Balancing Independence and Family
By Joanna, age 20, South Wales, United Kingdom
This summer, I moved out from my parents' home and into a rented house with three other girls from university. At first, I was terrified. I didn't know these girls particularly well as I'd only responded to a poster I'd seen up in the uni one day. We'd met up a few times, seemed to get along, so we decided to all move in together.
It takes some getting used to, living with people that you're not totally familiar with, but so far things have been great, and I have to admit that my worries were, for the most part, in vain. I've had to accept a few differences between me and my housemates. For example, one of the girls is a strictly R&B music fan, whereas I prefer to listen to alternative music, but the most important thing is getting along, and despite differences in opinion, we are all becoming good friends.
The hardest thing, I have found, is learning how to balance my own need for independence with my loving mother's need to nurture me. Don't get me wrong, I love my mum to bits and I wouldn't change her for the world, but do you ever get the feeling that your mum can be a little over-concerned about you? That's what mine is like. She calls me every few days to check that I'm okay, which was sweet at first, but with the ever-increasing workload from uni is becoming a slight annoyance. She expects to be informed of every decision I make and my every visit to somewhere new. On the one hand, I can see that she wants to be able to help and guide me, but on the other hand, I personally feel that I need to be able to make my own decisions and my own mistakes.
So how do I deal with becoming my own totally independent person and not offending my overly caring mum? For me, I think it's been a slow process, but I find that making decisions and informing her of them afterwards seems to be a step in the right direction. You don't have to exclude your family from your own life, but they don't have to be part of every aspect of it either, and I think it can be a challenging thing to juggle. At the end of it all, my mum is always going to be my mum and is always going to care, but she has to step back and let me become the person I am going to become, even if that means sometimes doing things that she doesn't agree with or like. The key, in my opinion, is to never under-appreciate the things your mum does or tries to do for you, and to let her know you value her and make her feel loved, but hold on to the independence you have gained at the same time.