Like most young adults, I moved out for the first time at the age of 18. At the time, I had been living with my mom and my dog, Minnie.
What followed was the hardest nine months of my life. The first four months, I cried multiple times a day, sometimes while on the phone with my mom. I had a terrible roommate that I didn’t get along with, and I was in an entirely new environment and not coping well at all. I should have spoken to my RA or a school therapist about my extreme homesickness, but I think I felt really embarrassed about it and the fact that everyone around me was doing fine and enjoying college, while I felt like I was drowning. Since I had spent the last two years of high school taking college courses, I wasn’t even in classes with people my age. Everyone was nearing the end of their college journey, not beginning it. Plus, my classes were hard, and I was failing two of them.
Things never got better (though I did pull myself together and make passing grades in the classes I was previously failing – hooray!) and I was homesick for nine straight months. I went home every single weekend, and ended up moving back home after a year and becoming a commuter student.
Since then, every time I picture moving out to my own place, I envision being in a similar situation and it fills my entire being with dread.
So I’ve put off moving out. And put it off. And put it off.
It’s only been recently that I’ve felt strong enough to finally take this giant step into adulthood. This step that seems to come so easily for those around me – people who thrive at college and can’t imagine living with their parents past the age of 18 – and yet, has been the biggest struggle of my life so far.
This weekend, I will finally – finally! – move into my own place. Albeit with a roommate, but I still consider it moving out and being on my own and independent. And I’m excited! I’m so excited to make this huge life change and shake up my comfort zone. But I’m also nervous.
I’m nervous because I don’t know the area well and I don’t know if the area is the right fit for me. I like to think of South Tampa as where all the pretty people live. If you’re a twenty-something living in Tampa, you want to live in South Tampa. It’s where the cool restaurants and bars are, it’s where young professionals hang out. I worry about feeling out of place, of not fitting in.
I’m nervous because change and big life transitions are so difficult for me. My coping skills are better now that I understand myself on a deeper level than I did back when I was 18… but I still struggle with change. I worry about falling into that same level of fear and anxiety as I did in college.
I’m nervous because I’ll have more responsibilities. Though I pay my mom for rent and utilities, she’s the one who takes care of things. It’ll be on my shoulders now to make sure the bills are paid. I’ll have to be super strict with my budget because I’ll be paying more in rent, along with having other responsibilities to pay for, like the water bill and Dutch’s vet fees. I worry about drowning in everything that is required of me to be a functioning member of society.
I’m nervous about Dutch, about his transition to a new living situation. I worry that he’ll spend all day crying in the apartment and disturb our neighbors. I worry about him peeing in defiance on brand-new carpeting (he’s done this before). I worry about how I’ll handle being his sole caretaker.
In many ways, I feel incredibly silly for being 27 years old and having so many fears about moving to my own apartment. I am well past the stage of life where it’s deemed acceptable to be living with your parents (though, I do have a unique situation in that my mom and I function more like roommates than parent/child). I don’t know anybody that I work with that still lives with their parents. And I work with a lot of people my age and younger! So it’s very hard to write this post, to admit that I’m scared of this change, to come clean about my anxieties.
But I am. I have many qualms. But I also know I am 100% ready for this. I know it will be hard and I will need to give myself buckets of grace during this time, to allow myself the time and space to settle in to this new life of mine. I know this is exactly what I need and exactly the path I need to be on. I know myself so much better than I did when I was 18. Back then, I did not know about introversion, about high sensitivity, about social anxiety.
(If I had, I probably would have opted for a different living situation – an apartment rather than a traditional dorm – or have decided commuting was the best option for my needs.)
What I know is this: I am moving in with one of my best friends, someone who understands me on a deep level, someone who is one of the brightest forces in my life right now. I am moving with a better appreciation of myself and a heightened understanding of my needs and my personality and my brand of anxiety. I am moving with the understanding that if things feel overwhelmingly difficult, I will seek therapy and find better ways to cope.
So, emotions? I have them. By the truckload. I waver between excitement and trepidation and joy and nervousness. This is a huge life change for me and all I can do is be present in the moment, revel in the triumphs, and learn from the setbacks. Move-in day is in three days. I am ready.