopt an animal. Trust me, you won't regret it for a moment.

Lesson 10: You will miss this time in your life.

When I moved into my apartment I was in a long term relationship, with a guy that had no day job or responsibilities that required him to wake up when I did or go to bed when I needed to. This meant I was very rarely alone in my apartment. At the time I didn't mind, it wasn't until he dumped me that I realized how gratifying it can be to spend an entire day alone. Not having to worry about putting on pants, lowering the volume or making enough food for two is a time in your life you shouldn't take for granted. So while significant others can be wonderful, don't waste the time to yourself by wishing you had someone to share it with.



What's one thing you learned about yourself when you started living on your own? 

5 comments

  1. All true! I had roommates in college but lived alone in law school and after. Getting Hawkeye was the best decision, I talked/talk to her constantly. I've had her for 6 years now so I don't even remember life without her. Shelter pets are the best!!

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    1. I talk to my cat so much that the security guard in my building just assumed I had a roommate. So embarrassing, but hey, Max is a great listener.

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  2. You will most definitely miss this time in your life. I lived alone for a little over a year and it was by far one of the best things I've ever done for myself. Also one of the most fun, but hardest, times in my adult life. I think everyone should experience living alone- so much growth happens!

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  3. All of these are so true! Living alone, while it can be lonely at times, is really the best. You learn so much about yourself and become so much more responsible. And having a pet does really make all the difference!

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