Holy crap, I’m living on my own!


I recently found myself reading a random wordpress blog written by someone who left home for the first time, to move to South Korea from Ontario to teach for a year. He commented that moving halfway around the world was his first time leaving home; living on his own.

I admit, I feel a little envious.  I have never actually traveled that far from home. Ever.  In hindsight, I wish I had taken time to travel.  Instead, I worked for a year after high school and then went to college.  Two years in college, graduation, and I moved a few provinces to the west to start work. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job.  I love my life 🙂  but the travel bug has bitten me only recently and now it’s more difficult to simply get up and go.

Anyway, this post isn’t necessarily about the traveling part, it’s moreso about the ‘Omigod, I’m living on my own!!!’ part.

My introduction to self-sufficiency took place about 3 hours from home, in Halifax (home is Moncton for those who are curious) when I was 18.  No huge culture shock (well, I did evolve into the independent Me, which was somewhat shocking), no real language barrier (although one could argue that since I was studying to be a sign language interpreter, I dealt with language barriers every day), and I was still able to somewhat easily travel home to visit quite often.

So, much of this person’s experience in a foreign country, I can’t relate to.  But, I CAN relate to the sudden realization that “Holy crap! I’m living on my own!  when did THAT happen??” I don’t need to refer to my old journal entry to remember the entry I wrote during my very first day in Halifax by myself.  I moved into my apartment, my mother left the city to head back to New Brunswick and I went for a walk.

It was hot, sunny…the last week of August before classes began…and I ended up in the Commons (for those who know Halifax)…a nearby park (for those who don’t).  I remember that I sat at the base of a tree near a children’s park/skater’s park, both of which were full of parents/kids, and teenagers enjoying the weather.  It was as I sat there, writing in my journal that I looked up and finally realized that I was alone.

I didn’t know anyone.  No one.  It was scary…and liberating.  I felt as though I could be whoever I wanted to be.  It was a new beginning…no past…no history to deal with.

At the same time, I was responsible for everything…and that frightened me.  I had an apartment…bills with due dates….an appetite to be satiated…an apartment that collected dust as though it would be worth something one day…

I lived there for two years and often, I would stop and find myself surprised, yet again, that yes, I was on my own.  Responsible for myself.  It’s such a huge moment in a person’s life, to take on responsibility for their own existence.  The interesting part, is that those moments of shock and astonishment never seem to completely go away.

Twelve years later, I still have those moments…they are just fewer and farther between.  Every so often, I look around my apartment…meet the gaze of my ever staring felines…note the bills on the table and think “Holy shit!  This is me…independent and adult. Well, sort of.”  I can stay up if I want, or go to bed early  like a big loser (more often the case!).  I can clean my apartment before the dust-bunnies decide to team up and kill me or I can take my chances and write reminders in dusty tabletops.

Those moments never seen to truly go away and they strike at random times.  I find it interesting that I still have them, when I can barely remember being 17 and still living with my parents; this shock of “wow I’m on my own” with no memorable comparison to how it was before.

We all experience such moments I suppose, whether we go to Korea, move to a university dorm, or simply move across town.  Some more extreme than others…but these moments change us.  They are key to who we become…how we deal with all the pressures, as well as the marvelous surprises that life throws at us.

 

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