person sitting on the couch

How to prepare yourself to live independently

"Apart from financial preparations, independent living takes an awful lot of mental preparation as well."

Mental health and wellbeingFriends and relationships
By VoiceBox ·

Sofia (not her real name)

Sofia is a university student and a freelance writer from the Philippines.

How to prepare one’s mind for independent living?

If you have recently been on TikTok, you might have come across the popular trending song “Nobody” by American singer-songwriter, Mitski. It is quite an upbeat song which in contrast has a very lonely meaning. People who have been following Mitski’s music for a very long time might have already known that this song is about her experience living in Malaysia with nobody but herself. The lyric particularly resonates with the beginning of the new chapter in my life as a woman in her early 20s who strongly desires self-growth and recently started living independently.     

  Apart from financial preparations, independent living takes an awful lot of mental preparation as well. Certainly, you will be thrilled especially if you are completely committed to this new lifestyle, however, there are also unfamiliar emotions that may develop along the way. During this experience, solitude could either be your friend or your worst enemy.   

One's sense of personal security and well-being is heavily linked to their level of comfort in a new environment. Right when I was introduced to this new environment, my anxiety was fueled. The first night of living in a new apartment was so dreadful that I could barely sleep. I even kind of had a claustrophobic feeling while I stared at the walls of the apartment as it felt like it would push through and compress me into a sheet. Probably the most terrifying thing is I often get paranoid every time I hear a random rustling sound, and I would immediately think that a robber is breaking into the apartment. Crazy as it sounds, these are natural emotions that you may expect to surface when you are in an unfamiliar place. Getting used to it might take a month or two (at least for me). It would be an understatement to say that all you need to do is be courageous and endure the suffering. For the meantime, try to distract yourself by using your spare time doing recreational activities. It also helps to always turn on your TV or play music on loudspeakers.

“Alone” and “Lonely” are words that are somehow related but have a distinct difference. There are some who dislike being alone and others who find solace in it. On the other hand, loneliness is melancholic and is brought by the immense feeling of longing for company and intimacy. Having a weak bond to no connection at all with the people in your life usually leads to extreme yearning for a relationship. Throughout your self-sufficient life, there will be a lot of quiet moments. During these moments are when loneliness usually creeps in. A single call from a family member or a friend may be enough to ease the lonely feeling. So, it is best to build and strengthen your relationship with people before living on your own.

Perhaps the most practical thing to learn before committing to an independent life is time management. Living alone will unavoidably make you forget certain tasks especially if you are used to relying on your family members to do the job for you. Thus, create a timetable if necessary. It is recommended to do tasks according to an organized schedule for you to be able to recall your household duties. At first you might feel overwhelmed about the idea of doing everything on your own -- from dusting the furniture to cooking for dinner. Eventually, you will see that these typical routines will come naturally and become part of your DNA. Recollecting the time that I have been living with my family, my mom and I would have arguments every time I complain and try to refuse doing simple household cleaning. Now, I have swallowed my pride and am dedicated to keeping my new place tidied up as much as possible.

An active and well-driven lifestyle is great, but of course, it would not hurt to leave some spare time in your schedule for things you actually enjoy or are most passionate about. For me, the end of a long busy day is best spent playing video games or watching shows on Netflix for a couple of hours.

It may feel extremely fulfilling to live completely alone, but for most people, it does not work forever. However, you can always try to find what works best for you. Your time is most valuable when you spend it on learning about yourself and what you have always wanted your life to be. We all feel as if we have already known everything about ourselves, but in reality, we are in a constant search for our identity.

While I frequently do long to see my family, I never regret taking a step forward to independent living and becoming the best version of myself.   

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