Moving away from my family as well as my hometown was hard enough but living alone has opened a whole new chapter and perspective on life.
My family and I moved to Australia in 2008 from Manila, Philippines, where I was born, then moved to Albury in 2009.
My parents wanted my sister and I to have better opportunities and believed Australia could do just that. It was easier for my parents to start this new journey in a smaller town as opposed to a big city where expenses were massive obstacles. Since 2009, I’ve called Albury my home.
Albury is a small (but growing) town with a population of 54,477 (2020), located on the border of two states, New South Wales, and Victoria.
In 2019, during my final year of high school in Albury my main goal at the end of the year was to be accepted at the University of Technology in Sydney (UTS) to study journalism (the year after I graduated). Luckily, I worked hard enough to achieve the grades I needed and was fortunate to be offered a place UTS.
Prior to this decision, I was prepared to move away – very keen to move away actually– as I knew Sydney would offer me the best opportunities if I wanted to pursue journalism, as well as to have a fresh start in another place.
I started to feel trapped in Albury and ultimately wanted to venture out of small town.
However, this tremendous move would mean I would be seven hours away from everything I knew and was comfortable with– my family, the streets I could navigate with my eyes closed, the people I’d gone to school with for the past 13 years and had developed close relationships with, the restaurants I’d memorised the menus of; and everything that was the regional town of Albury.
Albury is what you expect any small town to be; everyone knows everyone (else), there’s one running cinema, the shops are all closed and empty by 5pm, pubs are the ultimate dinner spots, there are no Ubers, just taxis or the occasional ‘can you do a lift?’ text from a mutual friend.
Sydney on the other hand is whole different experience and is overwhelming for a person coming from a place where you can tour the whole city in two hours.
In Sydney for me, two hours is equivalent to travelling all the way to the beach on public transport from where I live now – A huge difference to say the least.
I moved to Sydney in March 2020, just before the pandemic lockdown started.
I lived with my sister but at the start of 2021, but she decided to move back to Albury which meant another new journey was ahead of me. Not only would I be living in Sydney – still learning my way around – but doing it all solo.
I’m 19 years old and I’ve been living by myself for a couple of months now and I’m no expert, but I’ve already picked up a few valuable lessons which have changed my perspective of life in the best ways possible.
1. Accept mistakes, it’s part of life
Mistakes happen for a reason, that’s what they’re there for. I knew living in a new city, I would make countless mistakes; however, I didn’t want to experience them as I tend to beat myself up over small mishaps.
The utter embarrassment I have experienced through those mistakes – such as showing up to a meeting for the first time an hour late, soaked in rain after I got lost – will never disappear and that’s just my reality.
Especially living alone, I only have myself to rely on and I’m responsible for everything; the faster I accept a mistake, the easier I am able to move on and grow.
I’ve learnt to see these mistakes as positive curve balls the universe has thrown at me –they keep life exciting. Instead of getting mad at mistakes I’ve made, I just think ‘what have I learnt from these mistakes’ – there’s always an answer to every difficult situation and a reason why they happen.
These answers aren’t handed on a silver platter to me either as it truly depends on whether I have worked hard to fully understand what I am meant to learn. It may even take me a couple of repeated mistakes until everything sinks in.
2. Patience is key
Trying to learn from my mistakes takes patience as the universe isn’t going to let me get away with things too easily.
For a long time, I thought I could get a job with the snap of a finger but unfortunately, I have learnt that’s not how life works.
I was jobless for four months, applying daily online and handing out my resume to stores only to be shut down with “we’ll definitely contact you once we’re hiring” only to see my resume shoved into a drawer never to be seen again.
I quickly realised it was going to take longer than I anticipated, but I couldn’t give up. Being independent also meant no one was there to cheer me on or give me pep talks so, I had to persuade myself to keep going.
After being turned down a copious number of times, I was finally hired at a retail store, and I have never been more grateful. I found a great job, working alongside genuine people who I now call my best friends.
This has been the biggest lesson to date: I have learnt to wait and not give up and that everything will work out in the end. I don’t need to worry or to stress myself out. The right people and rewards will come to me, I just need to have a little patience.
3. The right people will come, and appreciate them when they do
When I was out of work, I also had almost no friends. Sure, I had two friends from university, but they lived on the other side of Sydney which made making plans difficult. As a result, I had no social life outside of university and no friends in the same suburb.
Little did I know, I would meet the right people at the right time of life – a time when I thought I had nothing going for me.
Once I started working, I grew close with my friends at work, and it didn’t take long, which showed I had met the right group of people and my need for human connection was finally realized.
When my sister moved out, I found myself wanting to hang out with my friends more. I even took up extra shifts at work just to be with them.
I waited so long for the opportunity to have friends, I’ve now become protective over these friendships as I’m afraid to lose any of them, so I work at them a lot.
This fear made me appreciate everyone who I have been lucky to call my friend.
I now value the time I get to spend not only with my Sydney friends, but also my friends and family in Albury.
4. Time is precious, don’t waste it
Living alone means I can make my own schedule and do what I you want at whatever time I you want – sounds like the dream. However, it can only work if I you manage your time wisely.
I’ve nowhere near mastered time management yet and instead have found myself anxiously writing two essays jammed into four days due to terrible time management– not so much of a dream anymore.
Living alone means no one is there to wake me up or tell me when to take the rubbish out – it’s up to me to decide when to be productive throughout the day.
Creating a schedule is the best way to use time effectively.
I have learnt to Start by making a schedule at the start of each day and gradually plan for a few days then eventually weeks.
Setting goals every day is also very helpful in staying productive and keeping on top of things, even if the goal is as simple as doing the shopping.
Another lesson I’ve learnt with time is the importance of making time for other people as well as yourself. Ever since making new friends, each minute I spend with them is valuable.
It’s easy to say no and stay in but, the friendship will never develop. I have become more of a ‘yes’ person.
By leaving room in my schedule exclusively for socialising, it also shows how committed I am to creating solid friendships, and how much I’m willing to invest to be with them.
However, I’ve also learnt not to over work myself and leave some time to be alone.
It’s exhausting keeping busy all the time – the body and mind both need rest. Our social batteries need to be recharged to be the best version of ourselves around others.