14 years ago today I officially moved out of home. Well, I actually got kicked out of home two weeks before Christmas but spent the next 6 weeks sleeping on friends’ sofas, on floors when there wasn’t a sofa and spending Christmas in Ireland – my first time on a plane and the most miserable Christmas I have ever had.
But 21st January was a new start for me. It was the day when I moved into a room in a house. It wasn’t much, a room double the size of my single bed. But it was somewhere I could finally hang my clothes, somewhere I could unpack and somewhere I could try and start again.
I ended up living in that house for nearly six years. Switching rooms half way through but still staying in that same house. It was a time that helped me a lot – gave me somewhere to live, somewhere to call home and somewhere to be happy. It was where I was living when I met Dave and when I got the job with the company I still work for now and where I learnt to drive. It was a home where I could finally be independent.
On 21st January 2002 I knew that there was no going back. I knew, at the age of 17 and a few months, that I would from then on be standing on my own two feet. I wouldn’t be going back home and I would, from then on, have bills to pay, work to go to and a whole adult life ahead of me.
From that day I was an adult, in an adult world. All my friends were at college and planning university and when, years later, I had a mortgage and a wedding to plan all those friends were still in education, still having fun and going out every night. That is how I had seen my life panning out – making friends, finishing college and enjoying my teenage years a bit more.
As it stands I didn’t really have those teenage years. I was thrown into a world I wasn’t ready for, working full time and paying rent. Trying to learn to drive at the same time and trying to squeeze a social life in somewhere too. It wasn’t all bad though. Looking back I think I did quite well for myself back then. I learnt a lot – quickly. I shrunk so many clothes learning to use the washing machine and I spent a long time living off Super Noodles and not much else. But I survived and I built myself a good attitude to work. When I had nothing else, I had work to go to and from there the rest of my life came.
Looking back that 17 year old feels like a different person. I was so young and so immature in a lot of ways but I was stubborn – I couldn’t fail. I wouldn’t fail. I would succeed.
I think, 14 years on, that despite the ups and downs I did succeed. I no longer shrink clothes in the wash and I can cook better than my 17 year old self would ever have imagined. I have lived away from home for nearly half my life and I have come so far. I think now, at this point in my life, I can say that I am proud of myself. I got through.
27 thoughts on “14 Years of Independence”
This is such a poignant yet inspiring post. I imagine that it must have felt so tough at times, but bearing in mind where you are now you probably don’t regret it all. Well done you for using those challenges and difficult times to make yourself stronger, independent and focused Xx
Yep, some times were really tough but I’m a firm believer in everything in life happening for a reason. I wouldn’t be me without the experiences I have had. Thanks for reading and the lovely comments too x
Wow, what a difficult time for you. I think you’ve done incredibly well to work everything out for yourself and be so successful. When I went to uni, I had just turned 18 and everything was in place for me. Despite this, it was still difficult learning to fend for myself. So to have to learn how to cope on your own completely at 17 is a real achievement. It is great to be able to look back and remember that you got through it despite everything and came out stronger.xx
Thanks Natalie. At the time it felt like an uphill struggle but yep, it does feel like an achievement now x
Goodness Donna, what a milestone! But you are such an inspiration and you’ve worked hard for everything you have!
Happy anniversary! No, wait. Should there be congratulations here?
Well done on not letting life drag you down. Doesn’t sound like it’s been easy.
It hasn’t but in some ways the early years of being independent felt like they happened to someone else. Glad I’m now where I am though! x
Wow, Donna, what an incredible story! You should be so proud of yourself for everything you’ve achieved, many wouldn’t in the same situation.
Gosh it must have been hard going it apne at 17, you must be mega proud of how you have dealt with stuff. I know people in their mid 30’s with families of their own who can nearly stand on their own two feet xx
I was in a very similar situation to you at 16. I’d left home, had a full time job and a part time college course, a flat to pay for and a life to build. I made some very iffy decisions along the way but ultimately ended up with a wise(ish) head on young shoulders which made me a fairly strong person. Life doesn’t always go the way we imagine it will, but for all the bad early on in my life there’s really not much I’d change. Just makes me, me. Well done you for not letting a tricky start to adulthood get the better of you. Happy independence day!
Thanks Pam. Less lemons now – more gin! x
A really inspiring post and a milestone to be proud of. Perseverance and self-belief is sometimes all you need x
You should be so proud of yourself – *you* did it, and became the awesome person you are today! I dread to think what I’d have done left to my own devices at 17. (I still live on sandwiches if I’m left to my own devices now, heated food would have been a forgotten luxury, lol.)
I love this post, I too have living “as an adult” since I was 16, it makes you a different person, I find that these my friends now at 38 get stressed over I don;t 🙂
I agree. Some people just haven’t lived in the same ways x
HAHA, I haven’t really changed much to be fair…
The circumstances were very different but I got told to leave when I was 18, and can relate to a lot of what you’ve written. It was really tough at the time, but I think it makes you appreciate everything just that little bit more when you really know how easy it could be to fall through the cracks and have had a very different life to the one you carve out for yourself x
I’m sorry you went through that too Mary – but yes, it definitely makes you appreciate things so much more x
I know we have spoken about this before Donna but your life sounds eerily like Mr E’s. He was kicked out of home 2 weeks before Christmas when he was 18. It makes me so sad to think about him (and you) having a tough time but I am thoroughly sure it’s made him the most amazing person he is now. x
I’m sure it has too. I have a feeling your Mr E is a really good man x
Did you harbour any anger for being placed in that situation at such a young age ? Giving what you know and now and what you have achieved now, would you go back and change anything
I tried so hard to stay living at home, literally years of trying to sort things out but I never felt anger, just utter sadness. Hindsight is a great thing and tbh I think everything turned out for the best. It was such a messy situation that I don’t think I could have done anything differently x
It’s only really the last few months that I’ve reflected on it properly. It’s sad that ‘care’ often ends at 18 and back then I felt quite in limbo as far as the social system was concerned. Sorry you had to go through that too x
I can’t imagine what it must have been like for you having to earn a living and pay your own way at 17 – I was still relying on my parents enormously at that age. But you did it, and look where you are now! You should be really proud of yourself for making your own way and making the lovely family you have now xx
Oh Donna, I can’t believe this happened to you and that you went through all this at such a young age. You really have come such a long way and made a massive success of your life. I bet you are so proud of yourself now and it’s made you the person you are today. Also, I bet having children of your own makes it all the more difficult looking back at what happened.
Gosh, what a story! And what a testimony to where hard work and determination can get you. So inspirational!
You are amazing, you are a winner, you are definitely a success story! x