Lessons of Moving Out of Home at 12

I moved out of home when I was 12 years old.  A delightful lady allowed me to rent one of her living rooms to use as my bedroom.

The learning curve to being a responsible adult was steep and a relentless stream of lessons, some of which I have truly taken for granted.

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Lessons from a young adult

Read labels

Read the labels of your cleaning products – and the labels of everything else you consume while you’re at it.

If you haven’t read the label, you may be using it wrong.  For example, household surface cleaning sprays.  They market as spray, dance around and sing for a bit and then miraculously everything sparkles like a soldier’s boot.

However, when you flip the bottle over it tells a very different tale.  Often surface sprays are supposed to be used, as is largely the case with anti-bacterial sprays, by allowing it to sit, undisturbed, on the surface for 20 minutes before you commence wiping it away and cleaning.

This is entirely not practical because the product is dry and tacky in 20 minutes.  So you end up using a wet cloth to loosen that gunge now coating the under gunge all the while thinking, a wet cloth would have done the trick on its own 20 minutes ago.

Health supplements are often misused.  You might be popping one measly magnesium tablet in the morning.  After prolonged confusion as to why your leg cramps remain completely unaffected you spin the bottle around looking for a best before date.  It must be out of date!  Wait no, I still have 10 good years on this.  So you hoik it into the bin and slag the brand to anyone who will listen and declare all supplements a total sham.

You could do all of that, or, you could flip the bottle around before you buy it and discover that its directions for use are to take 3 tablets 3 times per day.  You realise that this 250 tablet bottle will not even last a month at 9 tables per day and even so, admit to yourself that following the direction is more likely to annoy you then help you.  So you put the bottle down and move on with your life, vastly less irritated and disappointed.

Words on packaging can be misleading, be aware of this.  Also, look for the * next to any comments on the packaging and then search the packaging for the qualifying statement.  In nearly every case, the luring comments are complete crap.  For example, the word ‘lite’ can mean lite in colour, flavour, rainbows, anything at all.

‘Appearance’ is another with health and beauty products.  ‘Improves the appearance of (hair, skin, nails, rainbows)”, this is literally telling you that it does not improve anything at all, just the appearance.  Guaranteed!  If it improves hair, skin nail, rainbow health it would say so on its packaging.  It would say ‘Proven to improve …health”.  It would not be a secret.

“Appearance” means it somehow tricks the eye, for example, making something shiny to deflect light or swollen to make tired eye wrinkles temporarily shallow.  If the word ‘appearance’ is being used, this is a confession that it does not do the very thing the sentence on the packaging is trying to give the impression it does.

If you read labels, you may also discover you know nothing about the product.  For example, do you know what your cereal is?  Those snacks you’ve been stuffing into your face hole?  It may very well not be legitimate food.  Just a mash-up of stuff that will play unpleasant games with your body.

You may also discover something cool like the packaging is recyclable and you’ve mistakenly binned it all this time.

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Clean the toilet

This one goes out to my partner, love you baby xo.

If you have ever read the directions of toilet cleaner you will notice it does not instruct one to stand back like you’re preparing to piss your name into the snow, aim, fire anywhere around the bowl, flush and you’re done, you legend.

No! All you’ve done here is literally, flush a chemical down down the toilet.  Which is a waste of everything.

Unfortunately, the cleaning of the toilet is an up close and personal experience – so grab a brush and get elbow deep my friend.

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Get on with it

Being down and/or out does not excuse you from getting on with it for more than say, a weekend, or the duration of your coma.

If you insist on being down and/or out, fine, indulge ancient Roman style.  But while you’re doing that, get on with it anyway!

Being down and getting on with it are not mutually exclusive.  It is not either you’re down or you get on with it.  There is no conflict in these two states coexisting.

I remember a period of being so down, that I developed a strategy at work where I would set aside time in my lunch break to cry in under a tree in the nearby park.  Loads of fun.

Eventually, I didn’t need to indulge in this self-pity but it sure as hell did not stop me from getting on with it.  I went to work, I ensured that I performed my best each day, I ate my lunch, I exercised, I ate my dinner, I met my friends.  I got on with it.  The sad version of all of that, but all of that none the less.

A lot of people are offended by sadness, probably because it is so contagious.  That is a matter for them.  This does not relinquish your responsibility for yourself.

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A wok doubles as a frying pan

This one is self-explanatory.

However expanding on this, consider what you are buying.  How many hours of your life has the item cost you?  How many hours did you spend at work to make enough money to buy it?  I am certainly not spending a single hour in work in vain.  Spending hours in work to buy a flatter fry pan when I already own a wok because…my pancakes will be flatter that one time I’m bothered to cook them?  A hard pass!

I don’t suffer from OCD, OCD suffers from me!

Don’t own shitty labels.  Be aware of what you create in yourself when you say things like “I am”, “I suffer from”, “I have”.

No matter what, you are always you – the person.  You are not depression, or a phobia, or even a temperament (I am an angry person).  They are all like Apps stored on you, the device.  You can manage the Apps, alter them, change the information, move them around, remove them.  The device never becomes the App.

You are the device here.  All of this other stuff, just Apps.  You own you, the shitty label does not.  In fact, you’re the boss of the shitty label, it needs you, you don’t need it.

Get some shitty label!

Eat fruit and vegetables and stop winging about it

The sooner you start, the sooner it will be a habit.  When you consistently eat fruit and vegetables, your body will form a strong memory of them.  Then when you grow hungry, the fruit and veg is what you will think about and want to eat.

There are too many ideas about what a “healthy” diet is.  However, all theories agree that you should bloody well eat fruit and vegetables.  So take responsibility for yourself, as is your job as an adult, stop winging, and just get on with it.

When I first moved out I discussed how I should eat with a doctor.  I was told, to make it super easy, eat fruit and veg in a range of colours.  Red apple, green spinach, purple aubergines, yellow squash, orange potato, white cauliflower, blueberries, brown kiwi fruit, you get the picture.  This has been close to the best advice I have ever received.

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Perishable’s first

Consume the most perishable items first.  Don’t go grocery shopping, eat all of the frozen and cupboard stuff first then throw away all of your fruit and veg because it’s gone bad.  Eat the fresh fruit, veg, eggs, milk, etc first.  The stuff in the freezer and cupboard can wait.

I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t mix them, I’m simply saying, make sure that you are eating what will perish earlier, first, before it perishes.

Save your money, why buy something only to throw it away, completely unused.  Effectively you plan this when you skip the fresh stuff and head for the long life stuff.  Plus, not being wasteful is also a part of being a responsible member of …earth really.

Make your bed

It becomes a habit, I promise.  You’ll be making your bed without even realising it.

Making your bed makes your entire room look much cleaner.  It also ties into a cleaner feel of your house.

Making my bed makes me feel more refreshed when I get home from work and more rewarding when I crawl into it at night.

It also impacts on the pride I take in myself and my home.  Not sure how just does.

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Don’t cry poor and damage

Unless you want to repel everything good in life.  You may be poor and/or damaged, doesn’t mean you have to make a public announcement.  Now I’m not suggesting you ought to mislead people here.

Watch catch me if you can.  Not for its hot tips on how to commit old school fraud, but for its perfect demonstration of how demanding people see the worst about you is not a prelude to better treatment.

If you point and describing in detail to a person/the world, how poor and/or damaged you are, you are demanding they see this in you.  Instead, focus on what is best about you and this will draw other’s attention to these better things.

Don’t start telling people stories about how you’re an alfa or how beautiful your balayage is.  Honestly, people want to figure this out for themselves.  So let them.  Stop blocking their view by insisting they, instead, focus on all that’s shite about you.

Conversely, when people are good to you or the world around them, do good by you, give you good service, help you, resolve your issues, support you, defend you, protect you or love you – let them know you see this.  Ensure they know you appreciate it!


Don’t know how to organise your money? Learn!  Don’t know how to exercise?  Learn!  Don’t know how to do laundry?  Learn!

There is no shame in not knowing.  There is shame in pretending to be a victim of your ignorance and doing nothing about it.

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Other lessons

  • Owning your own home, share portfolio or a wad of savings is way cooler than owning fancy stuff
  • A part of your job as an adult is to be your own mum and dad, so get on with it.  The originals owe you nothing once you’re an adult.  Accept this and step up
  • Find ways to win and stop searching for reasons to lose
  • Price is not an accurate indication of quality.  It is an indication of how much other people are prepared to pay for it
  • Being a pessimist is not clever.  It is, however, a certain way to increase the occurrence of unpleasant experiences for yourself and whoever must tolerate you
  • A hot water bottle is cheaper and easier than trying to heat your entire room or residence.  As is a jumper
  • Vacuums suck.  They have just one job.  If yours doesn’t, stop wasting yourself on the pile of crap and buy one that does
  • Assume well of people.  It’s more pleasant for you and makes it easier for them to rise to the occasion
  • The way you receive what is being said is just as powerful as what the other person is saying and how.  The next time someone offends you, chose not to be offended and assign a different meaning, humour/affection/ignorance etc.  You’ll see
  • Listen with the intention of understanding and appreciating.  Listening does not describe the process of waiting for your turn to speak.  People will be very surprised when you remember what was discussed the next time you catch up



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