As a child, I dreamed of living a life where I got to do whatever I wanted to all of the time.
In this ideal life, I would go to bed whenever I pleased and sleep in as late as I wanted and, when I woke up, whether it was 6 am (a time my mother deemed “far too early” for opening Christmas presents or watching Saturday morning cartoons) or 2 pm (a time my mother deemed “far too late” for an energetic young woman such as myself to be sleeping in to), I would go to my imaginary kitchen and eat chocolate cake and ice cream for breakfast.
I would never have to do chores in this dream world. No dishes or laundry or bathrooms to clean. No beds to make. A life of leisure and luxury was the life I would live when I went to college. Or at least that’s what I thought would happen when I was a kid.
Well, that time has come and I am officially a college student. I am living on my own. I don’t answer to my mother. I answer to my roommate, Courtney. I choose when and what to eat. I choose when I go to sleep and when I wake up. I am independent.
And it’s hard.
Don’t get me wrong. There are great things about not living with your parents:
- You don’t have to apologize for coming home late.
- You can dance naked in your room (if your roommate isn’t coming home for a while) and nobody questions it.
- You can roll out of bed 10 minutes before class starts, brush your teeth, slap on some deodorant and wear your pajamas to class and your mom isn’t going to tell you to put on something presentable.
- You can drink all the coffee you want without your dad telling you that it’ll stunt your growth.
- You get full artistic liberties when it comes to what you wear, eat, drink, think, say, and do.
It’s liberating, really. But with great power comes great responsibility.
For a girl like me, who never woke up to alarms, whose mother would gently wake her up with such sweet sayings as “Get yourself out of bed right now, young lady!” and “I am not driving you to school again if you miss your bus, girlfriend!” waking one’s self up every morning is a real struggle.
I have an 8:30 class every other day and I try so hard to wrestle myself out of bed to go to that class but, sometimes, the fact that I didn’t go to bed until 3 a.m. and the fact that I haven’t had a healthy, solid meal with all of my food groups in a week and half win and I roll back over and don’t go to that class.
On top of not being able to get out of bed, I have a basket full of the clean laundry I did last night sitting next to me that probably won’t get put away until I need the basket to bring my dirty clothes to the laundry room next week. I have a pile of dirty dishes sitting on my desk that I need to take down to the kitchen and wash but that just seems like so much work. I have a couple of shirts that I’ve ruined for life by washing in the wrong load or not using stain remover at the appropriate time.
Given all of these little tasks I struggle with, I’ve found that the hardest part of living on my own is treating my body the way it deserves to be treated.
I don’t take my vitamins regularly because I don’t have my mom to tell me to.
I don’t drink enough milk because the cafeteria has pop and that just sounds better to me.
I don’t eat enough vegetables or proteins because I no longer have my mother making me a well-rounded home cooked meal every night.
Instead, I have the school dining center offering me chicken strips and cream cheese wontons, along with some healthier options, but the chicken strips and the cream cheese wontons win out every time. They’re just so tasty!
A tip for you, my dear readers: appreciate your parents and guardians who make sure you’re putting the right stuff in your body and reminding you to go to bed and wake up in the mornings.
Appreciate the nagging because, in a few months, you’ll be wishing you had someone other than yourself to drag your sorry butt out of bed.
Eat the hot dish that your mom worked really hard on because, in a few months, you’ll be wishing it was easier and more delicious to eat a solid, healthy meal that you don’t have to work for.
If you have one, appreciate the fact that you have a dish washer to put your dirty dishes into. Love the fact that you don’t have to hand wash each one.
Be grateful for not having to do your own laundry. If you already do your own laundry (good for you!) be grateful that you don’t have to wait for a machine to be free. Be grateful that you don’t have to move that one jock’s clothes out of the dryer that’ve been sitting in for the past four hours in order to use that dryer.
Living on your own is fun. Living on your own is freedom and it’s beautiful but don’t forget to be grateful for the people who provide for you now, while you don’t live on your own. Soon enough, you’ll wish you had some of those comforts that come with living in your parents’ house. I sure do.