10 Things I Learned My First Year Living Alone in NYC

Wow. A year ago today I officially got the keys to my apartment and I must have cried for an entire month because I was so damn grateful. I’m so glad I recorded this moment because I can look back at this video and remember my exact feelings AND ugly Kim K cry and how happy I felt starting this new chapter. If you never got to watch this video, please watch!

Those of you who went to my vision board workshop you know how hard of a process getting my apartment was. If it wasn’t for two very special people who I’d like to think of as my little earth angels I literally wouldn’t have been able to move in to my place, so shout-out to them - you know who you are!

This past year living on my own in New York (the Bronx to be exact) has been incredible and eye-opening. I seriously can’t even believe I live on my own sometimes! It definitely has had it’s up and downs but I swear to you I would not change it for the world. Living on my own has been the best thing that has ever happened to me. Here are nine things I learned my first year living alone.

1. Being alone is not the same as being lonely

When you first move in you’re all excited for this new chapter and then it hits you. You live ALONE. By your damn self. SHIT. I feel lonely AF! But being alone and feeling lonely is not the same thing. Let me explain… Being alone is often confused with loneliness because we believe that having people around us is the key to happiness. 

On the other hand, loneliness is more of a feeling than a physical state. It’s sadness stemming from isolation or abandonment which can often lead to depression. Knowing the difference between the two is crucial because being alone is totally ok and it doesn’t mean that you are lonely. A person can be alone without feeling lonely, since alone describes a state of being and lonely describes an emotional response to one’s circumstances. 

2. Balancing Me Time VS Social Time is Crucial

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I personally think finding a balance between being alone and being around others is the key to happiness. Living alone has taught me that while I’m a total extrovert and love being around others, it’s crucial for me to recharge alone and connect to my introverted side and vice versa. Basically I’m an ambivert, a person whose personality has a balance of extrovert and introvert features and if I don’t honor that balance i’m a total shit show.

I now know that if I spend too much time alone, I get bored, but spending too much time around other people leaves me feeling drained. Something that has helped me at balancing the two is forcing myself to lean toward one side of the spectrum when I see that it isn’t happening naturally. I work from home so its very easy for me to go days without human interaction. When I notice that I haven’t left my house in a few days I force myself to go out even if I have to drag myself out. Usually when I come back home I’m super happy because being around others makes me feel good - most of the time LOL. Then there are the days where I’m out every single day for a work or social function and I feel drained after day three. My body, mind, and soul can longer take dealing with human interaction and I just want to be alone for at least 24 hours to recharge. Living alone makes this so much easier because honestly it was so hard to do this when living with family or roommates. I’m so grateful for the chance to be alone when I want to be alone.

3. Make it a HOME but Don’t Go Crazy Trying To Decorate Right Away

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I think the most exciting part about living on your own is decorating your place with your own style. I’ve always wanted to decorate my home in a way that reflected me and what makes me happy and being able to do just that has been so much fun!

While decorating is a ton of fun, don’t put so much pressure trying to make your house a home right away. I spent so much money on things because I wanted to hurry up and decorate and I feel like it was such a waste because a lot of the things I purchased I didn’t even end up liking after I settled in or it didn’t really make sense once I figured out how I truly wanted my space to feel. I’ve been living here for a year and the desk, bathroom cabinet, and vanity mirror that I bought are still in a box or in pieces waiting for me to assemble. I honestly don’t know why I was in such a rush to decorate. I wish I wouldn’t have put so much pressure on myself because here I am a year later still trying to finish decorating (LOL) but I’ve realized that it will get done when it gets done. Also, this is probably a good reminder that I should get back to finishing those projects because my apartment is not too far from being finished. I promise I will do a house tour when it all comes together.

Here’s a sneak peek of what my living room will look like once I’m done buying some key pieces. I’m so grateful to my interior decorator, Julie who helped me bring my vision to life and I can’t wait to finally finish decorating my Caribbean Oasis! Stay tuned.

4. Always keep a Spare Set of Keys or Two

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I tend to be a clumsy person so this was a must and I’m so glad I did. I made two copies of my keys and made sure to keep at least one of them with someone I trust just in case anything happens. This past year I left my keys at an event venue and didn’t realize it until I got home at 2am. Thank god I was able to go grab that spare so I can get inside my apartment. I got my original keys back the next day, but the most recent incident I had didn’t turn out so well. I took Rico out for a long walk since I was out all day on set for a shoot. I guess I must have dropped my keys without noticing during the walk because when I got to my building there were no where to be found. I had to take an uber immediately to go get my spare key so that I could get inside my apartment. THANK GOD FOR THE SPARE KEYS. Now I need to make another copy because I can’t sleep at night knowing I only have two spares and not my original three.

5. Meeting Your Neighbors is a Must

I know we live in a world where knowing your neighbors is not as common as it was back in the day - especially if you live in the suburbs because it’s so easy to isolate yourself but please get to know your neighbors! I’m super grateful that my building is full of people that have literally lived here for decades, so when I moved in everyone noticed of course but they were super friendly and helpful. My immediate neighbors introduced themselves and made sure to let me know they were available if I needed anything. Every time I see them I always say hi and make it a point to connect with them some how.

Besides creating a sense of community, the best part about knowing your neighbors is that you feel a little safer in your building and that they will keep an eye out for you and your home. I’m incredibly grateful for my neighbors, they are truly the best! They have saved me on so many occasions like that one time that I left the keys in the door or that one that one time I forgot to lock my door when I went away on a trip because I was rushing to catch my uber. They always alert me if something is up and hold my packages if I’m not home. My biggest tip would be to be careful about giving out your personal information until you know them well, but once you do don’t be afraid to connect and build community. I love when they knock on my door with a fresh meal and in return I share beauty products from my stash. My neighbors are the best!

6. You Should Invite Friends Over

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I suck at this. Like really suck, but this is so important and something I really need to do more often. The main reason I don’t have friends over is because I feel like my apartment decor is not finished and because it’s not finished my apartment doesn’t look its best. Also, because it’s not always 100% spotless so when people want to come over last minute I get anxiety because OMG my apartment is not perfect and someone is going to see that I didn’t wash my coffee cup from the day before. So ridiculous! I really need to get over myself and invite my friends over. Hosting is fun and it’s definitely something I want to do more of this holiday season. I can literally count on my fingers the amount of people that I’ve had over and it’s pretty sad. At the end of the day I don’t think my friends care about my place being Pinterest worthy or not. They just want to hang out and spend time together. Who cares about the setting being perfect?

7. If You’re Single, Go Out Even if You Don’t Have a Reason To

If you’re single and living alone it’s SO EASY to fall into a rut, turn into a hermit and stay in your crab! Especially during the winter months. Funny thing is most of us who are actively looking for a partner or at least trying to anyway are at home watching Netflix wondering when is Bae going to show up in our lives, yet we make zero efforts of leaving our house - HA!

This Fall & Winter I’m going to try just a little bit harder at going out, even if I don’t have a specific reason to. I don’t know where I’m going to meet my future boo at but I know damn well it won’t be in my apartment.

8. Your Phone is NOT your Roommate

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It’s so easy to sit at home for hours on end scrolling through social media because you’re bored or alone with nothing to do. Scrolling through social media makes you feel like you’re doing something because your living vicariously through other people and what they are doing, but reality is you need to put the damn phone down and go do something. Try a new workout, cook a new recipe, check something off your bucket list. I don’t care what it is but put your phone down and do something. You don’t need to constantly be acknowledging your phone and making small talk with it when you’re home to pass time. Your phone is not your roommate!

9. I Hate Cleaning & That’s OK

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This one is hard to admit, but it’s the truth. Ok maybe I don’t totally hate cleaning because I LOVE the way my space feels when I do, I just hate how much time I feel like I’m wasting by doing so when I could be doing other fun things. I procrastinate on cleaning because it feels tedious, but when I finally crank up the bachata or salsa, put my gloves on and get to work I notice that after an hour into it I can’t stop and just start cleaning and organizing my life away. I spend the entire day cleaning and just feel like my day was wasted in the best and worse way possible. Yay to having a clean apartment, boooooo to having to have spent my whole Saturday or Sunday doing it.

Even though cleaning is hella boring I notice that when my home is clean I feel good. I feel grown AF. I feel like I slayedddd adulting for the day and I sleep and wake up so peacefully. It’s very easy to lose motivation and not care about your space because you don’t have anyone to say shit to you about it, but I feel like you are doing yourself a disservice when you are not honoring your home and pickup up the mess. Taking pride in my home has helped me become less lazy about keeping up with it which in turn has helped me feel at peace and more balanced. I feel like the more clutter and mess you have the more stagnant energy is in your space and that is big NO for me. I can’t have that type of energy in my home!

Two solutions to this “cleaning is boring” dilemma would be to hire someone to deep clean monthly so that all I have to is light clean or to break up my cleaning chores throughout the week so I don’t spend the entire weekend cleaning. I think I rather pay someone to do it! My goal before the end of the year is to finish decorating and to get rid of unnecessary items by way of decluttering so I can finally have someone in here doing cleaning on the regular. I cannot wait!

10. Embrace this Chapter and Live Your Best Life

I feel like there’s a stigma surrounding women who live alone. Living by myself doesn’t mean I’m that I don’t have friends, that I can’t get a man, or that my dog is my life (even though I love his crazy ass to pieces). What it does mean is that I’m GROWN AF ok? I’m capable of paying my own bills - maybe not on time ALL the time since the Entrepreneur struggle is still real but praise the lord for all the opportunities coming my way for more stable income, (that’s another post in itself). Halleloo! Living by myself means doing things on my terms and not having anyone tell me what I should or shouldn’t do. I work my ass off and take care of myself AND my dog (who is not cheap to own btw) and I’m doing a pretty good job if I do say so myself.

This topic is hard to discuss at times because most of us who come from a Latin household are expected to stay at home with our parents until we get married. I’ve personally always known that I wanted to get married and have kids, but I always craved living on my own before that chapter began so the fact that I am actually doing it is truly amazing.

I can’t even begin to tell you how HAPPY I am that this is my current life. I never thought that I’d be so happy to sit in the living room in my bata with a cup of Bustelo in hand listening to Soulection and enjoying every second of my singleness and living alone. This chapter in my life feels so damn empowering! I’m SO PROUD OF MYSELF for being able to live on my own, especially in New York City. Do you know the amount of hustle and courage it takes to be living in one of the most expensive and fast-paced cities in the world? GIRL! That alone is a damn accomplishment and something no one can ever take away from me so you better believe I’m enjoying every second of it.

Living on my own has allowed me figure out who I truly am. I’ve grown so much mentally and emotionally this past year without anyone’s judgement or influence over my life and it’s such a beautiful feeling. No matter where life takes me, I know I will look back at this time in my life with so much gratitude because it made me an even better version of myself. My only hope is that everyone gets to experience this at least once in their life because it truly is magical.

You may be reading this and perhaps living on your own is something that you never considered because being alone scares you, but I hope this celebratory post has shed some light on how beautiful this journey could be.

Thanks for being along with me on this ride over this past year Vecinas. I still can’t get over the fact that there is so much love in my home because of you all and all the sweet housewarming gifts you all sent me. Mil gracias! I love you all so much. Thanks for reading!

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Ada Rojas4 Comments