The Fear and Freedom of Leaving Home

Words by: Angel Tully
Art by: Brooke Stevens

Flashback to February 2021: I have just finished the best summer of my life. Year 12 is over, lockdown is over, all my friends have just turned 18 — we are thriving. After riding this high, and discovering all the joys of being independent and venturing into adult life, I knew I wanted a change; a big one at that! I could have gotten a funky new haircut, or maybe reinvented my wardrobe, but no, I decided at the ripe age of 18 that I wanted to move out, all on my own. 

I toyed with the idea of moving in with a friend and — like any hypothetical planning session with your bestie —  we had practically picked out the exact toaster we wanted by the end of the day. Knowing that even if I moved out, I would have the security of a close friend with me made the change a bit less intimidating. We became consumed with excitement discussing all the fun things we could do together once we were living by ourselves. When my friend eventually decided she couldn’t leave her parents’ house yet, I was beyond convinced that this next step was the one I needed to take that I decided to do it on my own anyway. So I moved into a cute little one-bedroom apartment in the inner city. And just like that, the next chapter of my life had begun.

I can assure you that all of the things about living by yourself you think will be fun are even better than you could imagine. I have dance parties in my living room with just myself, I spend an hour cooking a basic meal because I don’t know how to cook very well, I can come home at any time I want and don’t have to worry about waking anyone up, and I can have whoever I want over at any time! Being able to pick out all of your own furniture (shoutout to Facebook Marketplace) and being able to call it all your own is a great feeling. Sometimes it almost doesn’t feel real; as if I am just playing house and that surely I am not old enough to be living alone… I mean I still feel 17, after having lost the last two years to Miss Rona! But with every new experience I have living outside of home, I’m reminded of how much I am grateful for and how far I have come in the last few years.

This is not to say that I haven’t had my fair share of difficulties. Sometimes we forget how much we rely on others to help us, even for the smallest things. At home with my parents, I would often ask my dad to do little technical tasks for me such as fixing the TV or something of that vague description. However, since moving out, I have been forced to learn these skills myself. I connected my own NBN (so many plugs: it was simple but I still struggled), I built furniture (estimated time: 45 minutes, my time: five hours) and I worked out how to make my fire alarm stop ringing when my sub-par cooking set it off (oops!). But in all seriousness, it is hard work. Especially when you are feeling run-down and in need of a little TLC from Mum, but you get home from a long day and you have to make your own dinner, and take care of yourself. I found this difficult very early on in my move when I got sick and was reduced to a couch potato for a week, only rising to heat up some sort of instant food that I was mildly interested in. Although this challenged me, it made me realise that I made the right choice to move out alone — we have to learn to take care of ourselves and not be dependent on others. If I had had a roommate, it would have been hard to not turn to them for help if I was sick, but they would be just as lost in navigating their independence as I am; they wouldn’t know what to do either.

People often ask me if I get lonely living by myself, but the truth is that since moving out, I have learnt to love being on my own. Being an only child, I had an unfair advantage of not being surrounded by the chaos of siblings to prepare me for the silence of living alone. But in truth, moving out has been the best experience and has helped me to grow as a person in countless ways. Not only have I learnt many new life skills, such as cooking, budgeting, the responsibility of cleaning my apartment and doing my own laundry, but I have learnt how to be happy without anyone else and how to spend time with myself, which has led me to become much more independent and sure of who I am. 

I have loved this new journey of independence and embracing this next chapter in my life. I have a great relationship with my parents, and I still go back to visit them and my dog regularly (literally, the worst thing about moving out was leaving my dog, okay!!!). But there has never been a day that I regretted moving out. Even if some of my friends have more savings than me now, I know that I am investing in myself. I have grown up so much in the last year, and have become a person that I know a younger Angel would be so proud of. So in my mind, that’s money well spent. 

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