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Living in an apartment by myself for the first time has made me much more aware of my surroundings.

With no one but myself to explore the various noises of the night, the simple echoes and thuds of neighbors turn into something quite eerie depending on the time. While I’ve always triple checked my locks and windows, the reality of living alone is that there is no one else to cover what you may have missed.

Falling asleep with your blinds open usually leads to nothing more than a particularly bright morning, but the thought of being on display for the outside world makes protecting yourself all the more important.

If you have a fear of the dark as I do, you may find yourself irrationally afraid of the way your furniture looks in the middle of the night against the glow of the television. While my new apartment has given me a sweet sense of solitude and independence, I also find myself looking around the room before I sleep to make sure nothing is moving.

Step one to getting comfortable by yourself is knowing that your apartment is not a meeting place for the supernatural. Any skeptic can be shaken to their core upon having a night terror or hearing an unfamiliar sound, but sleeping with the lights on for a few nights will usually dispel any suspicions of peculiar activity that you may have.

You will soon realize that the shapes on your balcony that are visible from your bed are nothing more than the moonlight playing tricks on you.

If tangible fears are more your style, you must first realize that your neighbors can see you with your lights on. This was never a huge problem for me as I learned quickly that blinds usually do their job, but now that I am alone, I’ve found myself all too aware of gaps of light streaming into my living room and wondering what they look like from the other side.

If you know your neighbors, this may not worry you, but if you’re new like I am, feeling your way around them can prove to be difficult.

My most recent panic was waking up to what sounded like thumping footsteps outside my upstairs apartment that seemed to come from downstairs. Was someone coming home? I didn’t hear any keys chiming or doors opening, yet I never heard the thumping again. Strange occurrences such as this are less strange when you have a roommate or a family member to share them with, and maximized when there is so little separating you from nighttime.

Depending on which area of a complex you live in, whether it’s more secluded from the rest or facing a busy street, you will either feel entirely visible to a passersby or perhaps too sectioned off from outside noises that may give you comfort.

The biggest adjustment to living alone is realizing that you are essentially not alone at all. You may hear your neighbors coming home, bringing in groceries or perhaps even having conversations.

Good luck singing in the shower if your bathroom is against the next apartment. These worries eventually become nothing more than the natural way of things. You and your neighbors will most likely figure out each other’s shower schedule by the end of the semester. Perhaps you could turn that into an icebreaker if you want to get to know them.

All in all, a nightmare or a thud from downstairs will not deter me from having my independent fun. I don’t believe in supernatural occurrences, but when you live alone you inevitably become hyperaware of unexplainable noises and shifts in the atmosphere. While my first few nights alone were nerve-wracking at best, I’ve developed a sense of oneness with the noises of my place. If the spirits want to join me for a glass of wine and a nightly viewing of The Golden Girls, I am here to stay.

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