I always thought that moving out wouldn’t be a big deal. As a fairly self-contained person who can exist alone without too much trouble I relished the opportunity to work and live alone, doing whatever I wanted to do without anyone looking over my shoulder.
In some respects I was right. In others I was wrong.
When you’ve lived in the same place for the majority of your life — especially your teenage life — you become incredibly, incredibly attached even if you don’t realise it. Whether you have a good or a bad relationship with your parents you become used to the things that make up “Home,” whatever they are. You build friendships that you think will last. You exist in a place where you belong. You love and laugh and have fun.
All of that changes when you move out.
Prior to moving out I travelled, first to Barbados with my family and then to Europe for three weeks. In some ways this was a blessing: I didn’t have time to stress about leaving home and moving somewhere entirely new. In other ways it was a disaster: By not setting aside time to process what I was about to do — move out; get a full time job; establish new friendships; and so on — I was wholly unprepared for what was about to happen.
Of course, my experience is unique compared to most. For many people, moving out means going to university, a place where, I imagine, the experience is very different: accommodation is sorted, events are set up to facilitate friendships, you are busy in the day. Starting work, especially in an environment such as writing, is tough: everyone is older and there is very little time to look after the newbie.
This is universal to all work places — as everyone discovers when they leave university — but it is still a shock, a shock I wasn’t prepared for.
The point of this is not to scare you. Moving out, in the fulness of time, is amazing: you are free to do what you want and, most importantly, to grow into an adult who can then, if you wish, have children and start the process all over again. You learn to do you, to be who you are meant to be, without the oversight of a adult, i.e. your parent(s).
But, at first, it’s tough. You have to learn to do a million things, juggle infinite balls and, at times, that can suck. Preparing dinner, for example, doesn’t just mean rolling up and collecting whatever your parents made for you; going out comes with a budget; washing doesn’t magically get done; there is no one there when you have an evening in; and so on. You can still have fun, don’t get me wrong, but it’s tinged with responsibility.
The best thing about moving out is when it starts to feel right. The first few weeks will suck: you’ll miss home, you’ll miss friends, you’ll miss everything. When you’re out and about you’ll be fine but then you’ll stop, perhaps even for just half an hour, and it’ll hit you: you no longer live with the people who raised you, who love you unconditionally, who are there for you no matter what — and it’s fucking hard.
But through these times it’s important to remember that everyone is experiencing the same thing. Even the sturdiest of sturdy people will feel that twinge of sadness at leaving home, the nostalgia of past times that, if we’re honest, will never happen again.
Eventually, it’ll be fine. Eventually, it’ll feel normal. But the first few weeks, months or perhaps years will be hard and it’ll be like that for everyone.
One of the strangest things that has happened for me personally is that I’ve become closer to my parents, even though they are far away (or, at least, what feels like far away). Knowing that there is someone out there who loves you unconditionally, even as you look like shit and miss home, is a comfort beyond all else and it’s this, I suppose, that is the one of the learning experiences that comes from leaving home.
What you are about to do — leave home, live independently, do a degree — will, unless you’re very unusual, make you into you. You’ll learn things about yourself that you didn’t know, and couldn’t have known, when you lived at home. I have, in a few short weeks, learnt a great deal about who I am and what I am doing, and you will too.
The tradeoff is the loneliness, but it must be done.
I love my job and I love the feeling of waking up in the morning with a purpose and I hope that you all find something that makes you as happy as typing words into a computer makes me but I still get sad about moving out, I still feel lonely and upset when I think about my room and all the fun times I’ve had in there with girlfriends, pre-drinks, mates and so on. Nothing feels quite the same.
Before you go to university spend a day thinking about who you are, what you are doing and where you want to be. In your darkest moments it’ll be these thoughts, dreams and aspirations that keep you afloat, keep you moving onward and upward.
It’s tough, but then all of the best things in life are.