IndependentYou’re a grown up now. There is no escaping it. You have responsibilities. It is entirely up to you to keep yourself alive.

If you fall over, you have to pick yourself up. You have to earn your own money to pay your own bills. You set your own curfew. In fact – you make all your own rules now.

You are independent.

And self-sufficient.

And no matter how much you’ve been looking forward to this moment, that’s all still a bit scary.

Everything is new now. Even the things you’ve been doing for years.

You now have to arrange your banking to suit an adult budget. You have to go food shopping. You have to buy actual healthy vegetables without being told to.

Because that’s what grown-ups do.

And now your immediate goal is to enjoy your freedom as much as you can without being destroyed by your inner child.

It’s really easy to get caught up in the excitement of independence. No one is watching over you. No one is making rules for you that stop you having fun.

But letting yourself go too mad is how you end up stuck with lifelong regrets. It’s why so many students choose to repeat their first year of university – they’ve never been so free in their lives, so they waste all their time drinking and partying and forget that they’re neglecting an expensive education.

If you know how you want to approach adulthood before you leap right into it, you’ll find it a lot easier to deal with. Here are some things you might want to keep in mind.

KNOW HOW TO PRIORITISE

Your time. Your money. Your energy. It’s all precious now. Don’t go clubbing if you have work the next morning at 8am. Don’t watch hours of telly if you’ve got a month’s worth of laundry getting mouldy in a corner. Don’t buy a takeaway if you can’t afford your rent this month. Remember that the important things are the ones that keep you safe, healthy and, above all, alive. Everything else comes second. Everything.

CLEAN REGULARLY

Otherwise you will die. Do your dishes as soon as they’re dirty so you don’t end up eating something weeks-old and rotten. Wash your clothes as soon as the dirty laundry will fill the machine. Hoover long before you start noticing footprints in the dust. Lack of basic hygiene kills literally billions of people. Most of them don’t have the luxury that is decent equipment. You do. Don’t die because you’re just a moron.

LEARN SOME BASIC RECIPES

Takeaways are tasty, but expensive. Supernoodles are cheap, but stodgy and bland. If you know how to throw together a simple stir-fry or a decent spaghetti bolognaise, your belly will be infinitely happier.

KEEP YOUR MESS TO YOURSELF

If you really want to keep acting like a kid forever, there is no one around to stop you. You are free to remain as childish and unhygienic and disgusting and selfish as you like. But as soon as your nonsense starts imposing on the people around you – your housemates, your colleagues, your friends – there’s no going back. Once you’ve let your rubbish spill over into someone else’s personal space, they’ll remember that you were that disrespectful slob until you make a conscious effort to change their opinion. No one wants to be around someone that smells. Or visit a house that smells.

Basically, watch how you smell.

If you want to be irresponsible now, that is entirely your call. There is no one to stop you doing whatever you want.

But if you do behave like a child, expect your friends who are actually growing up to leave you behind.

The people who care about you will always be there to support you. But you’re a big kid now and it’s time to take care of yourself.

Kirstie Summers,

Daily Zen. 

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