10 Things I Learned Living on My Own at Sixteen

Between struggles and fulfillment

Photo by Kevin Lee on Unsplash

I was sixteen when I moved out of my home town, in the South of France. I headed straight to Paris to start Journalism studies. Two reasons motivated my choice: there was no Journalism school near my parent’s house, and I needed some fresh air.

This choice was everything but easy. I was very close to my family. I felt both too young and full of will-power, both powerless and powerful. Paris felt like a real jungle compared to my home town: full of people, noise, cars, activity, and very success-centered.

Once my choice was made, my (small) apartment was found, and school was paid, there was no turning back. I felt both excited and scared. Then, D-day came, and my father took me to Paris and left me alone in my new environment.

I remember locking my door, hearing his footsteps on the stairs, and then the building door closing. “Here we go”, I thought. I sat on the edge of my bed and felt like crying.

This all happened almost six years ago. If I had to do it all over again, I’d do exactly the same way. Living alone at a young age taught me a lot, and has greatly contributed to building the strong and independent person I am now.

Here is what I learned

1. If you don’t do it, no one will

You can only rely on yourself. Whether it’s casting out a spider or knocking on your neighbor’s door: if you don’t do it yourself, no one will. For an introvert, it can soon become a problem. Unless you decide to overcome all of this and grow.

2. Once you’ve done it once, you can do it twice

This one is kind of related to the previous one. Every time I was confronted with something that took me out of my comfort zone, I would tell myself: “you’ve been through harder things”. All these experiences are key to overcoming shyness, apprehension, and introversion.

3. Freedom is key to happiness

Crafting your own habits, your own lifestyle, and above all your own life, brings true happiness. It’s a liberating process, allowing you to truly meet yourself. It takes time, but trust me: it’s worth it. This feeling of freedom soon became key to my happiness, and I now couldn’t live without it.

4. Everything is possible

Living alone is empowering if you put things in the right perspective. Over time, it made me discover that everything is possible and sitting in the palm of my hand. I now know that I can achieve whatever I want since I put enough work and determination into it.

5. You are whole

You are whole, and you don’t need anyone to complete you. Living alone is a chance to build your own happiness, relying on nobody but you. Being with someone then becomes “la cerise sur le gâteau” (the cherry on top of the cake), as we would say in French. You’ll end up being independent and unstoppable.

6. Organization is key

As a student living on your own, you often have to balance school, work, and household. It can soon become a lot. Days are only 24 hours long and having to fit all these things in this small time window can sometimes become overwhelming. This is why organization is key. The trick is to do as many things as possible when you have time to do so (it also works for freelance work) because you don’t know when things will start piling up again.

7. Finding your limits

Living on your own also means living without a reference framework. You have fewer points of comparison, so you soon start losing markers. Then, you have to find your balance and limits, especially concerning work. I once ended up having psychosomatic stress symptoms because I was working too much, and didn’t see it. Don’t push the limits too far, and try to find your rhythm.

8. Crafting a balanced life

Crafting a balanced life, made of healthy habits, is hard. But it has a huge impact on your well-being. Once again, with no reference framework, it can be a struggle. But try to get the basics right. Eat healthy most of the time, exercise a bit, sleep well. It sounds silly and overheard, but it really matters.

9. Humans need humans

Even as an introvert, you can’t spend too much time alone, far from your loved ones, without feeling the need to be with them. This is something I learned over time: loneliness is hard. Find ways to surround yourself. Try to get back to your home town as often as possible. Learning to enjoy your presence is essential, but it doesn’t mean living totally alone. It’s all about balance.

10. Knowing yourself means having high standards

Living on your own at a young age often leads to getting to know yourself deeply. It also means finding out what you want, and what you don’t want in your life. What creates a flame of happiness, and what extinguishes it. All of this inevitably leads to having high standards when it comes to your life and your path. To me, it’s one of the greatest strengths that you can have.

Leaving alone at a young age is the fast way to becoming an adult. It’s struggling to craft a balanced life, but it’s also the best way to deeply finding out who you are, what you want, and what you want to become. It’s feeling sometimes way too small compared to the world’s ruthlessness, but finding deep down the energy and will-power to fight for what you want, and overcoming the obstacles.

Full-time traveler, trying to grasp and capture the essence of things in words — I write about life, fitness & food — auriane.alix.medium@gmail.com

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