Moving on out can be met with total joy. At the end of my degree, with a job lined up, I knew that I would be able to stay in my city and avoid the dreaded ‘move back in’ with the parents. I had a summer lease to look forward to, an en suite bathroom and an actual garden in my new property. For £295 a month.
I took a week’s leave to go to Glastonbury festival, and wrapped the move-out and move-in around my time off. Carting all my belongings from South Wales to the South West and back again was a bit of a faff but allowed me at least to shove half of my belongings back into storage at my parent’s house. On the day I was due to collect the keys my landlords met me at the door and explained all the boring utilities and checked if I had everything I needed before leaving me to it. Then once they left, that was it.
The thing that people don’t tell you about making the transition from university to the world of work is that it can be an incredibly lonely and isolating experience. Most of my friends are students and spent the summer working shifts in West Country pubs, or sunning it up on course trips to Malta or Jordan. Meanwhile I had three months to face without friends, family, or flatmates.
As an independent person, I managed the first few weeks with grace. The spell of good weather meant that I could spend time in the parks and at the waterfront, and my long walks around the lakes were a welcome distraction. At work however, I largely flew under the radar with my small but busy team, and so could sometimes spend a week without any meaningful social interaction. I don’t own a car, and during this time my family were away anyway, so I spent July 2016 to September 2016 without more than one or two events scribbled into my social calendar. Beside those, I was totally alone.
The problem with leaving home and ‘meeting new people’ is that it can feel hard to function properly when your loneliness is bordering on being physically painful. It is a taboo topic, but one that we do need to think about tackling. All through our lives we tend to form friendships based on those we are surrounded by, but if no-one is next to you-how do you reach out?
My friends and acquaintances all returned when autumn came, and it felt great to have my social life fall back into place. This year, when some of them leave, I am determined to work hard to keep my life together. Dance and exercise classes are a great way to meet a cross-section of people without the awkwardness of reaching out to strangers. I also plan to start attending gigs and events in my area with more frequency. Another thing I have considered is getting a part-time weekend job to supplement my income and work somewhere more sociable-as I do miss the interaction required in all my old retail haunts.
The final thing I have been doing is looking for new housemates for the next calendar year. I recently messaged a girl who was house-hunting on Facebook, out of the blue, and the next week I was having dinner with two strangers to see if we would be a good house-hunting trio. Fingers-crossed everything will fall into place and I will move with ease into a new locale with two lovely people-and kick loneliness back in the bin where it belongs.