The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
Living on my own, in a new city, was always something I wanted to do. As a teenager in high school itching for some sort of change, it was all I could think about.
Once I finally graduated, I counted down the days until I could move away at the end of the summer. I was excited to meet new people and do what I wanted – when I wanted. Most of all, I was looking to experience a drastic change in my life, from living in a small town for 18 years to moving to a city alone.
At the end of a sweltering hot August day in my first year of university, my parents drove me to my dorm room where I first got a glimpse of my soon-to-be student life. The excitement rolled over me as I began to visualize what I could do to this space to make it my own.
I couldn’t have rushed my parents out faster. We all shed a slight tear saying goodbye before they left, and just like that, I was alone. But instead of feeling this sense of freedom I thought I would feel for so long, I felt a wave of loneliness.
That first week of university, I cried every day because I missed my family. I constantly thought to myself, “What is wrong with me?” Everything I thought I would feel when I left for university, I felt the opposite. All I wanted to do was go home.
That first week of despair was tough. In fact, my first year away from my family was hard. I didn’t feel like my residence was home, and no matter how much I tried to embrace the environment around me, I wasn’t happy.
Looking back, I thought moving to a new city, meeting new friends and being away from the people I loved the most would change the problems I thought I left in my hometown. I was wrong.
There is no easy fix to any issue. Personal issues like stress, mental health and body image are all things I struggle with, and I chose to ignore them rather than deal with them. I thought moving away would solve the problem, but in reality, I left behind my support system, my family.
And so, although the first year living away from my family was fun and an experience I would not trade for the world, it was not the answer to my problems. However, that first year taught me exactly what I needed to know about myself: I need to face my issues head-on instead of finding a temporary fix.
Once the pandemic hit and most of the world was forced to move back home with family, I realized how much I benefited from having them around me.
My mindset in first year was to change my life – to turn it around and start fresh. I thought that meant growing up quickly and moving on from everything I was used to, including relying on my family.
Moving back home made me realize how lucky I am to have a family I love so much, who cares about me and my wellbeing. It only took me a year of living alone to realize that they are there to support me.
After a year of moving back to my hometown due to COVID-19, I was finally ready to move out again. I knew this time would be different.
The difference between my first year and moving out for the second time was that I knew myself better. I knew what to do when my mental health was low and how to take care of myself. And most of all, I knew that my family was only a phone call away.
I learned from my time living alone that, although I am my own best friend and essentially the only person that controls my life, I have a support system that I can always rely on.
Now, as a 20-year-old female student living in a big city without her family, I can say I am content with my life. Living alone has not only taught me to be grateful for the people who love me but also how to slow down and live life.
There is no rush to grow up and move on. No matter how much you may want change, I now know that change will always come when it is meant to. Until then, you just have to learn to live with it.