Preparing to Leave Home

When my parents introduced me to my new home in sixth grade, I rushed up the stairs to pick out my room. I settled on the room in the southeast corner, with beautiful painted wood floors and the view of the dawning sky from my floor-to-ceiling windows.

I will miss many things when I move out in two months, but I think I will miss my windows the most. Now, sitting on the floor among my scattered belongings, it feels odd to prepare myself not to come back.

Sure, I’ll visit, but the drawers and closet will be stripped of my belongings. My memorabilia might still be here, but they will be stored away in boxes until I find them a more permanent home. So as I begin the long process of tackling my own move out, here are my tips for others:

  1. So many memories. You might laugh at what you find or feel the urge to throw every cute picture online with a #throwbackthursday or #flashbackfriday hashtag. Maybe you’ll feel bittersweet and sad. Whatever feelings arise, accept that this is going to be kind of emotional.
  2. TAKE BREAKS. Seriously. Don’t nod your head and then ignore this advice and go on a marathon cleaning session. You will wear yourself out way before all your belongings are dealt with. Plus, remember the emotional part of this? You need some time to back away for your mental sake too. Personally, I like the “Unfuck Your Habitat” method of 20 minutes of work/10 minutes of rest, though I do shave down the latter to 5 minutes at times.
  3. Figure out how you are going to sort and categorize your belongings. I’ve boxed up different periods of my life: Middle school and younger, high school, college. I’ve made the decision that my beloved papasan chair is coming with me and my old dresser is hitting the curb. Box with purpose, not because you don’t know what else to do with it. If you are keeping something for vague, maybe-I’ll-need-it-someday purposes, chuck it. Either donate it or sell it but do not put in your moving boxes.
  4. Let things go. Believe me, I am a sentimentalist, but I am limiting myself to one or two boxes to certain periods of my life. I’m going to sell a lot of my old books to which I am not emotionally attached. But know what things you are unwilling to budge on: For example, I have a lot of books from college that I will keep despite it being profitable to sell them. I feel I can still learn and reflect on what I read in these books, and so they will stay.
  5. Accept the burden of your belongings. I know that my mom is thinking about selling her house in the next couple of years. Partially for this reason, I am taking the time now to make a complete move. No “Hey mom, can you just hold on to all these things I may or may not care about forever?” I know that I don’t know where I will be in the next couple of years and I also know that I don’t want anyone else to decide what happens to my belongings. For this reason, I am making sure that everything I leave at home is clearly labeled so that in due time I can take them into my possession. If your items must leave home but you don’t have space for it with you, consider a storage unit. And if your belongings are moving to a storage unit or garage, box appropriately with heavy-duty boxes so the contents don’t sustain any damage.
  6. Give yourself time. If you are a procrastinator like myself, it is really easy to keep telling yourself that you will work on moving out another day. With that mentality, you will suddenly have no days left and will wish you could recoup all that time to give your belongings the consideration they deserve. Instead, if cleaning and moving are stressful for you, incorporate fun elements to your cleaning. This could mean watching a favorite TV show or listening to podcasts or music while cleaning. Another piece of advice is to break up your clean out over time so that you can delineate solid achievements and made the burden seem less daunting.

Happy moving, and let me know your tips too!

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Navigating the Post-College Limbo

No one warns you about how young you feel upon graduating college. Immediately after putting on that cap and gown, I fielded questions left and right about what I’m up to now and do I feel different and how I’m a real adult now, but–

Shoes
Benefits of graduating: Sitting under a tree with no homework to complete.

For the most part, I’ve come out a week after graduation feeling very, very young. Age 21, college graduate; it sounded old until it didn’t anymore. I leaned on my mom’s shoulder yesterday and caught myself wondering if that’s something I am supposed to do anymore. Should I straighten up and act like other adults? The phrase “grow up, but don’t grow old” doesn’t have any real meaning to me. I’ve barely started the first one, let alone had time to ponder the second.

I am luckier than many of my fellow recent college grads. I have a job. Maybe not a totally “real” job, as some mumbling baby boomer might say, but it is a salaried position that has a hard end point of two years. It scared me less than the other possibility, where they wanted to me to commit to the career track. I liked the position, felt like I could do it well and be comfortable working there for a good long time. But then I went back to the feeling that I am too young. Twenty-one feels too soon to settle in when only a year ago I was planning my trip abroad to conduct student research. That wanderlust, that love of learning and talking to new people around the world hasn’t left me.

The woman at the career center, a few weeks before my graduation, said to me that our priorities change when we find new employment. I know, I thought at the time, that’s what worries me.

I have two months before my job begins: Two months to live at home in limbo between college student and independent adult. Each day I have to renegotiate boundaries and figure out how I can prepare for my next step. Here’s what I’ve discovered so far.

  1. Going home after graduation feels like a regular summer vacation between school years. I keep having to pinch myself and say “Hey you, you’re a college graduate.” One would think the constant questions of where I am off to next would trigger that feeling more naturally, but I have quickly figured out how to autopilot through that conversation as fast as possible.
  2. Financial boundaries are beginning to get murky. My parents have helped me tremendously through my time in college. My mom and dad have both provided me homes on breaks. My dad paid for my car and continues to pay out my car loans while I’m practically penniless. And I will likely continue to take advantage of my mother’s health insurance until someone kicks me off it. But there are little things now, building on the bigger understandings that my housing, my groceries, my whole life will soon rely on my financial decisions in a state or two away from home.
  3. I feel in my gut that I made the right decision to take the two-year job that I did. Already, I know that I feel comfortable back home, taken care of by my mother and harassed gently by my sister. My room looks the same, my cork board with my study abroad memories tacked up on the wall, my old and new books, and a cozy chair to curl up in. My diploma sits inelegantly on top of a side table, mixed in with my old life. The job I took is far from perfect. It will entail long hours and endless work, and I don’t know exactly where I will be sent yet. But I knew if I came out of graduation without a job, it would be easy to settle in and forget about my dreams.
  4. I like hard deadlines. They propel me forward, force an uncomfortable reality to take hold, and shove me out the door. Come August, I will have to leave whether I want to or not. I have to make the decision about what stays here and what goes with me when I leave home. I have to study for the GRE, because Lord knows I won’t have time to think about grad school once I begin work. And, knowing me, I’ll be madly preparing for what is to come.

Like the cliches go, one chapter must end before the other begins. Through this blog, I hope to tackle important challenges ahead with tips, tricks, and screw ups. Each week, I will take on one issue on my mind, whether that be budgeting woes, apartment prep, cooking solo, and more.

See you next week,

Callie