Words by: Soraya Rezal 
Art by: Callum Johnson

At 15 years old, all I could think about was how great it would be if I lived alone, because that would mean I was an adult, right? I could sing my lungs out without being judged, leave the house whenever I wanted and eat at whatever time I desired. The thought of having complete independence was enticing, but I didn’t quite think about the responsibilities that came with being an adult. When the day finally came — or more accurately, the days leading up to it — I was terrified, to say the least.

To give you a bit of context, I moved to Melbourne in February 2022. I went from living with my family in my home country, to living alone in a country where I knew a grand total of two people (who I’d only met virtually). In the days leading up to my flight, I was the most disorientated I’ve ever been. Can you believe that for months, I was telling everyone I knew about how excited I was to move, but when the time came, I felt so anxious that I even threw up a few times? Embarrassing, I know. In my defence, I was about to experience multiple firsts at the same time — because that was my first ever solo trip, too. Of course I was terrified!

Fast forward to when I arrived in Melbourne, and it took me about two seconds to realise that from that moment on, I was officially an adult. My first week here was a bit of a struggle (and by a bit, I mean I cried for four days straight). Even putting on my bedsheets was a challenge — I had no idea how to lift the mattress without breaking my back. But the moment that completely broke me was when I realised I had to cook for myself. Now, I don’t mean to sound privileged, but prior to this, I had never cooked a full meal by myself. Back home, I was often tasked to set the dining table, but I was almost never in the kitchen. 

I remember sitting in my room, my stomach grumbling, thinking about how to avoid starvation. I knew that spending all my money on takeaway food everyday was not a good idea, so I decided to Google some easy recipes; the first thing that popped up was spaghetti carbonara. I got up from my chair, put some makeup on and went to the nearest Woolworths to buy cookware and the ingredients I needed (and yes, I did wear makeup just to go on a five-minute walk to the grocery store and yes, I did buy all of my cookware from Woolies). 

When I got back to my accommodation and started to cook, everything went wrong. I spilled milk everywhere, I didn’t add enough cheese… it was a complete shit show. The finished product was less like pasta, and more of a soup. I kid you not, I turned the stove off and started bawling right there and then. How the hell do adults do this?!

As clichéd as it sounds, practice really does make perfect. I’m not saying I’ve perfected my carbonara (though I did try to cook it again after that first traumatic experience) but I’ve accepted the fact that it’s a dish that I’m just incapable of making. Instead, I decided to experiment with other types of pastas… and also sandwiches. But that’s about it. My culinary knowledge does not go beyond pasta and sandwiches. And that’s fine by me! A big part of adulting is being able to identify your strengths and weaknesses, which is something that I am admittedly still working on. Nowadays, I tend to rely on takeaway food for dinner, but I try to cook at least once a week so that I can work on my cooking skills.  

If there’s one piece of advice I could give my past self and to you, dearest reader, I would say it’s time to get your ass up and go to the kitchen. I’m kidding… but in all honesty, I think I would have benefitted from practising a bit of independence when I was still living with my family, be it cooking my own meal or doing my own laundry. 

Although, I don’t regret taking my time to embrace adulthood. It’s equally important to make the most of your childhood because trust me, it only gets more stressful from there! Despite all the challenges, becoming independent has allowed me to embark on a journey of self-discovery. To me, adulting is a continuous learning process and I can assure you that you’ll figure it all out as you go. Now, which one’s the fabric softener slot on the washing machine again?

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