Originally published on CUIndependent.com on Dec. 6 2014
I was decently spoiled growing up. There are a lot of things I didn’t have to worry about — things I barely realized needed worrying. Going away from home didn’t scare me, mostly because I didn’t anticipate the true responsibilities that came with such freedom. When I packed up my bubble into six overweight suitcases, all of this changed.
I live in a house with three other girls. We all have our own rooms — which is a blessing and a half — but the rest of the space is shared. This means keeping that space sanitary and awesome is a shared effort. We all take turns with the Lysol wipes in and around the kitchen and flip-flop taking out the trash (a real challenge when you just don’t feel like it or when it’s four degrees). Cleaning the bathroom is wonderful. It basically entails Lysolling all over the place and then spraying this blue stuff into the actual toilet itself, and scrubbing with this white fluffy scrubber thing.
At home in California, I share a bathroom with my two younger sisters. We have a rule of replacing the toilet paper when you’re the one to finish it. In addition, if there is just a square or two left, you have to take out a fresh role and put it on top of the toilet so that the next person can replace it with ease when they take their turn on the throne. This is pretty simple business, because the three of us can expect to open the compartment under the sink to find endless roles of toilet paper — always.
Living on my own is a game changer. “Always” goes out the window and back to California. I thought being eighteen meant independence, but as it turns out, the little freedoms I experienced at home are incomparable to responsibilities like cooking each meal, taking out the trash, paying bills, managing a job as well as keeping up grades, and really taking care of myself.
In my experience so far, here is what I can offer you:
- Take initiative
Someone has to wipe the counter and someone has to take out the trash. Sometimes this person will have to be you. Take the initiative and do these things upon noticing them. Turn these chores into the positive contributions of cleanliness. Do your part.
- Be a friend
It is easy to reduce the people you live with to mere roommates. Lend them more credit! They don’t have to be your best friends, but the little effort of asking about their day will help build some sort of relationship and create a more positive living environment.
- Express your needs
Learning to live with others is just as important as others understanding how to live with you. The best way for you to contribute to this is to express yourself and your needs. No one knows that you need to listen to death metal in order to sleep soundly, unless you make it known. Communication is key.
- Change the toilet paper
While working together makes for a better life, taking care of your own matters is crucial. You cannot expect money in your pocket if you don’t learn how to save, the same way you won’t have clean underwear if you don’t do laundry. You cannot expect a fresh roll of toilet paper — you have to put it there yourself. And also, everyone poops.
So as I said, I was decently spoiled growing up. But every day I continue to learn how to take responsibility for myself. I don’t dwell on the chores I have to complete, but rather the satisfaction I have earned from taking care of the things around me. Put everything in retrospect and realize the ways to enhance your life. Like many others, so much of what I looked forward to in college did not include this list of chores. But it’s this list that has made me grow over the last year and a half.