You know the saying that “every bird has to leave the nest”? Well, that may be true but did anyone ever ask the bird how they felt before they were meant to fly off into the vast world all by themselves? I’m sure that they felt scared and nervous about it and maybe even had doubts that they would manage. Well, that right there is the feeling we get when we leave home for the first time. We all leave home at various stages of our lives to embark on our next chapter. Some of us get used to living away from home as early as in prep school (because they go to boarding schools) and others only leave home after they finish university. No matter when you do it, everyone has to leave home eventually, and that can be a really stressful period. We lose the comfort shell of being looked after and launch into a world of independence that we might not necessarily be ready for. However, there are ways to make it a less stressful period. It doesn’t have to be the worst experience ever, and if you embrace it with open arms, you may find that you really enjoy it.
So I’m about to leave home for a ten-week study programme overseas, and while I am really excited about it, I am still really nervous. It will be the first time I am living alone for that long, without having people I know around me to support me. I will be living in a foreign country with a roommate for more than two months, having to do my washing and without anywhere to retreat to if I am having a bad day. But when I think about it, it isn’t as nerve-wracking as I let it be. I’ve lived by myself for much shorter periods before so the only difference is stretching the duration. I have my own tips, like everyone else does, for managing being alone so here are the tips that I have been giving myself for how to manage leaving home.
Before you leave, being prepared will always reduce stress. Make lists about what you need to pack, label your bags or boxes and do anything else that will make you feel better and that you are in control. Ensure that you don’t leave anything essential behind and that you have a plan for any emergencies (such as having a first aid kit for if you slice your finger open or an emergency cash fund in case your card stops working). Being prepared will not only make sure that you are ready for leaving, but it will also give you peace of mind that you are in control.
Friends are always a positive influence, and while we might be leaving friends we already have at home, there are still new ones to be made. So wherever you happen to be going, be friendly to the new people you meet (you never know – they might be experiencing the same newbie stresses that you are), and you may find a lifelong friend. Making friends also means that you will have people to talk to when you feel upset, and you will also have an outlet and a way to have fun so that you don’t spend all your time thinking of logistics or finance. Like Hubert H. Humphrey said, “The greatest gift of life is friendship”.
You don’t have to be all big and tough and act like, as soon as you move out, you don’t need to talk to your parents anymore. It’s okay to feel homesick sometimes when you are living in a new place by yourself and calling home can be a comfort that you will not realise until you do it. Call your parents and let them know how you are doing, not only will your parents be happy to be updated, but it will also get a weight off your chest, and you will keep homesickness at bay before it even arrives.
In your new living space, make sure that you keep the space positive. There is nothing worse than living alone somewhere new and the only place you have to retreat to feels like a prison. If it is allowed, decorate your room with things and colours that make you happy. Also, if you are living with a roommate, try and create a good relationship with them because let me tell you from personal experience that there is nothing worse than coming home to a room that is more frosty and tense than the cold war. Having a positive environment will keep you in a good head space – and that will allow you to make the transition that much easier.
Sometimes the furthest we have to move is to a student dorm next to the local college so lucky for you-you get to stay in the same city. You know where everything is so great! What if you happen to move to a new town or even a new country? That can make the feeling of leaving home even more stressful because you are out of your comfort zone and in a place where you are entirely out of your depth. To fix this – go exploring! Maybe take your new-found friends and go out each week to explore a new part of the city. The reason this is important is that knowing your surroundings can reduce a lot of stress because you don’t have to worry that you could get lost if you make one wrong turn. Soon you will know your new home almost as well as your old one.
I’m sure you’ve heard that “you can’t beat a river into submission. You must surrender to its current.” (If you haven’t then I highly recommend you watch Doctor Strange – you’ll enjoy it). When you leave home and start living somewhere new, everything is different including the people and the customs. One way to make sure that you don’t make life unnecessarily hard for yourself is by being open. If you are open to the way things are done and the way people are, not only will you become part of the community a lot faster, but you will also make friends quicker and love your new home more.
Just because you are leaving home and all that good home-cooking, doesn’t mean that you all of a sudden have to let yourself go and get takeaway pizza every night for dinner. Staying healthy, either by keeping up your exercise routine or keeping your diet on the straight and narrow, will not only keep your body in check but it will also keep your mind in check. A healthy lifestyle is a clear way to reduce stress so stick with your healthy living, and you’ll find that all of the newnesses won’t stress you out quite as much, compared to if you were devouring burgers and ice cream.
Let me ask you this – would you feel good about yourself if you stopped doing your laundry and you had your room messy if you live at home? Would you feel good not staying on top of your assignments and missing classes just because you couldn’t be bothered? Well if that isn’t you at home, then don’t let that be you when you aren’t at home. Try to stay as neat and organised as you can because living on your own can already be a mission so don’t make the other aspects of your life harder than they need to be. I know this sounds like a lecture, but trust me that it is easier than letting everything fall apart while you try to come to grips with your new home.
You don’t have to all of a sudden be a sparkling independent butterfly, but it is useful to walk out your front door having a few skills under your belt. One such helpful skill is being able to do your own laundry and ironing (because let’s face it, having clean clothes is kind of essential). Another few that I think are particularly helpful is being able to cook (in case you move into a place that has a kitchen), being able to sew (just for repairing those annoying buttons that always seem to come loose) and having basic first aid skills (because you don’t want to have to go to a hospital for something that you could treat yourself). By having these handy skills, you won’t need to feel like you are always dependent on someone else to get by, and these skills may impress your new friends. So win-win.
There is nothing wrong with going back to visit. Just because you are stretching your wings and doing things on your own, doesn’t mean that you can’t go home during the holiday and sleep in your own bed and eat your parents’ food. Going home will allow you also to relax – so you can take a breather and not always be thinking of laundry or dishes or doing grocery shopping. Home is where the heart is, plus your parents will probably enjoy seeing you. Maybe (just kidding they will definitely be pleased to see you).
So there you have it. These are the tips that I have been giving myself over the years, and what I keep repeating to myself as the time for my flight gets closer and closer. I know that if I follow my advice, even if I am nervous, that I will be just fine. I hope that you have found these tips helpful and if you have moved out and would like to share your advice, or if you are in the process of moving out and have some concerns, then please feel free to share them in the comments section. I really hope that you enjoyed this blog post. I’ll see you all soon.
Lots of Love
Blondey on a Mission xxx