LIFESTYLES — Moving out can be a daunting experience. Whether you’re leaving for college or finding a job in a new city, it’s hard to feel fully prepared to live on your own. Keys might get lost, meals might be missed, and that pile of laundry doesn’t clean itself. Maybe the oven scares you. Or maybe the fact that you won’t have an oven scares you more.
With the recent quarantine forcing me to move back in with my family, I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on my solo-living blunders. The good old days when I took privacy for granted. Sure, living alone can get scary sometimes, but I have learned a lot through it as well.
The following list was compiled through my own experiences, stories from friends, and adults remembering what they learned at this age.
- Meals Happen More Often Than You Think
As a non-cooker, this was a big one for me. Before moving out, my mom insisted on teaching me how to cook. Well, she tried. We never really got around to it. By the time I was faced with my first bowl of pasta and pre-bottled sauce, I thought there must be a better way.
Every one of my first meals outshined the last. Homemade sauces, seared fish, honey-sweet potato mash. You name it, I tried it. The excitement lasted about a week. I got tired of cleaning never-ending piles of dishes and spending what seemed like hours in the kitchen. It seemed like as soon as I was done cleaning up after one meal, I had to start cooking another.
With time, I found out that making obscene amounts of food that could last me a couple days was the best solution. Some meal prepping can really help out with your time management. The biggest take-away I’ve had in the kitchen is that roommates who can cook are a blessing. So are dishwashers.
- You’re Really Not Bad Company
Being alone with yourself for extended periods of time can be scary. Your wandering mind can lead you down some rabbit holes. However, learning to love (or at least tolerate) your own company can bring several things into your life.
Much needed downtime alone can help you sort your thoughts about difficult situations. Being able to reflect on things with no interruptions will sometimes lead to new discoveries. Maybe you learn you don’t really hate purple after staring at that rug your mom got you for hours. Maybe you finally get to reading that book you can’t remember getting, only to find it’s your new favorite thing. Maybe you find comfort in deciding after another hour that you do, indeed, hate that rug after all.
Time to think and sort out your feelings can help calm stress. It will give you answers that can only be found written on blank walls.
- Anything Goes
This one is a blessing and a curse. Anything goes means you make your own decisions. That’s right, no one will tell you it’s a bad idea to eat an entire pizza at two in the morning. You can suddenly start buying white bread instead of that whole-grain loaf your mom bought every single week. You don’t feel like carrying an umbrella? Leave it at home! You can also forget about setting alarms because you are sleeping in tomorrow.
However, it also means you’re probably getting zero sleep after your 2 a.m. pizza. You’re also probably going to get caught in the rain without proper equipment. Oh, and you’ll probably miss your lecture in the morning because you didn’t set your alarm. About that loaf… yeah just keep getting your white bread.
You are free to make decisions, as crazy or tame as they may be, but you also have to deal with the consequences. That’s okay though, that’s how you learn. Maybe next time you’ll think twice about taking that umbrella with you.
- The End Of The Day Is The Loneliest
Even though you might have learned to keep your own company, loneliness will still get you sometimes. Several friends have told me that the loneliest part of their day was at the end of it. That’s when those spiraling thoughts can get to you. Maybe coming home to a dinner for one makes you wish there was someone with you. Personally, it was lying in silence, cloaked in darkness that made me painfully aware that I was alone.
That’s okay though. Those feelings mean you’re alive. It is when you feel like this that you must recognize your need to reach out. Text your best friend, call your mom, or play your favorite slow song and just embrace it. Sometimes you need to feel this. Sometimes there’s nothing else you can do.
- You’re Capable Of More Than You Think
Perhaps the biggest thing to come of my inquiries was this last lesson. We tend to underestimate our abilities severely, but having no one else to rely on means we get to prove ourselves wrong.
I remember moving apartments for the first time. We had put everything at the new place before the semester ended, but nothing was built yet. So I came into the apartment after a nine hour flight to a deconstructed bed. None of my college friends had arrived yet and the worst part was, I had no instruction manual. So in all my exhausted glory, I single handedly built the bed on my own. Everytime I layed down on it, I thought: yeah, I built this with my own hands.
It’s not always a bed. Sometimes it is figuring out the dishwasher. Other times it is paying your first electricity bill alone. Having only yourself to count on pushes you out of your comfort zone, and teaches that you can do things you never dreamed of.