Level one of "Being a grown up omg lol how do I adult?" is getting an apartment. Level two is getting your own apartment, a space for which you are solely responsible. We don't talk about this as often as we talk about the former, as not many people do it (or can afford it) but when the circumstances line up, it is a bittersweet kind of privilege that comes with a whole host of interesting issues and challenges. Sure, it's fun to decorate your own place and not have to worry about roommates when you stumble home with someone after a date, but you're also then responsible for maintaining that well-decorated space on your own, and keeping yourself safe when someone heads back.
To live on your own is to learn how to be your own best friend, mother, caretaker, financial advisor, interior designer, at-home nurse and life coach. It's being responsible, sure, but it's also how to love yourself and how to balance all the aspects of your life that are suddenly on your shoulders. It's no longer a game of just figuring out how to survive — you have to be focused on how to also thrive, because you're the only one responsible not only for the essentials, but for actually maintaining a quality of existence. Nothing pushes us toward this faster than realizing that nobody's going to be there to save us (so to say) and so that's why it's the point at which people truly begin to turn their lives around themselves. This, and all the other things that happen when you live by yourself for the very first time:
You Become Undeniably Disgusting
You sit in your underwear and watch Netflix for entire Saturdays at a time and leave the take out from last night on the coffee table to fester for another 24 hours, and you sincerely do not give a sh*t. In fact, you find something oddly liberating about not having to clean up your "shared spaces" anymore. Being gross makes it truly feel like home.
Yet At The Same Time, You Are Fiercely Protective Of Your Space
So you rotate between being gross for a weekend then wanting things to be immaculately clean, as this is your space now, and you're responsible for it. You want it to represent who you are, which, in your dream world, is a very put together person who doesn't let Chinese food rot on their coffee table until Monday afternoon.
You Shop At Home Decor Stores With The Regularity And Vigor As You Do For Clothes
In fact, the likes of the home goods aisle that you spend three hours in every two weeks becomes your life sustaining force. There is nothing else to describe the joy of bringing home a holiday wreath or pumpkin spice candles or some random and unnecessary detail that makes your space so "you."
You Feel Lonely Sometimes
Really, actually lonely. And you learn to be OK with that. You learn to be your own friend. You learn to eat dinner by yourself and go to movies alone and in that, you find an incredible amount of solace: if you can do this, you can do anything.
You Have Some Insane Escape Plan For The Apocalypse
You hear one bang at night or a weird, intense knock on the door and assume your murderer has finally come for you. It's in these moments that you begin planning the beginning of your end, which always surrounds you getting in your car or on a train and traversing some uncharted terrain but all after you miraculously escape your building while zombies attack and your neighbors break open the windows for food. (You've thought of it, don't lie.)
You Build Unprecedented Confidence
You pay your bills by yourself. You cook dinner, and clean, and work, and honestly, it's hard to have a family and be responsible for a lot of people, but being responsible just for yourself (aka, not having anyone to really fall back on) takes an entirely different kind of strength, one that you are building gradually (but surely).
You Realize That Living Alone Isn't Something A Lot Of People Do
We're tribal beings. We live in families and communities. Living alone (especially if you're a woman) is a weird and liberating and not altogether normal, typical ordeal. Yeah, it gets lonely sometimes, yeah the pressure is intense. But damn, if it isn't worth it for what you walk away with in the end.
... Yet It's A Really Special Time That Shouldn't Be Taken For Granted
You may not live alone forever. You may find a partner or have a kid or find a really cool friend you want to share a place with. You may spend the next five years traveling and not settle for another five after that. The thing is that you don't know, but there's so much to take advantage of while you live on your own. Don't let that moment pass you by.