Just over four years ago I moved away from home to go to university. I was young, baby-faced, and naïve, excited to be striking out on my own and finding my own independence. I made friends, had relationships, cooked for myself, did my own washing, learnt exactly how often you need to clean a toilet, and hoover your room, and learnt how to manage my money. I was paying rent, paying my phone bill, and generally trying to function as an independent adult. I loved it. I always had expectations that I’d finish my course and the find, get a graduate scheme in finance somewhere, find a flat, and finally start to feel like a Proper Adult™. Now I’m older, a tiny bit less naïve, but definitely still as baby-faced (I mean I got ID’d trying to buy paracetamol the other day), and reality is definitely slightly different to what I expected.
After finishing university it turns out I actually have less of a clue with what I want to do with my life than I did when I started at 18. Due to various circumstances outside of my control I ended up, like many people my own age, moving back in with my mum after finishing at uni. This was supposed to be a temporary arrangement that lasted a month or two, now it’s been nearly six, and I still feel no closer to moving out than I did before. It was definitely a culture shock for me. I went from having my own space, my own freedom, my own independence, in a place where I had friends, a job, hobbies, and roots, to somewhere where I knew virtually no one, where I was sticking to meal times set by other people, fighting for shower time with five other adults (seriously, en-suite accommodation definitely spoiled me), and living out of suitcases and boxes.
At the moment I feel stuck in limbo, I feel like I have no permeance, no place of my own. I feel like I am floating around, trying to just get from one day to the next, like a tiny tree shooting out little roots, and hoping some of them take hold before the wind sweeps me away. I’ve made some steps, I have a job, well actually I have two. And they’ve given me a sense of belonging, of having meaning, and purpose. If anything, they get me out of the house for a few hours every day and get me socialising with other people. It is strange though, I’ve gone from having jobs where I’ve been one of hundreds of employees, to jobs where I’m one of two or three people working in a day. I see the same people day in day out, and many of my customers I recognise from both my jobs, and I see them every day. Despite seeing the same people day in day out, it doesn’t always equate to making lasting friendships.
That’s one of the things they don’t tell you about leaving university, just how isolating it can be. I’ve moved away from all my friends, into a city where I only know a handful of people. This time I don’t even have any societies to rely on to help me make friends, this time I have to do it on my own, and making friends takes time, especially to form proper bonds with people. I need to find hobbies, ones where I can meet people my own age with similar interests. I want to get back into horses, but at the moment it’s a case of money, transport, and time. But hey, at least if I have a horse I’ll be able to talk to him, and he can’t answer back either, just ditch me on the floor occasionally instead.
There’s lots of things I miss about living by myself. I miss knowing where everything I need is, you know the little things, like where the spare loo rolls are, or where the medicine is kept, and what’s there. I miss cooking for myself, I miss knowing what I have in the cupboards, and what I have in the fridge, I miss being able to experiment with recipes and trying out new stuff. I miss being a five-minute walk from my best friend’s house, a ten-minute walk from the city centre, and a two-minute walk from the nearest stables. There are benefits to living at home though. It’s a lot cheaper than living on my own, I don’t have to pay rent as it’s only supposed to be a temporary fix, so it’s helping me drag myself out of some of the debt I generated whilst at uni. Despite having said I miss cooking, it is also nice to have your meals cooked for you when you just aren’t in the mood for it (though I definitely miss my dishwasher). I can rely on my mum to help me out when I need it, and it’s great having my little brother around. I have space to explore what I want to do with my life, at my own pace. But I still have to do my own washing.