The first night I spent in my new house was one of the most overwhelmingly happy moments of my life. I was lying in bed, staring at the high ceilings and unpacked boxes lining the floor. I was 18 and paying rent, for my own space, in my own house.
Ever since I was a baby I’ve been pretty independent. It was my twin brother who needed to be constantly held. But I liked to crawl around by myself on the carpet. And when we got older my brother would play video games while I took walks exploring our neighborhood, daydreaming about eventually having my own job and house, and maybe a dog or two.
So, I guess in a way I felt this had been a long time coming. That I had been preparing myself since birth for this moment, to take care of myself and live on my own.
But a few months into being an adult, real life started to happen. Like, sometimes at the end of the month I would only have enough money for rent but not for food. Or I’d be stressing out about registering for classes, trying to balance school and work. I would lie in that same bed and look around my room and I would get scared. Because the adult life I was building for myself felt like a Jenga set that might come crashing down at any moment.
Finally, I did what I had told myself I absolutely, definitely would not do. I asked for help. I asked my mom to help me put together a budget. I asked my roommates for tips about economizing around meals and grocery shopping. I asked my employers about giving me a raise or more hours. It was difficult. I felt like I had failed in the first stages of building my new life. But even though it was painful, learning to ask for help was probably one of most valuable lessons I’ve gained.
Lying in that same bed now, staring at the ceiling, I feel like an adult because I’ve realized that being independent doesn’t always mean I have to go it alone.