I’m the oldest of several kids. Zee and I moved out at pretty much exactly the same time, then I moved back in, then I got married and moved back out. Since then (several years), us children have pretty much maintained our respective living conditions.
All this is gearing up to change, however. Cay is several years out of high school, while both Prose and Hawk only have a few short years before they skedaddle off to college somewhere. Perhaps they will live at home during school (like me)… or perhaps not.
Anyways, many of us humans spend some slash a lot of time living with other people, usually friends (or family friends) before we strike out on our own. And my mother, being the font of good knowledge that she is, recently emailed us all a “how-to” list for being a houseguest. Then Zee added a whole new section of goodness.
This got me thinking about my own list, which I would download into the heads of my three younger siblings and anyone else who is gearing up to fly out of the nest. I’ve appropriated a lot of Mom’s and Zee’s lists. Feel free to browse, and add your own.
Roomie/House Guest Goodwill Guide:
(aka: How to Move Out of Your Parent’s House) (aka: Disillusionment 101)
- It is always your fault. This is golden rule of everywhere, for your entire life. Most of us don’t realize it (because we don’t have to) until we leave the nest. Whatever is happening in your life that you don’t like, it is ultimately your “fault.” Don’t waste time blaming others or wishing things had gone differently. Don’t fight with your roommates about it. It’s not their fault that your crap got ruined during that wild party they threw last night. It’s your fault for continuing to live with dumb roommates who throw parties and invite destructive people over. (See? It really is your fault.) Deal with it, get over it, make it better.
- You always have a choice. ALWAYS. Other people’s actions are not your responsibility: yours are. No one makes you do things. When you say, “I don’t have a choice!” what you mean is, “I don’t have a choice I LIKE,” which is different. It might feel really terrible to eat only toast for a week, or move out suddenly, but no one is making you spend your food budget on a Fendi bag. No one is forcing you to work a measly 22 hours a week. Get another job. Get three. Shop at Goodwill. Check the grocery store bargain section. Go to bed early. Take short showers. Use generic toothpaste/tp/soap/shampoo. Etc, etc, and so forth. Know what the cure to tired and overworked is? It’s not quitting your job or moving back in with Mom and Dad. It’s called coffee.
- Assume that at some point, your housemates will hate your guts. Take steps to prevent that. Clean things on a regular basis. Not just your own space, but the shared space, too. Get the frick OUT of the place consistently. Give everyone some breathing room. (If you feel this isn’t fair because they’re not reciprocating, refer back to #1. In fact, do that for all of these.) Do not assume that because they like you and/or you are likable that this will always be the case.
- Get other friends. (aka: Get a life.) Adult roommates who are also friends, confidants, sources of income when yours is a little low, and whom you can complain at with impunity are called spouses. Marriage (or pseudo-marriage, ie: “relations”) is the only way this kind of living arrangement works long term. Unless you are already married to your roommate(s), plan on going elsewhere and depending on other people for all that stuff. (Side-note: becoming romantically involved with roommates is baaad mojo. It will not work out well for you. Mark my words.)
- Drugs are bad. I’m not going to even attempt to be clever with this one. Drugs are detrimental to your survival (alcohol is included in this, during your first few years of living on your own). People who do/deal/encourage them are harmful, and quickly become dangerous. You lose money, you lose opportunities, you lose control. And the bad effects of drugs continue to pay back with compound interest for many, many years after you stop.
- Be frugal; not stingy. Go without but don’t expect others to, and don’t be the jerk who can’t share. You’re a grown up, living with other grown ups. Pay for groceries. Never go out to eat, go to the movies, or go to bars without planning at least two weeks in advance. (Get over it. Planning is something adults do.) Oh, and NO ONE CARES why you couldn’t make rent. If you are going to feel really offended or upset about this, never let it happen to you. I mean never. I don’t care if France invades Florida. Pay up or get out.
- Be a koala. Sloths are the most boring, useless creatures on the face of the planet. Think of a koala and then think of a sloth. You know what the basic difference is between the two? A koala often appears to be productive. It chews on things. It climbs around. Sometimes it hugs. Don’t spend three hours on Facebook in front of your roommate while they are immersed in their Chem III homework. Don’t watch TV as they are filing in from a ten hour work day. Make dinner, sweep something, go for a walk. Hug them.
- Wait to fight. If you feel wronged or impinged upon or mistreated in any way, take three days to cool off before you address it. “Talking” (as in, “we need to talk”) counts as confrontation; therefore, save it for day four. Before you get into it (if you’ve already considered #1 carefully and decided it’s still worth fighting over… you dummy) write down what’s going on, where you are coming from, and what needs to change. Have a clear head.
- No pets. This includes fish and reptiles.
- Go to Church. You don’t stop needing a form of encouragement and accountability just because you aren’t living with Mom and Dad anymore. It’s peaceful, it’s useful, it’s only a few hours a week (one, if you’re lucky enough to be Catholic) and churches are everywhere. You will ALWAYS leave in a better state than you arrived in.
There’s lots more, but these are good starters. Absorb them, memorize them, add your own.
She’ll be okay, Mom.