I will never admit this to anyone, but moving away was an ecstatic experience for me. Let me be clear: I have nothing against my friends or family. I only felt like I was finally taking a step towards realizing my dreams. So, naturally, I didn’t cry a river when my parents dropped me off at my new place (a fancy term for a dorm, really) in a virtually unknown city.
Except, while sitting in my room later that night, the silence around me was disturbing. I missed the hiss of the pressure cooker, the faint chatter of the television and the pitter-patter of my dog’s paws as he explored the house. That’s when reality set in... I had moved away. It’s now been three years that I have been living alone, and here are a few things that I have learnt about myself:
The first week may be bad, but going back home too early will only make it worse.
In the first week of living alone, I held out, stayed strong, and breezed through my classes. Then came the weekend, and since I was only two hours away from family, I packed my bags to go back. Come Monday, I knew that doing so had been the biggest mistake I could ever have made.
I had been acclimatizing myself to a new environment, and all my progress had been set back by the realization that I would now have to get used to making short trips. This only made the next few months harder.
I realized how dependent I was on other people to do my job.
Let’s be clear: ‘Going to college’ is a very superficial term for what goes on behind the scenes. When you’re used to clothes that have been ironed already and a table that’s full of breakfast when you leave, hunting for a proper shirt and golfing down a sandwich while you run to class is a jarring transition.
Not only did I have to train myself to wake up to the sound of an alarm clock, but also had to alter all of my morning rituals. Two words: not fun.
But I was also excited about having a space of my own.
After I got over the initial shock, life actually got more organized than it ever had been. I developed a routine that I liked and freed my evenings to explore activities. I also distributed my work over time so I would not have to sit empty-handed. Before I knew it, my evenings were perfectly balanced between chores and shenanigans with my flatmates.
I learnt not to judge people right away.
As an introvert, I would much rather curl up in bed and watch crime dramas than make conversation with people. I realized, however, that it wouldn’t do in the real world. Thus, I challenged myself every day by talking to people I didn’t know, especially those who I had earlier thought I wouldn’t fit in with. Turned out, many of the people I had been hesitant to talk to ended up becoming friends for life.
Also, the best way to explore a city is by yourself.
A few days after I moved, I found myself becoming increasingly dependent on public transport, which wasn't always very helpful in terms of travelling and exploring. Take a tip from me: after you've acquainted yourself with the city, consider getting your own mode of transport. Not only is it highly convenient but also immensely freeing; you don't have to depend on anyone to ferry you back and forth.
I realized that back home, life will go on . . .
The first time I missed a family event was particularly hard, especially when it was accompanied by my social media being flooded with pictures. My absence at the event was glaring, and I doubted whether I had made the right decision by moving away. It was then that I realized that my family could not change their routines, even if I was out of the picture.
. . . And I would have to learn to be okay with it.
For someone who is living apart from their family, doubt is the first step towards misery. Controlling and constantly testing yourself is what makes this experiment a success. After the doubt passed over, I reminded myself of the many events that I would miss, the numerous birthdays that would be celebrated only over phone and anniversaries that will only see delivered gifts. In this case, making peace is the only way forward.
I learnt that leaving people behind is inevitable . . .
No matter what promises you made to your friends back in school or in college, the truth is that not all of them will end up on the list of people you still talk to years later. Moving away and adjusting to a new life is sure to have a toll on your relationships with people back home; some will understand your limitations while others will eventually become names at the bottom of your chat list. You will just have to learn to live with it.
. . . but there is always space for new friends.
Losing contact with the people I once cared about may have been hard, but I realized that I couldn’t stay hung up on them. The new people in my life deserved a chance, even though their time was limited as well. Eventually, the friends who were meant to be stayed that way.
Most of all, moving away was an experiment in learning who I was.
There can be no sugarcoating here: moving out of your home and to a new city is a rite of passage in its own. This is where you leave the nest, and quite literally so. For me, the experience was more enlightening than any lesson I had ever had. Most importantly, it was now my sole responsibility to do what I had wanted most in the world: to make it on my own. And while the prospect was scary at first, it opened more doors than I could ever have imagined, and only made me more determined to brave the future.
I’m sure there will be many who agree and disagree with this one, and yet others who may have read this just to prepare themselves for their own flight away from home. If you’re looking for inspiration, then watch the chronicles of Meera Sehgal, a girl who moves to Mumbai and decides to take on the city with nothing but her determination and her trusted red scooter, Mia.
To encourage other girls like her, Castrol Activ Scooter has created a cool platform for story-sharing. All you need to do is share your own crazy city tale on #ActivScooterDiaries here. Those with the best tales will get a chance to star in a music video with Meera herself. Ladies, it’s time to own the limelight!
Sponsored by Castrol Activ