This weekend was a learning experience for me.
It was the first weekend since I left for college back in 2006 that I was completely, wholly alone for an entire weekend. My mom was in Orlando from Friday afternoon until Sunday night and I was on my own. I won’t lie. I was nervous. I wasn’t looking forward to it. And while I had planned some fun things to do for myself this weekend (beach yoga, a solo trip to IKEA, and a trip to the dog park), everything got thrown to the wayside thanks to my sprained ankle.
When I left for college, I had no idea how tough the change would be for me. I was too busy buying new stuff for my dorm room, getting to know my roommate, and making plans for my college future. But the move away was hard on me. Extremely hard. I was thrown outside my comfort zone, with a roommate I didn’t get along with, and in a semester with classes that tested every level of my academic ability. It was so difficult that I still get knots in my stomach whenever I take the exit off I-275 that I used to get to my university. I only lived 30 minutes away so I eventually ended up going home almost every weekend, which, in hindsight, wasn’t the best decision for me. I should have forced myself to stay there, get more involved, and make friends. But I wasn’t in the state of mind to actively put those plans into action. I was just trying to survive the year at college.
Ever since then, I’ve had this fear that being on my own, or even living away from home, is something I’m incapable of doing. That I am too attached to my mom and I would never get rid of that knot of anxiety in my stomach if I ever moved away. It’s this fear I have that I’m so afraid of voicing because, hello, a 24-year-old who is scared to leave her mother’s house is a WEIRDO. I should want to be independent and on my own and only responsible for myself. That’s the whole POINT of adulthood, right? There is something wretchedly wrong with me if leaving my mother’s house filled me with such fear and anxiety.
Never mind that my mom is more than just a parent for me. She is, at her core, my best friend, closest confidant, and someone I get along with really, really well. We’ve always been close like that and living with her is comfortable and easy. (And much, much cheaper than living on my own.)
I have plans to move out. I don’t intend to be 30 years old and still living at home. I know I need to get out on my own and experience life in a completely different way. But it’s easy to let those plans fall to the wayside in favor of the comfortable. Letting long-term goals stay far in the future because the here and now is so much easier.
My solo weekend wasn’t anything exciting. I tried to make plans with friends but those fell through. I Skyped with Melissa, who is seriously the most wonderful person ever, ever, ever. My brother and nephew came over on Saturday night and on Sunday to watch football. I read. A lot. I did a lot of cleaning and preparing for moving next weekend. I went to church by myself. And it was nice. It was a low-key, relaxing weekend. It recharged me. And through it all, I began to question how it would feel if this was my life. If I was alone and in a new city where I didn’t know anyone. The funny thing is, I may have grown up here but most of my friends have moved away or we’ve grown apart. I feel more connected to friends I’ve met through blogging than people I’ve grown up with. I’ve grown comfortable with having my mom as my built-in friend. I don’t need to make elaborate weekend plans because I’ll just hang out with my mom! We’ll go shopping and out to eat and sit around and watch TV. Building your life around one person is dangerous and unhealthy. Even if I do end up finding someone I want to be with, I still need to create a life worth getting excited about.
I don’t need to become a social butterfly or sign up for a bunch of new classes and groups. I just need to build a life that suits my desires, wants, and needs. I need to get out more and get more involved in this thing called life. I have to stop hiding behind my shyness and insecurities and take chances on meeting new people. I spent most of August in a daze because I was looking at my life and so freaking unhappy with what I saw. And sometimes, we need to just BE UNHAPPY. We need to cry ourselves to sleep and moan about all the problems we have. I think we’ve become a society that is so focused on DOING and BEING and if you hate your life, just change it! when, honestly? It just doesn’t work that way. Yes, we control our responses to what happens to us but never underestimate the power of the mind when you stop processing your emotions. Things aren’t going to change overnight, or even in the space of a month. I can tell myself to be happy, but all that does in the long run is affect my overall emotions I’m dealing with. But I also know that we do have the power to change our circumstances and if we are so freaking unhappy with the way our life is playing out, we have to take the steps to fix it. And that happiness lies in the everyday, not the end points.
So I was sad in August and it sucked. It’s no fun being sad, but I had to stop fighting myself and just be okay with less happy emotions. And through that, I began to see what facets of my life I wanted to change. What I was doing that was sabotaging my efforts for a more fulfilling life for me. And this weekend taught me that I can handle being on my own and I enjoy the solitude. But I also enjoy being around people and I crave relationships.
This weekend taught me a lot. It taught me I need to stop being so dependent on my mom. It taught me that I will be okay when I move out and start my life on my own. And, above all, it taught me to start living my life. The way I want to live it. And to stop putting it off until this happens or that begins. It doesn’t mean it has to be an exciting life to those around me, but it has to be a life I enjoy and makes me happy. And while I’m still not 100% certain what all that entails, I do know that I’m ready to forge my own path. It starts with an RSVP to a young women’s book club in my area and the return of women’s Bible study to my schedule… and from there, it’s up to me to continue putting myself out there and not letting a little thing like fear steal the joy that can be found in standing outside my comfort zone.