For those of you who don’t know, on March 15 of this year, I signed the lease to rent a room in a house in Pomona, and about a week later, I officially left the Glendora nest and moved into my new place. Since moving out, I have been noticing little things here and there about living on my own that remind me about how much of a full-fledged adult I’m suddenly starting to become (* doubles over and sobs into a corner*).
I haven’t lived away from home, or at least under direct parent supervision since I was eighteen and living on campus. Even then, though, I didn’t have to worry about things like rent, food, and groceries (oh how I miss the luxury of having meal points), and knew that I had the safety net of my dad and sister living a few short miles down the 10 freeway. After my freshman year, I moved back in with my dad and lived with him until this past March. Since moving out, I’m starting to notice things here and there that came as such a luxury to me that I unknowingly took advantage of the past several years.
The one thing that I am just now getting the hang of doing is making my own food. Gone are the days where I would come home to fully-stocked pantries and towers of leftover-filled Tupperware containers in the fridge. Back then, I was way too privileged to even fathom having leftovers for lunch or dinner. But now, remembering that I have leftovers waiting for me in the fridge probably excites me more than it should, making every fridge-opening feel like Christmas morning. Because of my new-found endorphin rush of finding leftovers, I make sure I cook as often as possible – something that I’ve grown cotton to, and oftentimes find therapeutic after a busy day of school and work. Now that I’m learning how to be creative with the few ingredients in my pantry, I am not only starting to eat a little cleaner – guess who now feels gross and nauseous after eating anything processed! – but also less motivated to buy lunch on campus anymore, something that used to happen on a daily basis. Who would’ve known that packing a lunch everyday could actually save so much money? (Answer: Everybody). Since I’ve discovered the joys of cooking, I actually feel a little twinge of satisfaction whenever I notice that my fridge is depleting in ingredients – it shows that I’m actually making use of the food that I do have, and not wasting my money buying the overpriced food sold on campus. Now, whenever I go grocery shopping with my dad, I almost literally become a kid in a candy store, making every trip to Costco feel like a trip to Disneyland.
Paying rent is another concept that is completely foreign to me, but I have been preparing myself (and my bank account) for that aspect of living on my own since I started looking for a place to live. I never really realized just how much in utilities I tend to use until today, when a dollar amount was attached to it. Who would’ve thought that using air conditioning everyday would cost so much? (Answer: Again, everybody). So if you’re reading this and are still living at home, take advantage of the free air conditioning while you can. On the other hand, if your parents nag you for fiddling with the thermostat too much, suck it up and open a window. After seeing the amount I had to pay this month in utilities, all of the times my mom nagged me for conserving water are starting to make sense to me, and I now realize the importance of energy-saving light bulbs. The one thing I gained from this entire experience so far is to be more mindful of all the resources I use, and how to conserve as much of it as I can.
Next to filing taxes and paying my own credit card bills, living on my own and paying rent has been another giant step towards adulthood. It’s been an interesting learning experience so far, albeit messy at times, but interesting nonetheless. As cheesy as this is going to sound, when I was handed my set of keys on March 15, I wasn’t only being handed keys to my house, but also the keys to new experiences I would be gaining as an adult by living on my own. There are days where I feel like I’m finally starting to get my life together, but there are definitely more days when I feel like I’m tripping over my own feet trying to be a responsible adult (i.e. that time the washing machine spazzed out on me when I tried doing laundry on my own for the first time). Although I do have my not-so-glamorous moments, the important thing is that I am slowly figuring it all out, and that each misstep is still a step in the right direction.