Updated: Jun 19, 2021

From childhood till now, I have always been a person who loved being independent, whether it was regarding schoolwork, relationships, tuition classes, college admissions, university admissions, internships, courses, or jobs. I preferred not to ask for guidance from any person in my family, relatives, friends, or classmates to ensure no influence on my decisions. That did not mean that I was not open to suggestions. I was completely open to suggestions and opinions but I made sure that if the suggestion/opinion sounds good but doesn’t match with my personal values or ideologies, I would try my best to not be influenced by it.

I may sound like a “rebel” to some individuals but that’s majorly because of how the recent generation has been seen in a negative light when they emphasize independence, personal space, and self-reliance.

I recently came back to Mumbai after completing my under-graduation from Bangalore. There, I spent 3 years with the same roommate at the same hostel since we had developed a very strong bond with each other as well as with our hostel room. During the third year, I started disliking the idea of living in a hostel, being bound by curfews and restricted from having outsiders visit the hostel room. The best alternative to this seemed to be a friend’s house where I started staying very often. I preferred to stay at their flat than at my hostel solely because I could do whatever I wanted without having a warden scream at me for not doing something or for doing something in the wrong way.

Even before the lockdown was implemented, I decided not to go back to Mumbai.

Why so? Because I didn’t want to live a comfortable, lavish life at home with a family that would take care of my needs and wants. I wanted to go through the struggle of living alone, cooking daily, getting groceries, living on a budget, and looking after my own mental and physical health. When I informed my parents about this preference, I initially received a lot of resistance; however, slowly, they began understanding where I was coming from. Gradually, they began worrying a little less about me and how I would live with a few friends in a flat.

From early March to June 12th, I stayed in the flat with my friends. I would be lying if I said that it was an extremely easy three months. There was a lot of initial struggle, especially when we were informed that all grocery stores would remain closed for a few weeks. Gradually, we understood how to live within a budget, how to divide the food among the five of us, how to respect each other’s spaces, how to cook (I never cooked until the lockdown), and how to build ourselves a home away from home. Mentally as well, the first month was quite overwhelming. My daily routine witnessed a huge change from waking up early in the morning for college, to sleeping only by 5 AM and then waking up at 2 PM; I had a hard time adjusting to the idea of being under “house arrest”. I had also stopped engaging in any self-care during that period of time since I was in quite a negative phase of my life.

With a lot of motivation from my mother, boyfriend, friends, and some online courses on enhancing well-being, I made up my mind to engage in a better lifestyle for myself. I forced myself to sleep by 12:30 AM and wake up by 8 AM. Pushed myself up from the bed and went for a morning walk with protective gear. I started making these daily routine activities compulsory for myself in order to ensure that I have a stable mental and physical space. Gradually, I started appreciating myself and my routine. However, the news of going back home to Mumbai on June 12th brought with it a lot of anxiety and stress. All the efforts that I had put into making myself more emotionally stable, physically sound, and independent, were going to be washed off by the “comforts” of my house.

I informed my parents that I would like to move out to live alone in a studio apartment 5 minutes away from where my parents lived. “Log kya kahenge ki beti alag se reh rahi hai jabki parents ka ghar Mumbai mein hee hai? Society waale poochenge ki beti ko alag kyu rehne de rahe ho. Poora life yehi sab toh karna hai toh abhi se hee akele kyu rehna hai? Jab duniya ke saare comforts ghar pe mil rahe hai toh apna comfort zone kyu chodhna hai?” (Translation: “What will people say when they come to know that our daughter is staying separately when her parents are in Mumbai itself? The society will ask why we’re allowing our daughter to stay separately. You are going to be doing this all throughout your life, why do you want to stay alone from now itself? When you’re getting all of the world’s comforts at home, then why do you want to leave your comfort zone?”) were some of the things one of my parents told me. Even though one of them was completely supportive of my decision, the other one felt that going outside your comfort zone was a bad thing.

Somehow, after a lot of requests, assertiveness, and some fights, they agreed.

It has been two months since I moved into my new “home”.

I started from scratch again because all the effort I had put into making my schedule proper went down the drain during the 2 months of living at home. I am currently struggling to wake up before 10 AM and making food for myself takes a lot of time and energy. Moreover, after a long day at work and doing household chores, I have barely any energy left to talk to my friends or my family members. As people usually say, everything takes time – I am willing to give myself the time to adjust to this new lifestyle as well. It will take time but I will persevere to ensure that I give myself the space to grow, to be outside my comfort zone, and finally, be a better version of myself.

Moving out is a concept majorly propagated by the Western world. In the Eastern world, such things aren’t looked at with a lot of respect or acceptance. Instead, it’s considered to be a disrespect to the collectivistic culture and to the elders who have spent “their entire life working for their children”. I am, certainly, not a rebel. I am just a normal girl who strongly emphasizes on being self-made and on living life for oneself rather than living it on the terms and conditions laid down by others. I, in no way, mean to be disrespectful to our culture, the society, my family members, or anyone else. At the same time, I, in no way, mean to disrespect my own physical and mental space by conforming to the standards set for me by our culture, the society, my family members, or anyone else.

Every life is different and everyone lives by different values, principles, and standards. I hope that people will gradually understand where I am coming from and the importance of me doing things for myself. I hope “Log kya kahenge?” (What will people say?) is eradicated from our society at the earliest to ensure that people live a life that they really wish to.

Written by – Virachi Chaudhary

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