On Independence And Co-Habitation

Does the thought of living independently scare you? Cereb shows the fun side of it in her latest Quickie offering.

"A grownup is a child with layers on,"
said Woody Harrelson, star of the long-running sitcom Cheers, but perhaps more popularly known for films such as The People Vs. Larry Flynt, Indecent Proposal, and more recently, Management with Jennifer Aniston. I completely agree with him. There are days when I still can't believe how drastically my life has changed and how adult my problems seem to be, now that I'm independent. I try to be as grownup about them as I can be, but I still can't help but be scared or want to cry or stop being responsible for myself sometimes. There are things you do because you have to, and growing up is one of them. Fortunately, that doesn't mean the fun has to end there.

One of the more exciting things about asserting your independence is having a place to call your own. So, about a month ago, I found a nice 3-bedroom condo and three equally nice people to live with: my sister, a friend from high school, and hot, candle-making hunk, Angelo. It is quite an unusual set-up to have three girls and one guy share 44sqm of space, but it's been working out surprisingly well. We genuinely enjoy each other's company, which is why we sometimes make an effort to go home for dinner and even spend part of the weekend together. In a way, we are really just a bunch of big kids with adult responsibilities. Since all kids need to be taught a lesson, here's some of what I learned:

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  • With the first payday of the month, I should already set aside enough money to pay half the rent. The other half will be paid for with the money I get on the second payday of the month. That way, I'll have more control over my finances and I know how much I can afford to spend on other non-living expenses.
  • Your housemates are pretty much your family away from home, which is why you should make an effort to look out for each other. You're all splitting the rent, so if one of you gets sick, that could be potential rent money being spent to rectify a situation that could've been prevented in the first place. Also, they know about some of your weird habits and how you look in the morning, so it helps to stay on their good side.
  • Chores are a lot more fun when everyone's willing to help. If you have housemates who are cleaning enthusiasts (like my high school friend/housemate, Tina), take advantage of doing chores as a time to bond. If you have lazy housemates, carry on with the chores and do it with unwavering enthusiasm. He or she is bound to feel bad and eventually help out, much like how I feel when my housemates are cleaning and I'm not.
  • People can get really touchy about food, so it helps to agree on a set-up that works for the majority when it comes to this. Since we do our grocery shopping together, we just split the bill after every trip to the supermarket. We've also discussed that foods (mostly chocolates) marked with "Hands Off" should be left alone. Although it's not entirely the smartest way to do things, it's what works for us.
  • Not all boys are dirty, disorganized, or irresponsible. I initially wanted our condo to be an all-chicks' crib for fear that some boy might throw everything off course, but Angelo has proven himself very capable of co-habiting with girls. Aside from the occasional pair of briefs hanging by the window, he keeps his room, his bathroom, and the common area spic and span. In addition to that, it helps to have him around when there's heavy stuff that needs to be carried or things that need to be reached from high places.

    An aerial view of our pimpin’ crib.
The experience of independence is made worthwhile by the little day-to-day challenges you successfully overcome and the lessons you learn while doing so. For those that are harder to hurdle, it helps to come home to a good, strong support group like family, friends, or friends who are a lot like family.
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