5 Lessons I've Learned From The First 5 Months Living On My Own

Many kids move out of their parents' house by age 18 when they head off for their freshman year of college. I didn't. I chose to stay in my hometown to attend The Evergreen State College, a liberal arts college in Olympia, Washington, so naturally I made the smart move to save money by living at home for the first two years of my college career.

Then, the time had come and it was my time to move on. I had met the love of my life and we decided to take the next leap, leaving our comfortable nests. We solidified a move-in date: January 1, 2015--a special date celebrating a brand new year. We shared some of the biggest changes in our lives together: I started my very first internship, he started college and got a promotion to Assistant Manager at work, on top of keeping an apartment clean and organized.

While I knew living on my own would be difficult, I didn't know exactly what to expect, which leads me to the following five lessons I've learned in the first five months of living on my own!

1. Don't flush the toilet twice when clogged. I've never known how to correctly plunge a toilet--go ahead, call me ignorant! No matter how much force and might I use, I still cannot seem to unclog what's stuck in there good. One night, I made the mistake of flushing a toilet filled to the brim with water (and waste). Let's just say: not a pretty mess to clean up. I should have waited for the man of the house to return...

2. Never broil anything without the fan turned on and the windows open. Within the first few weeks of our move-in, I decided to recreate my dad's famous "Tofu Tidbits"--chunks of broiled, marinated tofu, great for all sorts of meals. Little did I realize, when you turn your oven onto broil mode and keep the door open at a tilt, your apartment is bound to fill up with heat and smoke. The smoke alarm went off, which resulted in a pretty frantic phone call.

3. Neighbors aren't always the greatest. I learned this third lesson when I went to leave for my internship one morning and a neighbor's guest had parked his large truck behind my car, preventing an escape. Luckily, he noticed I was outside and came out to move it, however, the initial thought-process baffles me. The same parking layout occurred another time, followed by him asking when I would return home and if he could park his car in my assigned spot for a while. Mind you: visitor parking spots are a block's distance away.

4. Garbage SMELLS. Garbage disposals, on the other hand, are for food waste.

We don't even need to go over this one. It's embarrassing enough that I used our garbage can for food scraps four months in a row. However, in my defense I will state that this is coming from someone who grew up composting.

5. You can survive without television. Although some might disagree, television is a luxury that not everyone needs. I would much rather spend my money on quality, organic produce than pay an extra $30 for cable or satellite TV. Hulu and Netflix is more than satisfying. Even though I lived the first 14 years of my life without any television at all, this was an important and tough choice to make.

These are very obviously NOT first-world problems, but they were learning curves for me and the lifestyle I was accustomed to growing up. I'm looking forward to the next five months and all of the challenges they may hold.

What did you learn when you moved out of your parents' house? Impart your wisdom!