A plant needs to grow independently from other plants so they can absorb the essential ingredients it needs to survive on its own.
Like plants, people need to be on their own in order to grow into their individual beings.
The people you live and surround yourself with has a lot of influence on your character. In fact, their hobbies and preferences can become blurred with your own when you live with these people all your life. How do you know what your habits and preferences are, independent of them?
I am on a mission to find out.
So, here we are. Week one of living alone [kind of]. If you know me, you’d know my favourite movie of all time is This Means War. I don’t remember the details of the soundtrack, or the little significant actions that the actors [Chris Pine and Tom Hardy] or actresses do [Reese Witherspoon] or words they say in the movie. In fact, if you know me at all, you’ll know I have a hard time paying attention to anything in pop culture. References usually go out the window when you chat with me. [Sorry, not sorry].
The single biggest reason why I love this movie is Reese Witherspoon’s portrayal of Lauren Scott.
She is who I aspire to be: an independent, confident, beautiful, and strong woman.
She’s quick-witted, smart, successful, and happy prancing around with no pants on in her own home to Montell Jordan’s “This is how we do it” while making popcorn and calling it a night. She’s absolutely happy being alone and comfortable in her own skin, being a bum on a typical weekend, classy when she needs to be, and in control and confident as a boss at the product testing company.
The scene that hits home is when she bumps into Chris Pine at the movie rental store. Lauren Scott is perfectly capable of choosing her own movie, for a good night in by herself. Her knowledge of movies is impeccable [That I am jealous of.]
If being comfortable on my own can get me to that sweet spot: the perfect balance of comfortable independence without feeling lonely, then I’m going to try it. After all, isn’t the most important relationship, the one with yourself?
Moving out is like a metaphor for life. You’re starting from scratch from a completely empty space, and filling it with all the things ONLY YOU like NOW, IN THIS TIME OF YOUR LIFE. It is very empowering to know you have this control.
So, after a week of living on my own and away from the family, what did I learn? Here we go:
9 Things You Learn When You Move Out
- People are willing to help you, don’t go all out on furniture and decor yet. I posted a Facebook post sharing my status, saying I am looking furniture. My first thought is I would be spending a lot on furniture or appliances and I was prepared to spend at least a couple of hundred on a basic sofa or a table. Hey, the thing about your mid twenties is, you have friends who are in a later phase of life. They are moving out with their significant others or upgrading their suite all the time. So chances are, they have spare furniture to offer you. It saves them the trouble of craigslist and dealing with random buyers too! At least that’s what happened to me.
- It’s expensive, there are all those little things you don’t even think about. The expensive part isn’t in the furniture. It is in all the things you now need to purchase on your own. Maybe you lived with room mates or parents at one point, and you never had to think about buying your own garbage bags, laundry detergent, sandwich bags, condiments, hand soap, dish soap… okay the list continues. But you get my drift and holy cow, the list adds up!
- You realize the amount of things you’ve been taking things for granted. I expected this, but not to this degree. The warm meal prepared for you at the end of a long day when you come home. The rice being cooked and ready to be eaten. The tables and and floor all spanking clean. The soap dispenser or garbage magically refilled or taken out. Even, the water bottles that were stocked up so that hydration was ready to go when I made a visit to the gym or when I played dodgeball. I also learned things like… brown rice takes 2 hours to cook. Who knew?
- A lot of time is spent on chores and getting things done. Oh boy, every night I came home, I cooked, washed dishes, cleaned the tables, I did my own laundry, bought groceries if I wanted a decent meal that’s not the same as yesterday’s lunch or dinner. I may spend a good hour just working on upkeep of the space. No one was going to clean up after me. Before, I only had to focus on taking care of myself (shower, eat, you get my drift), but now I am responsible for my own space.
- It gets lonely, as heck. For now, I miss my parents milling around or my sister coming in to my room randomly when I am in the middle of task. Living alone is very different than what I am used to, that is.. having someone in my space at all times. I am used to hiding in my room if I wanted any peace and quiet at all, and even then I wasn’t able to. Now that I am completely alone, I look for ways to fill my space with some liveliness. Whether it is playing music or having Netflix on in the background, it distracts me at times when I start longing for some sort of presence.
- It’s also fun. You start to realize you can do things you weren’t able to do previously…. like walk around naked, shower with the door open, sit on the couch with only my underwear on. I could romance myself: light up candles and take a bubble bath with music in the background. No one is there to tell me to sleep earlier, or not to do things a certain way. I’m literally, free, to be myself and eat whatever I want to eat. You get to decorate the space however you like because you don’t have other people’s possessions in the way.
- Your relationship with the parents is redefined. My mom called me twice on two consecutive nights since I decided to be on my own a week ago. First time, she called to ask if I needed a rice scooper/spoon which segued into asking me to have dinner with the family on the weekend. The next evening, she called to ask me about the best place for salt-roasted chicken. I knew deep in my heart, she called because she misses me, which is adoring. Why? Because when I lived with them, their conversation with me would be nagging me to do something or pointing out something about my actions or behaviour that annoyed them. Now that I am out of sight, none of those annoyances matter; nagging is not necessary. From this point onwards, [hopefully] it is only about how we CAN CONNECT so we remain in each other’s lives healthily.
- You learn a lot, ALOT about yourself. I learned more in this week, than I’ve learned in the many other years of living. You are no longer influenced by anyone else other than yourself. I did things because my parents wanted me to do it or did things the way they wanted me to do things. I ate what they thought I should eat and I enjoyed activities that didn’t get in their way of things. In the process of moving out, I learned that I liked colour coordination and décor in my space. I dislike clutter and I ACTUALLY like organization. I like it when my things are clean and smell nice. I learned what type of food I preferred cooking. I have so much freedom to take care of myself the way I wanted to be taken care of, and I was surprised and proud to learn that I wasn’t the slob I thought I was going to be; I am maintaining a high standard of living on my own, even if it means more work in the day.
- You redefine your schedule. Today, I went to the gym after work because I didn’t feel pressure to go home at a certain time. I am truly learning what I like to fill my spare time with when I am flying solo, including signing up for cooking lessons and Spanish lessons. My typical schedule is coming home, doing chores, cooking, and just unwinding at night or being more productive. It takes time getting used to a new routine, and really, without those lessons and extracurriculars to fill in the time, life would get incredibly dull, really fast.
So far, it’s been challenging, because after many years of living with people I can rely on and depend on, I am now completely alone. I know I can back out and go back to living with the parents at any time. But I strongly believe, that to truly appreciate yourself and those closest to you, and to fully become acquainted with yourself, this step is absolutely necessary.
When else are you going to learn your tastes, desires, habits, preferences independent from anyone else? This is the time. Do it now.