Four months ago, I moved out. On the surface it seems a little unusual to me that I haven't really written anything truly substantive about the transition up until this point. At the beginning I thought this site could end up turning into a weekly play-by-play of how things were coming along, but thankfully it didn't turn out that way. Perhaps how smooth and uneventful the process has been meant I wasn't preoccupied with my immediate circumstances. There also may have been a part of me that was waiting for some sort of grand revelation, a moment of self-realisation where I came to terms with what the meaning of this all was. I didn't have such a moment.
Maybe that fact is some sort of epiphany in of itself. It's been exciting, it's been enlightening, but it hasn't been profound and that's okay. It might be a great thing, actually.
All of that is not to say I haven't learnt anything, because I have. A lot of important lessons have come up in the past four months, and I'm continue to figure out new things about myself each and every day. In lieu of any grand realisation, there have been many small lessons. And so it is that I attempt to put together descriptions of a couple of these lessons here. Make of them what you will.
It seems to me that moving out has led me to a live a life that is a purer expression of who I am as a person. This might seem obvious, simply a roundabout way of saying that I can do what you want, but I think it's more nuanced than that. It would be unfair on my parents to say that they imposed many restrictions on the way that I lived when I was at home because in reality they did not. It does seems to me that though that there is a tendency to for me to gravitate to some sort of set of default behaviours and standards. This cuts both ways. In the ways that I am naturally relaxed, I am more so. Similarly, the areas in which I am uptight and obsessive, I tend to be more aware of that too.
When I was younger, I never thought of myself as a particularly neat person. I never felt I was particular diligent when it came to being organised either. It does therefore seem strange to me now that I feel as though I really place as much value on cleanliness and order in my home environment as I currently do. It's certainly not a bolt out of the blue, because I was probably heading in this direction before I moved, but now that I have more control over more aspects of my environment it has become obvious that I do value these things.
This leads to my second point. Reality check time: you are probably more like your parents than you care to realise. What I mean by 'parents' here is the person or people who raised you; your guardians, whoever they might be. As young adults we tend to think of ourselves as substantively different people to those who raised us, but we aren't. The way I see it, this is bad news for uppity young folk and somewhat of a relief for parents. It's certainly a reason to persist with teaching important lessons to children may seem to be ignoring at the time: eventually it will sink in.
For example, unless I immediately plan on returning to a room, I turn the light off. That's my Dad's thing. 'One day you'll be paying for that,' he said. It turns out that that isn't what motivates me to turn them off at all; instead it's the force of habit, a general distaste of wastefulness and a desire to care for the environment that make me do it. I hang my shirts upside down by the seams like my mother showed me. In general I seem to care about a lot of the same things they care about and fuss about the things they fuss about. I am not the same person as either of them, but I am most definitely of them.
Living with someone new gives you an opportunity to reflect on the residual habits of life that might seem odd to other people. So many times either Shaun or myself will be doing something and ask one another 'why do you do it like that?' It's most often him saying things like this to me, honestly. Sometimes he'll suggest a different way to approach something that I will either adopt, consider or pass up. Whichever I choose, it's always an opportunity to reconsider certain habits and behaviours that become actions we perform unconsciously. Even if the actions seem trivial in nature, the process of reassessing and making a decision is not. We should all be looking for opportunities to get better each and every day, and the moment that you accept you do something one way simply because that's the way you do it is the day you close the door to self-improvement. There can be no avoiding carrying our past with us wherever we go, but we should be able to let elements of it go when it is necessary.
I think these observations are not simply about moving out. In reality, they could apply when we talk about any transition that involves moving your own rules, priorities and values to the top of the stack. Life as an individual means you are ultimately accountable for your own behaviour. Whatever advantages and disadvantages this carries with it, the transition has to occur at some point. I feel as though it is best to embrace this idea of ultimate accountability sooner rather than run from it. These last four months have been wonderfully eye-opening. I look forward to sharing whatever else I learn as I wander further down this path with you all.