A year ago (one year and one month to be exact), I decided to move out of my parents’ house and move into a rented accommodation. Up until that point, I had never once lived alone. In fact, the one time when I had gotten permission to go to a slumber party, I came back crying the same night because I was homesick. Now, at the age of 25, here I was, determined to make it in the big, bad world all by myself.
It was a big deal! I wasn’t changing cities for study or work, so it wasn’t like I had no choice but to move; in fact my new place was a little less than 5km from my folks’ home! I wasn’t doing this so that I could “party all night” or “call over boyfriends” – a fact that was extremely difficult to explain to relatives and nosy neighbours. My parents weren’t really pressuring me for marriage either, and it was definitely not unbearable living with them. I was moving, because I wanted to see what it was like to live independently. Simple.
I won’t lie, it took quite a bit of convincing to get my dad on board with the idea. I decided to refrain from telling any relatives until the move happened and thank god because till today, there are talks about “ladki bigad gayi hai” and what not! The move also made me realise what societal pressure and “log kya kahenge” actually means in this country. But I decided to give a rat’s ass about what anyone says and took the leap, and here I am today, penning down this article.
While leaving the comfort bubble of my home was no easy feat, it turned out the best decision I’ve made in life so far. I can say without a doubt that the past 13 months have taught me more about the world and myself than I learnt in the first 25 years! Which is why, I would encourage everyone to take this step in their 20s, or at least before they get married. Moving into your own place is like a rollercoaster full of ups, downs, and every possible emotion you can imagine. But it is an experience like none other. And absolutely worth every penny you will spend.
I’ve tried to condense all of my reasons into a few points. Hopefully these will be helpful and insightful.
Gaining a new level of freedom and responsibility
You know how they say, “Life is full of endless possibilities”? Well, it is true. Stepping out of my home’s comfort was like stepping into a new world. It broadened my horizons, made me interact with people beyond my comfort zone, and understand the true meaning of freedom. I won’t lie, it’s a different high when you’re not answerable to anyone, but you are brought right back to the ground when responsibilities stare at you right in the face. You don’t need permission to stay out late, but you also can’t rely on your parents to pay your bills and ensure there’s food in your refrigerator. You gotta fend for yourself and it’s surprising how quickly one can learn it all!
Widening my comfort zone and stepping out of it
In the beginning I thought that because I wasn’t shifting cities, it would be a cakewalk. But boy, was I wrong. There was so much newness to deal with. From interacting with new people to dealing with my help, to cooking at night when I was half-dead from having worked all day, I was forced out of my comfort zone time and again.
And I can safely say that over the past year, I’ve become more accustomed to new ways of life, to change and am no longer as afraid of unfamiliar situations. And that, my friends, is a big leap!
Becoming more resourceful
Adulting is hard, okay? No matter how much I love the independence, I still wish there was someone to take care of the not-so-fun parts of living alone like paying bills and taking out the trash and talking to the landlord to resolve feuds. But the more I do all of this, the more I realise that I am good at and that I am self reliant. Jugaad is my middle name and I can take care of a house without burning it to the ground. They don’t teach this stuff in school man, and they totally should!
Living by myself has also increased my respect for my parents a lot! They’ve been doing this a lot longer and during much tougher times.
Realising my strengths
In the past year, I’ve found out that I can actually keep my room and home clean, I don’t panic in times of stress, I am decent at managing my finances, I can cook an entire meal in about an hour, I can keep myself healthy and that I am a good host. There are also a few more things, but you get the idea. Before this, mom was there to take care of most of these tasks so I never even knew if I could do them. But when faced with the situation, I managed perfectly fine. Now I am working on building other aspects of my life and personality to become a well-rounded individual.
Learning to tackle time, money and relationships
When you’re living with your parents, a major chunk of life is taken care of. There are so many things you don’t have to worry about, so you can spend all of your free time with friends and family, and doing what you love. But when you’re working and managing a home at the same time, you soon realise that time is difficult to manage. And so is money. When you are running low on both time and money, it can get difficult to manage your work, hobbies, and relationships – with your friends, family, and co-workers.
And I am still struggling with this, but I am slowly getting better at managing my time between work, leisure and all my relationships. After all, you can’t ignore one aspect while focusing on the others.
Learning to be alone without needing anyone around
The first two months of being by myself, I would well up with tears at the slightest provocation. I was missing home and mom terribly, managing a house was a lot of pressure, and basically it was tough not being surrounded by family when I was at home. In the time since, I’ve actually learnt to be okay with being alone. I’ve rekindled my hobbies and learnt to spend time wisely.
I now work from home most of the time and it doesn’t bother me when no one is around. Of course I will get these bouts where I miss my parents terribly, but most of the time I am cool with it. And this I consider one of my biggest achievements. I read somewhere and I agree: Indian women are not taught to be alone. The society is formed such that women go straight from their parents house to their husbands’ house, without ever learning to be around just themselves. That is an important thing to learn.
Realising what people say doesn’t matter at all
When you step out of your bubble and actually fend for yourself in the real world, you soon realise that what others say (no matter who they are) about you and your choices doesn’t really matter at all. No one will face the same struggles, same joys, same ups and downs as you, so they should never be in a position to influence your life choices. If you let others dictate what you do once, you will always be held back by that. Yes, at times, you will have to put up a fight for what you believe in, but in the end it’s those fights that will define where you stand in the future.
Had I listened to some of my relatives and my parents’ friends about moving out, I never would have realised my actual potential.
Realising how much I love my family
I miss them everyday and being away from them has made me more aware of their importance in my life. I don’t always tell them because I don’t want them to get too emotional and come running to me, but I’ve realised that no matter how many miles there are between us, they’re always there for me and I am always there for them.
I also became more responsible towards my parents. While one of the initial reasons of living in the same city was so that I could be available whenever my mom and dad needed me, it wasn’t something that became an inherent part of my thinking until I started living alone.
In India, unlike the West, children often continue to live with their parents well into adulthood. While that has a number of pros, it also has its fair share of cons. We won’t get into the pros and cons here, but I will say this: letting young adults live by themselves isn’t something that should be looked down upon as unnatural or unhealthy. In fact, this step can help form more well-rounded and well-adjusted individuals. I strongly stand by that. And I am grateful that I have parents who could understand my perspective without much back and forth.
That’s all for this time guys! Hope you enjoyed the read and gained something from it.
If you wanna know what life is like when you’re living independently, I wrote about that too.
Until next time,