Do you live on your own?

If you're a Canadian under the age of 30, you are just about as likely to be living at home as you are on your own. Well, until 4 months ago I would have fallen in with the living at home group. Sure, I was still attending University at 24, but if I'm being honest with myself I could have taken the leap and forged my own path in the world. For many years I certainly earned enough income to rent a shared apartment, but I never did. Was I too comfortable living at home or was I afraid of real world pressures and the chance of failing?

Looking back I made a calculated choice. I knew that living at home would allow me to continue on my path to self improvement without too many distractions getting in the way. No rent due at the end of the month? Might as well spend your money on a concert and have your senses blown. Short list of household chores? Leaves tons of time to surf the internet and read books.

Over the past 5 years I've dedicated my time to living my life to the fullest and learning as much as I could. This probably sounds like a convenient excuse to be a lazy bum, but I did not squander the gift I was given. Thanks parents! But now that I do live on my own I have come to discover that there are a whole different set of lessons that I did not learn while on my search. I'd say that what was lacking through the last 5 years was hard discipline. You know, I've always tried at important things like school, but I was never really tested in the same way. I feel like living alone in Ghana has pushed me to be stronger, and more patient.

First, living on your own requires full responsibility for your actions. There's no one to clean up after your messes, or to buy your groceries....just you. It forces you to take time out of your preferred schedule and do things that you don't necessarily want to do. Now, we all learn to do this to a degree as we grow up when we do homework and mow the lawn, but there's a lot more to take care of when your out on your own. Another lesson I'm learning is how to cope with loneliness. I normally enjoy my space and down time, but here the choice is taken away. I can't go upstairs to see my family, their on the other side of the planet. I can't always see friends because their busy doing grown up things too. Basically as your life falls into a steady routine there becomes a set time for things, a routine that doesn't follow your every whim and desire.

But here's what I have taken from being away from home. Learning to live with yourself is good. Responsibility grows character in the form of patience, will power and reflexibility/acceptance of unwelcome realities. There's a kind of mental exercise that occurs when you take on a larger burden of responsibility, and you become stronger for it.