First Steps by Myself: Living Alone for the First Time

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At 24 years old, I never truly felt like an adult. I mean, I left my hometown for college, I’ve had full-time jobs, I’ve paid my own phone bill since I was 18, and I just got my driver's license (I’m from the Bronx — it’s a city thing). But even after a few years of checking off all the “adulting” items from life’s list, I still don’t know what it truly feels like to be an adult.

It wasn’t until the beginning of this year that I started realizing so much more about myself that I hadn’t known, and understanding that “adulting” isn’t all that real.

"In the beginning, I was terrified, and I didn’t think I was going to make it on my own for very long."

Just a few months ago, I accepted my dream opportunity to work in production for a television show. The job is based in Washington, D.C., and without hesitation I packed two suitcases and moved to my own place to pursue the position. It was only when my mom left my new apartment, after helping me settle in for a week, that it hit me: I am living alone, I have to pay my own rent, buy groceries, cook, clean, budget, buy furniture… What had I done?

If I’m being honest, I wasn’t ready for such a big change in my life. Back home living with my mom and family, I was comfortable. I had my mom who would wake me up with breakfast on the table, my sister to do stuff on the weekends with, my friends across the street from me, and a neighborhood that saw me grow up. In a split second, the life I had quickly became a memory of who I used to be, and suddenly I was sitting alone, in an empty studio apartment, trying to figure out how to set up my own Wi-Fi.

Alone with My Thoughts

Living alone has been one of the most life-changing experiences I have had so far, and I recommend young women try it at some point in their lives. Don’t get me wrong — in the beginning, I was terrified, and I didn’t think I was going to make it on my own for very long. But over time, I learned how to be my own company, my own best friend, and my own person.

I learned that I don’t need much to have fun. I’m in a new city, surrounded by new people and new views. Taking long walks and admiring life's simple moments has been my favorite part. Lighting candles, experimenting with different color schemes, and trying new dinner recipes is my new form of self-care. Being alone with my own thoughts was a challenge, but learning to understand my emotions and change my perspective has been so important.

I am living in a moment that I will remember forever. These are the moments that I will look back on and share with my future daughter, and give her life lessons on what your 20s are really about. What I’ve come to love most about living alone is that each day is an opportunity to learn something new about myself. Even on the bad days, I know that there is no place or moment I would rather be having, and although there are times where I still don’t know what I’m doing, I realize it’s not about “adulting” ... it’s just about growing.

Tags: Courage, Personal Growth, Career, Career

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Written By

Claribel Rivas

Claribel is a social media manager in the Washington D.C. area who incorporates her cultural influences into her creative content. See Full Bio

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