It’s been almost a year since I left the safe cocoon of home and ventured out into a bigger city on my own. I have to admit, this was something I was thinking of doing many years ago, but never got around to because I had settled in nicely already and was quite happy with how my life was turning out. It was a perfectly comfortable set up. But then this move just sort of fell on my lap and I thought—things happen for a reason. There must be something I can learn from this experience. Besides, where was my sense of adventure? When an opportunity comes, why not grab it?
And so it was. I can’t believe it’s been a year since the condo-hunting, taking inventory of my belongings and deciding which things to take with me, and all the emotional, tear-filled ups and downs that come with transplanting yourself to a new place. Today though, I would have to say that I recommend it for everyone. You have got to live on your own at least for a year or so of your life. Here are the highlights of what I learned:
- God is good– This is the most important lesson of all. When I think of all the wrong or scary things that could have happened to me, I can’t help but shiver and think of how blessed I’ve been to enjoy the Lord’s protection. Since moving here, I have never gotten into any mishap or accident, and considering how bad the weather gets here sometimes (and I walk to and from the office), not a single raindrop has even touched me. Plus I miraculously managed to find a place to live that is so near to where I work that I’ve never had to suffer through horrible traffic jams. So everything worked out seamlessly, and my loved ones are safe and happy as well back home. I’ve always known that I live a charmed life, but it’s only now that I realize just how blessed I really am. It makes such a difference to keep a happy, positive attitude and to rely on your faith.
- People are generally kind– Everyone was warning me about people from the big, bad city, and yet I have found them to be nothing less than courteous and pleasant. Cab drivers good naturedly tell me to take care, people from a crowded bus get up to offer ladies their seat, service people always go the extra mile, sometimes even random strangers smile and nod hello while going about their business. I really think what you give out to the world is what it gives back to you, and as long as you believe people are good, they will be good to you too.
- There are talents left untapped in everyone– I never thought I could survive the time when I was designing and decorating my own place. I had no idea what I was doing—all I had was Pinterest– and yet I am very happy with the result- a little French chic nook that looks exactly the way I envisioned it to. Shortly after, I tried my hand at yoga and later even managed to do a headstand. The point is, you never know what you are capable of unless you try. And in a way, being in a new city all on your own gives you the courage to explore new interests and endeavors.
- Becoming a domestic diva is natural– My parents used to joke that I was like a decoration at home because I had absolutely no contribution to its upkeep. I knew nothing about cooking, much less laundry, or cleaning. And yet when I settled in my new place, I started experimenting with food and flavors, making healthier choices, or mending little nooks and crannies, and keeping everything tidy. It’s all surprisingly easy and yet I never would have learned any of this if I had stayed at home. Okay, I’m never going to turn into Martha Stewart, but I know how to take care of myself now and how to live well. It makes me happy when my mom comes to visit and as soon as she steps in, she smiles in approval. Major achievement!
- Friends are the family you choose– Living on your own also means being able to connect with people other than family. I am so lucky that my best friend and several other close friends have moved here too, and we hang out, find new ways to enjoy, and take care of each other. It’s also nice to make friends with new people and create new memories.
- Check off your bucket list– People who know me know that I live by lists. Grocery lists, clothing lists, task lists, and the like—and moving to a new city was no exception. I didn’t want to experience Manila just visiting its different shopping centers and night spots, I wanted to really get acquainted with the city. And so I’ve done a Manila bay yacht cruise, a Carlos Celdran tour of Intramuros, watched a massive Rihanna concert, been to a live ABS CBN show, listened to the symphony orchestra play, marvelled at the Christmas lights show at Ayala Triangle, been to the ballet, tried out the Binondo food trip, seen the Spolarium in the National Museum, done a roadtrip to Tagaytay, had a beer while gazing at the view from Antipolo, visited my college campus, grabbed a bite at the Salcedo Market… and the list goes on and on and on. This is the perfect time to explore and really squeeze the juice out of life!
- Be humble– One of the things that made living at home safe and comfortable is that everything was convenient. If you need something, you will most likely know someone who can help make things easier for you. But in a new city, no one knows you and you are just like everyone else. There is no special treatment, less connections, and so on. So it is indeed humbling, and yet also liberating because you are free to shape yourself into a better, more grounded person.
- Smiling makes all the difference– Oh I have proven this many times. I could be a walking disaster area, having a hell of a day, and then a random stranger looks me in the eye and smiles. And by instinct you smile back and think—what am I whining about? Or when people from the service industry go about their business, fetching you water or greeting you a good morning as you step into a store—how many of us really stop, look them in the eye, and acknowledge their presence, say hello or smile? Or say you’re in a flight and you see someone struggling with their luggage—would it take that much effort to extend a hand to help? These things completely change your day, and your whole outlook as well. I think everyone should do this every chance they get.
- Learn to appreciate the simple things– Living on your own also means you have plenty of time to think and reflect on what really makes life beautiful. Sometimes it’s a light breeze that tickles you as you walk, sometimes it’s looking out the window and seeing a beautiful moon, sometimes it’s seeing lights twinkle from up in the air while flying on a clear night, sometimes it’s sunny days by the pool with a friend, and sometimes it’s hugging your loved ones who come to visit. I’ve come to realize that despite the glitz and glamour I am occasionally exposed to, it really takes very little to make me happy, and I’m grateful for all of it.
I guess this year has really helped me grow up…and now I can’t wait for what more lies ahead! Cheers ladies and here’s to a life well-lived.