I have been living away from home for 83 days, (damn is that all???) and I have learnt some pretty important life lessons, basic skills and generally easy things that I should have known how to do but didn’t until it came down to it. This post is a shout out to the naive 17 year old I used to be and you should maybe take notes if you are in grade 12 and are about to move out…
Okay, so let’s start with the essentials. Budgeting. The b-word. The hardest part of moving out is now you are in charge of your finances and therefore have to learn self-control if it wasn’t a trait you didn’t already possess. Grocery shopping is a nightmare because there are so many foods that you are itching to place into your basket, like Connoisseur ice cream or those caramel latte sachets that aren’t actually that economical now that you really think about it. After spending my first weekend out on the town – trust me you are going to want to save your money now, (going out is so expensive wtf). Write a grocery list and stick to it! And don’t go shopping when you are hungry because you will get home and realise all you have bought are chips, dips and nothing that you can actually cook a meal with.
Another thing: you are going to try so damn hard to fit in. Whether it is at your uni accommodation or your course, you are going to try to blend in in a desperate attempt to not be the ‘unique’ weirdo. I tried to become the person I wanted to be in high school and it backfired. Not that dramatically, but it still backfired. I think I have finally found the balance now. People are going to tell you when you leave high school that now you can start fresh and ‘be yourself’. You will roll your eyes and ignore it. But the reality is, now is your chance to branch out and be yourself. Stop trying to place yourself in a triangle shaped box if you are a square. Uni is the place to be strange – because there are often people who are just as strange and want to be strange with you.
Top tip number 3, learn to cook more than five meals. Because it will be week 10 of living away from home and trust me, you will be sick of pasta and cheese by then. Take-out is too expensive and therefore not an option. You think you can cook because it looks easy when your parents do it? You are so wrong. Coming up with an idea of something healthy-ish to cook is so much harder than you anticipated. You will gain a new respect for whoever’s turn it was to cook back home. Taste.com (and calling your dad at 7am to figure out how the heck you can tell if bacon is cooked) will become your go-to. Also, don’t knock those Woollies recipe books, they are so good for meal ideas. Buy one of those ready-made jars of curry/frozen vegetable packets. They are idiot-proof (kind of) and are handy to keep in your cupboard/freezer.
Another thing you need to be able to do is take care of yourself. Eat vegetables. Buy sorbet that contains 42% fruit instead of 15%. Listen to your mum when she says “pack vapour rub and strepsils because you will get sick” and that kind of stuff is So. Very. Expensive. Exercise to combat all those terrible eating habits you have adopted now. Be able to look after yourself mentally as well. University is so damn stressful. You need to be able to have a day where you sleep and regenerate, (just don’t do it when you have assessment due the next day). Splurge and buy a book/coffee/that cute top from Topshop. Plan a day of study but then plan a day of fun as well. Go and lie down and stare at the stars, (admittedly you may need a car for this if you live in the city). Call your family and tell them you miss them (and your pet).
Ultimately you have to take care of you. And that’s essentially what being an adult is. Looking after yourself physically, spiritually and mentally, (that was so ‘Eat, Pray, Love’). Laughing at your mistakes, (i.e no, you can’t microwave melamine). Being responsible. Buying your own coffee and making your own doctor’s appointments. Learning that being drunk is not an excuse. Resisting the urge to buy olives because they are too expensive. But you got this. And I believe in you. You just gotta get motivated (and maybe even caffeinated).