5 Things I Learned In My First “Adult” Apartment

Welp. I move tomorrow. More accurately: I move into the apartment that I will share with my boyfriend tomorrow.

Can you say big step? Because I can.

In all reality, I am so excited for this move. Probably more excited than I’ve ever been about moving, except perhaps for my move to England. I can’t wait for this next step in our lives together. There are no nerves about that, whatsoever.

But there is, if I’m being totally honest, a hint of sadness about saying goodbye to this little blue apartment in the heart of Phoenix. I love the mid century modern feel of my small blue-trimmed complex, nestled at the apex of downtown and Arcadia, where there is a happy hour on every corner. I’m giving up my 4 minute morning commute (7, if I hit the light wrong). I’ll wish I still had the gray brick accent wall in the living room. I’ll miss my little back patio, even though the tree that hangs above it does shed too much.

I’m really glad that I got the chance to live alone. Granted, I didn’t always like it and I oftentimes missed having someone constantly around, but I think everybody should live on their own at least once in their lifetime. Personally, I’m especially grateful that I got to do so when I did, fresh out of college and right when I was figuring out how to navigate “adult” life. It was an important, and transformative, time for me. I learned so much about life, and I learned even more about myself.

So, in the spirit of saying goodbye to a place that taught me oh so much, I though I’d reflect back on what I learned about myself whilst I dwelled in this little, dishwasher-and-laundry-less apartment of mine:

1. How to be alone.
This is perhaps the most important lesson I’ve learned yet in my adult life. You don’t really realize how un-alone you are through childhood and college. People are constantly there, whether it’s parents, siblings, roommates, or friends. Living alone was the first time that I had long stretches, even days, where I barely had any interaction with other people, not including the cat. And at first, when those stretches came along, it was weird. Unsettling, even. But eventually, I learned how to be totally alone, and — beyond that — how to totally enjoy being alone.

I love spending solo weekends baking. Granted, I try to pawn off the baked goods on pretty much anyone I think will eat them, but the actual art of baking is something I really, truly enjoy. And if I can blast a musical soundtrack in the background and sing along, loudly and unapologetically, in the process, it’s all the more fun.

I figured out how to unwind, by myself, after a long day at work. I’m a really big fan of hitting the gym for a de-stressing workout, then coming back and pouring myself a nice glass of wine while I get to work cooking my dinner, with a random sitcom I’ve seen 7 times playing mindlessly in the background.

I learned that I really enjoy cooking for myself, and others. I like the freedom of being able to throw together what you want, without being reliant on a menu or price. I also think it’s oddly therapeutic for me to spend my evenings by the stove.

Essentially, I learned that I really like to be in the kitchen.

2. How to keep clean.
Okay, Mom. You win. Cleaning the bathroom every weekend does have its perks — mainly that you don’t have to put in way too much elbow work when it gets grimy. Maintenance in cleaning, and tidying up, is totally key. I can’t say I still adhere to this rule, because, in the spirit of honesty, I also learned in the past year and a half that I absolutely hate cleaning my floors. (Particularly my fake-wood floors, and particularly because I had a cat that sheds everywhere. It’s just such a hassle.)

That said, I also learned how I like to organize things, whether it be my clothes or the pantry or what have you. It’s funny, because you don’t really consider how, when you live with others, your organizational habits tend to play off one another. Living alone let me have total control of where things were, and that was oddly freeing. I learned what worked for me, and what didn’t.

3. How to budget.
Put this up there with being alone as one of the top lessons I learned while living alone. There’s a unique kind of independence that comes with being solely responsible for everything from the rent to the internet bill to the Spotify monthly fee. There’s no more fallback on your parents, or your roommate, or whoever might be there to pick up the slack if you pull the “I’m in college” card and need a bit of help out. Sure, having a real adult budget is a bit of a reality check, but it’s an utterly important one, and I can proudly say that I have never been more financially stable, or independent, as I am in this moment.

4. My own likes and dislikes.
I’ll admit it: I’m impressionable. If someone I spend a lot of time with likes one thing, the chances are that I will begin to like that thing, too. Or, at least, I did. I think that’s also just a part of being young.

Living alone showed me what things I really do like, and really don’t like. As I mentioned above — I really like wine. I like the taste of it, the elegance of it, and the way it just slightly takes the edge off when you need it to. I like pasta, a lot. And I like finding ways to pair my food, pasta or not, with whatever wine I’m drinking. It’s fun, even if it comes off a bit pretentious for a twenty-three-year-old.

I also like the gym. I can’t justify the steep prices for group classes, and things like yoga and Pilates just don’t quite cut it for me. I like to have a well-rounded workout, and I like having it easily accessible.

I don’t like artsy movies. I dragged myself through them for a while, but I would so prefer a lighthearted comedy or even a silly kids show (as evidenced by the fact that we are currently watching Pokémon). I even like watching sports better than the “edgy” movies I once tried to convince myself I was a fan of.

I like to pray alone. Usually, I’ll get into a spot where I want to spill my guts, first to my diary and then to God, once I’ve had a chance to process exactly where His hand is in it. But I don’t necessarily like to share my deepest prayers with others, even though I do believe in the power of prayer. I’ve actually been challenging myself more in this lately as I’ve asked for prayer for some of the tougher things going on. I’m trying to step away from my concerns that such requests are selfish or attention-seeking and trust in God’s love and the power of His people. But I still like to pray alone, more than anything.

5. How to be myself.
This sounds silly, and I realize that. But I think learning how to be yourself is an essential lesson in life, and it’s one that, unfortunately, maybe people don’t learn until later. I see people my age falling into the rut of being what people “expect” them to be — whether its in their career, their personal lives, or even their own likes and dislikes. And I totally get it. Like I said, I’m impressionable. I, of all people, know how easy it can be. But in the past year and a half or so, I’ve learned that there is no way I’m going to give up something I love, or pretend to like something I can’t stand, just because I’m trying to impress someone or try to make them see me in a certain light. It’s not worth it.

I’m not going to spend years saying I love wine and then all of a sudden change my mind just because my boyfriend doesn’t really drink. Same goes for pasta, or prayer, or the color purple. I love all of those things wholeheartedly. I don’t want to become a walking contradiction, and I don’t think it’s necessary. The people who love me will love my affection for Pikachu just as much as they love that I only pay attention to sports when they get to the championship round. Anyone who doesn’t isn’t really worth it. And while I will be the first to admit this isn’t the easiest lesson to learn, it is certainly one of the most transformative. Once you start accepting yourself, you’ll find yourself immeasurably happier. Just trust me on that one.

So, yes. I’m certainly sad to say goodbye to this chapter in my life, and this cute little apartment. But I can walk away with a small sense of pride, I think, knowing that I did it. I lived alone, for a substantial amount of time, and I loved it, for the most part. I learned a lot, about life and about myself, and I think that’s all that you can ask of each chapter in your life. Now, I can only hope that the next one brings just as much growth as this one did.

I have a really good feeling that it will.

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