YOA Ambassador, Joel Young
I’ll be the first to admit that moving out of home is brave, exciting and frighteningly expensive. The decision is a hard one, to leave behind all you are familiar with and transition into a foreign environment. It can often be necessary to reach the next chapter of your life, one that’s waiting for you to write. It’s hard leaving the comfort of a rent free abode with prevailing wifi, a permanently stocked fridge, cooked dinners and free laundry service for the economically irresponsible pathway of independence. I should know! Earlier this year, I put my childhood town in the rear vision mirror and embarked on a 2000km adventure to a place where I knew no one. Whether it be a permanent commitment, a study exchange or extended holiday, here are my top five reasons why you should consider doing the same.
1. Building a new network
Unless you’re a remarkably extroverted human who has reached the friend limit on Facebook and seems to know every 3rd person on the globe, there’s a significant chance you’ll have start building your group of friends and acquaintances from scratch. The only thing worse than having to do your own laundry is that in order to thrive in a new environment, you have to meet people. Sure, Netflix and pyjamas on weekends are great for a while, but eventually you’ll need to find people who you can call your tribe. At first, it’s challenging (especially if you’re as introverted as me). Before you know it, you become a natural at the most valuable skill-set you will ever acquire, how to interact with other human beings. The process of building a connection and maintaining friendships is a vital talent that you will need for the rest of your life.
2. Look at me, all independent!
Unless you’re still in driving distance to your home (that’s cheating, by the way) there’s a good chance your new-found freedom also includes dishes, washing, bills, cooking and cleaning. Whether you like it or not, you quickly become self-reliant. If something needs to be done, you are the person who has to do it. Your dad can no longer fix your flat tyre, your mum can’t come to the rescue and drop off the assignment you forgot, and your best friend can’t cover for you when you want to call in sick to work. Don’t worry though- it’s not all doom and gloom! The upside to independence is the knowledge that you have the ability to take control of your situation. If you want something you done, no one else can do it but you. You begin to show initiative, spot opportunities and create your own memories for yourself. If it needs to be done, you’re the one.
3. You can establish a new reputation
The greatest benefit of a big transition is it allows you to start fresh. Want to dress like you’re still in the 80’s? Do it. Always wanted to dye your hair and join a band? Now’s your chance. The people you meet won’t know who you are, where you were born and that you are Bill’s second son. You will have the freedom to explore your interests and hobbies without the opinions you would likely hear at home. If you don’t create a culture for yourself, the one you grew up with will continue to govern you. Being in a new town allows you the opportunity to establish a whole new environment that is completely your choice. You can choose your friends, who you live with, and where you do your grocery shopping. Consolidating your reputation will allow you to develop into who you want to be without influences or distractions from others. Get that right, and like-minded people will automatically be attracted to you.
4. You find out who cares
You know how something can be not only a good thing, but a bad thing? This is one of those. Temporarily cutting your ties with your friends and family back home will be a painstaking process. Sure, they are still a phone call away, but not seeing their face every week can begin to take its toll on you. Even though you still have friends back home, the first few months of living by yourself will make you feel like you have no support system. It’s the people who truly care about you that will keep in contact, that will Skype you, text you to see how things are going, beg you to come home and send you spontaneous care packages. These are the people you want to hold on to. Taking this leap of faith is like going to a gym for emotions, it pushes you to be internally strong. The fear of being all on your own can be crippling, but before long you learn how to control it and learn that it doesn’t matter how many friends you have, unless you are confident in yourself.
5. You find you
(Warning: be prepared to eat at a cafe alone, go to a movie by yourself and spend more weekends at home than you think is socially acceptable). Sometimes you have to lose yourself to improve yourself. In the first few months of moving away from home, my career trajectory completely changed. Within half a year, I had a definitive vision of what I wanted to do, who I wanted to be and the things that genuinely interested me. I was no longer restricted by the boundaries I was placed in at home, and moulded by my family expectations. Best of all, you’ll have all the time in the world to find out who you are. The schedule which was once filled with catch-ups with friends can now be temporarily invested into your personal development. As important as your closest friends and family are to you, it’s so vital that you first discover who you are as a person. Solo adventures will help mature you into a kinder, more empathetic and insightful individual. It teaches you to seek out and celebrate the unfamiliar, making you more adept at adjusting to the only constant in life: change. To adventure on your own is an unusual thought. In order to be found, you first have to be missing.
So go on, get lost. I promise it’ll be worth it.
Joel Young is studying at the School for Social Entrepreneurs, while completing a degree in Marketing & Entrepreneurship at Melbourne’s RMIT. He is determined to pursue a career in social enterprise; a field that intertwines his passion for social justice and business development. A strong advocate for volunteer involvement, Joel has had the privilege of working with a number of change instigating organisations throughout Australia and South East Asia. On the rare occasion that he has time left in his week, you’ll most likely find him out sourcing new additions to his vinyl collection, or at the markets stocking up for his next culinary creation.
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