Over a year into living in a home that’s not my parent’s, I feel like I have finally found a place of comfort. The first half of a year was terrible. I cried almost every night. I was sure I was not cut out for this “adulting”. For someone who never went away for college, I was 21 living with my boyfriend, four hours away from everything I knew for the first time in my life, and I was terrified. But moving away from home was also something I had always wanted to do, so I had to find a way to enjoy it. That didn’t actually happen until almost eight months after moving.
My first tip is to make your house your home. One of the hardest parts of having your first apartment with little money is the comparisons you make between the one bedroom you’re living in, and the beautiful three bedroom your mom kept. Push around the furniture in your living room until it’s exactly how you like it. Decorate the walls anyway your management allows. I hung white and blue Christmas lights around my living space to add a softer lighting, which made me feel more at home on nights that I was seriously homesick. Buy a cheap throw blanket and toss it over the back of your couch. My first couch came from a retirement home auction and a bean bag chair serves as my lounge chair. I found cute throw pillows at Walmart and made sure our bean bag chair was one of my favorite colors. Make sure your living space makes you feel at home.
My second tip: explore your town. It’s tempting to stay inside and watch Netflix all day, I know, I’ve been there. But, step outside. Even if it’s only for an hour a week. Even if it’s only five minutes. Find someplace to explore and make a list of each you enjoy – that way you can always go back to one if you’re feeling complacent. You don’t fall in love with a place by sitting on your couch.
Next, don’t be afraid to fall in love with your new town. Sorry, no pictures for this one, but it’s probably the most important on my list. I self sabotaged for months after first moving. No matter how much I left the house, I always found something to ruin the day. I was always too tired, too hot, too cold – until I realized the problem was me. I was too afraid to fall in love with a place that wasn’t Vermont. What I had to learn over time was that a person can love multiple places at once.
Find things that remind you of home and fill your new place with them. For me, this was pumpkin spice candles and brewing a fresh pot of coffee every morning. I decorated my walls with pictures of my family and places back home I loved. This way I could always be reminded that those things weren’t gone from me, just a bit further away.
And finally, don’t put too much pressure on yourself to “nail” this right away. Often it appears that people move away from their parents and are instantly living their best life. That’s rarely what actually happens. Living away from home is hard. Crying is okay and completely normal. Calling your mom at one in the morning because you just wanted to make the perfect chocolate chip cookie and you can’t remember what her special ingredient was is totally fine. Take this day by day. Keep yourself busy.
Living on your own for the first time can be the most beautiful thing you’ll ever experience. You just have to get through the rough patches first. You’ve got this.