We get this a lot, so it seemed past time for us to have a thread for it.
Transitioning from life with your parents or guardians to life on our own is frequently complicated, sometimes difficult, and occasionally a real trial.
There are things that can make it easier: having your parents really support your autonomy including help with planning to move out of your home or separate in other ways, having peers in the same spot as you are, feeling confident and capable all by yourself, being able to manage finances and have something to work with, etc. There are things that can make it harder: parents being NONsupportive of your becoming an adult, not helping with planning or sabotaging your plans, peers NOT doing or moving towards real separations themselves, feeling scared or incapable, having no idea how to manage bills, rent, work, or other parts of living as an adult.
If you're transitioning away from your folks, are looking towards that point or have just done it, feel free to share your joys and woes, your tips or questions, your accomplishments or frustrations.
-------------------- Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen About Me • Get our book! Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead Posts: 65605 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000
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Great topic! Time for an unintentional, "my independence story" of sorts...
I moved away from home at the end of 17 and have now been living on my own for the past 8 years (and counting!) I have a very supportive family with whom I am close but I also was very ready to leave. (I think I'd be almost waiting for it since age 13 or 14!) However, I believe that "successful parenting" means that people *want* to go out into the world even if it means a few tense moments or even years as the independence-getting and -giving process kicks it into high gear.
That said, I did not leave on the happiest terms and made some compromises that I am now very grateful for in hindsight. As loving and supportive as my parents were, they were also strict (but got less strict as my siblings got older and they, too, even as adults learned ) and I had a moment where I almost left home a few months before leaving high school. However, in a moment of "brilliant clarity" during a very dark time, I realized I'd be trading "three months of freedom for a lifetime of not being free" versus "three months of feeling stuck but then having a lifetime of freedom." As in not having the same educational opportunities, having to work twice as hard to get where I was so close to, such as supporting myself with minimum wage jobs as I had tried to study] I am very grateful for that realization, as I had friends in similar situations who chose the former and have had much harder lives.
As for the compromises, I decided to attend a small, private university out in the country that was a few hours from where I grew up on the East Coast of the US over a big place in California. I had long dreamt of moving to California but I realistically assessed that there was no way I could afford the out-of-state tuition (surely now around $40,000/year.) Knowing it'd be harder to get back into my studies after taking the two years necessary to gain residency for lower tuition, I decided to stay more local. [However, as many people would say, you can even attend school in your hometown and be worlds away (mentally) from where you grew up!] Furthermore, I knew I could become financially independent at the private college though academic scholarships, work-study, and working during breaks.
Fiscally, the compromise made a lot of sense. Academically and interpersonally, my choice far exceeded my hopes. I found a wonderfully stimulating intellectual environment as well as strong friendships in a tight-knit community that grew to be my "family" during those years. I then did get those thousands of miles away, be it to Europe rather than California, thanks again to scholarships and what not.
The years I was in Europe were just what I needed and was a wonderful experience in so many ways; I had/have great friends there, too, and it did grow to feel like a home of sorts. However, as many would say, regardless of how well you may speak the language or how well you know the culture or how well educated you are, living in a foreign country can be really, really hard, especially when you're doing it all on your own.
This time I sought a new type of independence, namely trying life back in the US. Not in the place I grew up but not too far either, and just a hour or two away from family. That has been wonderful, too-- I appreciate the support I had growing as well as the independence I worked hard for. I honestly love spending time with my parents now and while I don't want to live together with them anymore (unless one should need a caretaker, godforbid), I can't spend enough time with them! We definitely relate on a new level than in high school; we both grew up.
Some people speak of "working world" versus "carefree student life" as a dichotomy and something versus positive versus something negative. However, I can't imagine NOT working, for starters, and find that my job has been very, very rewarding and empowering in ways that my studies weren't. My unsolicited advice to people feeling that joining the workforce will be the end of fun, I challenge you to see how it can even be the exact opposite, if different than imagined at the very least.
What I *will* say is this: Life is REALLY expensive. At first I was shocked at all the bills (I'm not talking about debt but living expenses) such as rent, utilities, heating, etc. etc. That's the case wherever you live because it's all relative, either you pay it out of pocket or through taxes. And even if you live frugally, they all really add up and it can seem almost overwhelming at first. However, you *can* do it, even if it takes some shifting and saving and learning experiences, and it sure beats having someone else make your life decisions for you. I am actually even "happy" to pay those bills each month because being able to is a sign of success and a reason to be proud. I'm also grateful for the support I had setting things up (buy your crockery at thrift stores, not big box stores and save a ton!) and the opportunities for education. I also was surprised to see how really good getting a regular paycheck, having a salary and a job with health insurance feels! Because it can be hard to focus on the fun and creative outlets in life if you have trouble covering the basics.
I feel very good about where I am now in many ways but I also look forward to what the future has to hold! I look forward to hearing what others have to say about their journeys to independent adult life.
Posts: 3318 | Registered: Jun 2003
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I'm currently about to go live in another city for a couple of months, away from home and have been living away from home the last three months.
I really like living on my own and I think I'm at a point in my life where I feel like I need to have more autonomy and freedom.
It doesn't scare me, it seems as if my mother, who I am currently living with, is more worried about me moving away than me.
She's scared of missing me, of me not going to come back to see her often enough so that she doesn't miss me too much. She's also scared basically of me leaving for a very big city where she thinks I won't be as safe as I might be now. She feels I'm safer now because she knows almost wherever I go (because she always ask about it) and at what time I expect to be back home and if I can't get home on time, then I pretty much always have to call her or she gets very worried something has happened to me.
When I'm away from homw, she doesn't know as much where I am and all and I therefore have a lot more freedom and that's something I very much like. I can go wherever I want without having to tell her where I'm going. Since she knows I'm going to move away from home for a few months, she keeps reminding me of how I don't know how to be safe and how the world's out there is dangerous and I don't seem to realize it. She says that I should not go out at night because it's dangerous and when I'm away from home, she feels a lot more powerless when it comes to that.
It bothers me because I know all of that but I just won't stop living life because of things like that sometimes happen. If it's meant to happen, it will happen. I don't think we have much power over that. I think personally that if it happens, that this is a matter of back luck, of not being at the right place at the right moment.
Though, my parents don't support me financially so it will be a lot harder than when I'm at home because I'll have to pay for the food and place compared to when I'm home but I think that I have reached this point now and they have helped me enough, as much as they could, in their own ways, with their income, I've also got 3 other brothers and sisters so they have to support them financially too and my family doesn't run on money. I appreciate everything they've given me.
I didn't see my dad a lot growing up and that's the same thing now. I see him once every few months for a few hours and that's about it. So I don't mind moving away from him, I've been living away from him with my mom for about 2 years now.
I also think that you learn so much from moving away on your own and I've found personnally that this helped me to boost a bit my self-esteem which is a good thing. It also helped me grow as a person, made me discover new things. It might be though because I've lived in a totally new environment, in another city. I think that also comes into play on top of me being more independant because I live away from home.
So, moving away on your own has its positive and negative sides but overall to me right now, that's mostly positive. It might not be the same though if I was moving away from home in the same city, I'd probably like that less because if I was living nearer to my mother, I'd have a lot less freedom.
I'm leaving for college for my first year in less than two weeks. I'm driving, and it's a long drive, but not more than a day, so I can come visit sometimes. I'm finding it hard and very conflicting of my emotions. I'm trying to get last-minute things done so I can move out, not even thinking about packing yet, but it's hard to find the energy for this while being depressed about leaving my boyfriend. He went to college locally and understands that I chose the best school for me, but I understand that he wants me to stay also. It's like there's two of me--one that wants to go to college and meet people and become a vet, and the other who wants to have a little girl and cook and stay home, taking care of things. I feel empowered as a woman but also very domestic and homely. I also feel bad about my parents, because I don't really know how to be close to them. They try to accomodate me and what I want, but no matter how I try I find them annoying and awkward. I wish I felt better about everything. People ask me if I'm excited for school and I either lie and tell them yes or say not really, no. All my friends are so happy to leave but I don't want to go anywhere--however, I do want to go. So confused.
Posts: 87 | From: USA | Registered: Aug 2009
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