Last week I wrote about how travel changed my life, and this week I want to follow that up with the story of how living on my own made me more independent and how it can do the same for you.
Right after traveling alone, I moved away from home to attend grad school which led me to getting my first place and living alone. Talk about throwing yourself into the fire!
I had reached a point in my life where I didn’t want to wait anymore. I spent years unable to move forward because of the bullying, and I finally got tired of feeling like I didn’t have control over my own destiny. And when you’re living on your own it’s all you steering the ship. You have complete control over your life.
Two of the greatest things about living alone is that you’re able to become your true self and you’ll learn more about yourself in the process.
I was so ready to live alone…except that I wasn’t.
Just as I was scared to go on the trip I wrote about in the previous post, I was scared to move away from home for the first time. I didn’t do this until the age of 25 since I didn’t go away to college. I just didn’t have the life experiences at that age that most people do.
By the time I was ready to go to grad school I knew I was also ready to move out. I knew that grad school was not going to be within commuting distance and I was fine with that. I also knew that when I was applying to undergraduate schools 7 years prior that I was not ready to move out at that time.
Everyone who’s been set back in life from some form of trauma needs time to get to a place where they are ready to take on something new. Especially when it’s something that scares you and relies on your inner strength to make it happen.
I was really excited to live on my own for the first time, but I was also a little scared. The idea of having complete control over my life was something I wanted ever since my sense of control had been taken away from me after I was bullied.
My trip got me started down the path to becoming independent, and living on my own took me the rest of the way. Combine that with going to grad school where no one is going to hold your hand, and I had a crash course in becoming independent.
I struggled at first. I mean, I was able to take care of myself, but it was the homesickness that I didn’t know how to deal with. The homesickness that I felt on my trip was back, albeit not as severe. At least this time I wasn’t in a different country. I was actually about an hour from home.
School was a good distraction, but it was tough when I got back to my apartment. I talked to some people at the apartment complex I was in but I never really hung out with anyone. I was still kind of shy anyway. I used to call my mom each night and that helped a little, although it broke her heart to know I was so lonely.
Aside from school I used to keep myself distracted by always having the television or radio going. Every few weeks or so my parents and other family members would come to visit. I loved hosting them but it was especially difficult when they would leave.
But then after a few months had passed, I really started to enjoy being on my own. And I learned a lot about myself. I started to become the person I am today. I want to share with you the ways in which living on my own helped me move on from my past by becoming independent and how it can help you too.
1. You have to make your own decisions. This can be part of the allure of living alone but it can also be a source of stress. When you have to make the decisions, you get to do things the way you want, but sometimes you may not know what decision to make. Of course you can always ask others for their opinion but the final decision will be yours to make.
2. You have to learn to deal with homesickness and physical illness alone. When you’re living at home it’s easy to rely on your parents to keep you company and help you out when you are sick. When you are living alone, you have to find ways to get through it if you want to continue to live alone. You also have to take care of yourself when you are sick. Maybe you can get someone to come over and keep you company or bring you soup, but you can’t always count on that like you could when you were living at home.
3. You have to learn to manage money. Maybe you’ve always been a saver and have always kept a balanced checkbook, but when you’re living on your own, you will have to take things to a new level. You’ll have to make sure that you live within your means so that you always have enough money to cover your living expenses as well as anything else you like to spend money on. Typically when you are living at home you don’t have that many bills, but when you are on your own you will be responsible for all of them. You will have more expenses than you were ever used to.
4. You will be responsible for your own schedule. When you are living alone no one is going to be there to make sure you wake up on time to get to work or school. The great thing is that you will be in charge of your time. The down side is that it can be difficult to stick to a schedule when you don’t have anyone there to hold you accountable.
5. You will be responsible for what you eat. If you want to eat healthy then you are going to have to make sure of it. It can be really easy to get fast food every day, but it’s not going to do you any good. You’ll have to learn to cook for yourself and shop for yourself. Maybe you’re used to someone taking care of these things for you so it will be an adjustment to make the time to do these things for yourself.
6. You will learn self-discipline. This one relates to the previous three. Because you are alone you will have to make sure you hold yourself accountable to the way you want to live. It can become very easy to slack off and isolate yourself, but if you have certain things you want to do or a certain schedule you want to stick to, then you will have to make sure that happens.
7. You will learn to be alone. This might seem like a no-brainer but don’t mistake living alone with being alone. It’s one thing to live by yourself and a complete other to be alone. I hope you never have to be alone unless you want to be, but when you live alone and become independent you eventually learn to appreciate being alone and how to do it should you have to. This comes when you don’t feel homesick or lonely anymore. It’s not to say that you’ll never be lonely again, it’s just knowing how to get yourself through that.
Living alone was one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. I don’t think I would be as independent as I am today if I hadn’t done it. There are plenty of things you can do to feel independent, but living alone encompasses all of them.
Becoming independent can also make you happier because you will be proud of yourself for being able to take care of things yourself. It might not always be easy, but if you can get through the struggle, it will always be worth it. That is true for many things in life.