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As a rising senior in college, I've been daydreaming more and more about my life after I put on the cap and gown, walk away with my diploma in hand, and start a new chapter in the book that is life.  This new chapter is so close, and soon I will be living on my own.  The word ‘independence’ resonates with me, as I see it as the ability to do things that I’ve always wanted to do (with a budget of course).  With lists of restaurants, clubs, food markets, and affordable interior design websites all on the Notes application on my laptop, I’m constantly revising it with new finds.  For some people who are entering their last year of college, independence might scare you or excite you!  Hopefully this article can turn that frown upside down and see the positives of becoming independent!  Here are just some daydreams of mine.

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#1 Ownership

Growing up, I didn’t have a dog or a cat: I always had fish.  For as long as I can remember, I have been telling my parents that when I get my first house, I will have a pet.  So while hopefully living in a pet-friendly apartment, I want to get a cat.  Having a cat will give me something to come home to, but also give me some responsibility.  Even though I would most likely live with a roommate, I would love to have a feline friend to call my own.  Isn’t that nice?  Something to call my own.  Because it’s mine, I bought it, I own it.  Those are the little things that get me squealing about moving out of my parent’s house.  (Also, I’ve already decided I will name my cat Peaches. Whether boy or girl, I think it’s an adorable name.)

People can agree, when you own something like a couch, television, or pots-n-pans, it’s a great feeling. The ability to say, ‘I own this,’ is very exciting.  It is important to remember that with ownership comes responsibility, and that is something good to have outside of work.  Overall, ownership symbolizes maturity, exemplifying to your parents that you can be a responsible young adult. Again — whether a cat, plant, or couch, you have to treat everything with care. 

#2 Decoration

College was just the beginning of transcending into your own personal style, and how you presented your room to your fellow housemates.  The thought of decorating an apartment, studio apartment, or house sounds so appealing.  It’s no longer just the four walls that you live in, but an entire place of your own.  It’s not about storage anymore (even though you will need that!), it is about finding furniture and items that accent YOU.  Finding thrift shop paintings to hang in your living room, buying containers to hold your sugar, salt, and pepper: The little things that tie a room together, or the style of your first apartment.  The thought of creating something that represents you when family or friends walk through the door and say, ‘That is so you.’  The appeal of creating a space for your own to have when you do dinner parties, sleepovers with old friends, and Easter with your family.  I’ve already dedicated a Pinterest board to my first apartment, and I’ve pinpointed a style of minimalism with a mixture of bohemian.  I’m already on the hunt to discover items for my future apartment. 

#3 Cooking

In the past four years of college food, and with my parents hiring a chef at home while I was in college, I’ve become nostalgic to foods I grew up eating and making with my family.  What I’m most looking forward to is taking time during my lunch break at work, or maybe just the last five minutes of work, to find a recipe that I can cook for myself when I get home.  I do think it’s best that my weekly groceries consist of breakfast food and healthy snacks, but for lunch and dinner  I would rather make something.  If you have a recipe in mind, and in hand, you can buy the food and make it for dinner.  It’s a great way to stay healthy and not order pizza every day.  Additionally, the best part is that if there are any leftovers you can bring them for lunch.  It’s economically efficient!

Personally, I love food markets, and the thought of waking up on a Saturday and going to local food market sounds absolutely splendid.  Once again, these are the little things.  Waking up, having a cup of tea, and heading down to the market to stock up for the week!  It’s those lifestyle choices that make you feel whole inside.

#4 Time

It's not a foreign concept to me now, as I am twenty-two, but timing is so much different once you are living on your own.  You're not following a schedule that your parents have given you.  There are no obligations unless you’ve made them yourself, and there is just a bit more free time than you had before.  As I said before, I love food markets!  The time I can spend at the food market can be by myself, or with a friend.  Weekends mean I can plan whatever I want to do.  Especially after work, I can take a guitar class, a belly-dancing class, or even a sushi-making class. 

You have more free time when you aren’t tied down by responsibilities.  I do believe once you start living on your own, when you are making your own time, you’ll also be making time for yourself, whether it’s taking a day trip to Coney Island or sitting down in Central Park to read.  Then there is traveling to see family members, or planning a weekend to visit a friend out in Maine.  Do not forget creating your own vacation time!  I know all businesses have their own standards for vacation time, but think about it: You got a week off from work, and you decide that you and your two girlfriends are going to Montana for a week to see the mountains, something you’ve always wanted to do! 

Right now I really want to travel America, so I do hope that’s a privilege I have once I’m done with college.  But that time you can spend watching all the seasons of Game of Thrones, or spending a weekend in Rhode Island is all up to you!  It can even be as simple as giving a day to clean and organize.

You always need to have a responsibility at the end of the day, but overall ownership does symbolize maturity, which everybody has inside of them.

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#5 Budgeting

You might be thinking, why does budgeting sound so appealing to you?  The reason why it does is that to me, knowing how much money I have and using it wisely means so much to me.  It comes with independence.  You have to be safe with your money and not spend it all in one place.  Do you know the difference between a net and gross pay?  Do you understand the priority list of what needs to paid first?  That is what goes into budgeting.

I had horrible spending habits when I was younger, and I regret all those Claire’s and Victoria Secret purchases.  I never saved up my allowance for anything...well once, for a pair of boots.  But as I’ve grown older I have learned the value of saving and budgeting.  Now it’s about saving money to feed myself, and not eat whatever my parent’s put in the fridge.

Budgeting is very important when it comes to being independent.  It’s appealing because it’s realistic — you have to pay for rent and utilities, while also feeding and clothing yourself.  It is just a part of life, and you shouldn’t be scared about that.

#6 Friendship

Up until now, your friends were always down the hall in the next homeroom, or right next to your room at college.  As everyone remembers during the summers between semesters, you’re taking every opportunity to spend time with them.

After you leave college, it’s a bit different.  Your friends might not all be in walking distance and you’ll have to invite them over for dinner parties, or just to hang out.  But this is also the time to make new friends.  It has been said that it’s harder to make friends once out of college, and I don’t know about you, but I refuse to believe it.  The best part is that when taking classes, going to the closest bar near you, or just making small talk at work, you can find new friends!  It’s a bit of a challenge at first, and it’s just reminding yourself what a cool person you are.  It’s like a new boost of confidence.  Everyone goes through this, especially if someone is moving from one state to the next —  how do you think Carrie Bradshaw made friends in New York? She went out and did the things she loves to do, which landed her a group of ladies.

It’s a great time in your life to discover people who have the same lifestyle choices as you.

#7 You

When I think of the word independence, I mostly think of myself.  This one part of myself that I have been waiting to explore.  I think about the time I have to myself, and to do what I want.  Like nights sitting in the kitchen reading a book with a cup of tea.  Taking my bra off once walking over the threshold into the apartment.  Laying in my bathtub soaking up the sun as it pours through my window screen on a Sunday morning.  Walking around my neighborhood on a day after work.  Inviting friends over for a night of beer and Cards Against Humanity.  Having these endless moments and possibilities of what could be next, but mostly, creating moments of happiness for myself. I do hope I can feel myself develop into the next stage of my life as I watch the sun fade in and out while I sit on a windowsill or fire escape. A place to sit every day and reflect as I watch a day phase into another.

There are these little things in life that make us so happy, that make us want to see what the next door has behind it.  Independence sounds so good, just because you are making your own rules and living the life you want for yourself. Feeling and being the person you truly are is one of the most rewarding feelings in the world!

The reason why most women in college are ready to jump out of their seats on graduation day is because they’re jumping for the next chapter of their lives, independence!

 

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