Adulthood is when you learn to make lemonade out of all those lemons life has thrown at you, because you know life will continue throwing them at you. It’s when you become independently dependable. But if you don’t know how to make life’s lemonade, and aren’t sure how to stand on your own two feet, there’s no time like the present to start!
It’s understandable to be afraid, nervous, anxious, excited, and whatever other emotions you might feel while slowly going out into the world, knowing that you will no longer be depending on anyone but yourself, and that you’re officially becoming an independent woman.
It’s much easier to make decisions when you have someone beside you advising you and letting you know if you’re making the right choices. But sooner or later, your training wheels come off, and you no longer have your sidekick to cheer you on 24/7, which opens the door to your life, and you finally start living life for yourself, all by yourself.
Imagine if you never took the training wheels off your bike when you were little, never experiencing the freedom of riding your bike down the driveway without them. You probably didn’t think you were ready then either, but you actually were!
What you need to do to be more independent
You may not feel ready for this jump, but you’ll never feel completely ready for anything, no matter how hard you try to prepare. So jump in headfirst, and open the doors to your life that you’ve hidden behind for so long. I promise you’ll learn how to spread your wings and fly faster than you ever learned to ride a bike.
#1 Learn basic auto repair and maintenance. Cars are a lot of fun, but what isn’t fun is when you have car trouble. If you’ve ever found yourself having to deal with an unfortunate situation such as a flat tire, dealing with checking oil levels, transmission fluids, or having you car battery die, then you know how annoying and frustrating it is having to wait for roadside service to show up and help you out.
Instead of having to wait for your tow truck to show up next time, be your own roadside service and learn the basics like how to change a flat tire, how to check your oil level, and how to jumpstart your car, should your battery die. It may seem daunting at first, but this is a challenge you are more than capable of.
#2 Pay off your loans/debt. If you look at paying off your loans and debts as a game, instead of a nightmare, you might actually enjoy the challenge of becoming more independent, free from the money shackles that have bound you.
Start with small goals, maybe pick up an extra job if you have to, and figure out a certain amount of money you want to set aside from each paycheck. Slowly but surely, the little dollars you’ve set aside will turn into larger amounts, and before you know it, the shackles will come off and you’ll be free from your debts. You will also feel freedom and satisfaction in a much greater way than you probably ever have.
#3 Be happy being alone. It’s great to spend much of your time with friends and family, but it’s important to know you also need to spend time with yourself. When you have some time alone, it helps you grow into the person you have yet to become, getting lost in your own thoughts and daydreams, learning about yourself from within.
If you aren’t happy hanging out with yourself, you’ll never really be happy hanging out with anyone. Love starts from within. Learn to be in love with yourself, independently. Stop depending on others to make you feel loved and accepted. At the end of the day, all you’ve really got is yourself, and as you get older, your circle of friends will slowly get smaller and smaller. Learn to lean on your own left shoulder when your right gives out. [Read: 11 tips to fall in love with yourself and be a better you]
#4 Save up for something. If you ever received money from your parents for chores when you were younger, it’s safe to say you probably saved up that money for something you really wanted. You set a goal for yourself, even at a young age, because you wanted to use your hard-earned money to buy something you really want.
When you get older, it’s no different, really. If you want a new car, or just a car in general, set a goal for yourself and figure out how you can purchase the car you want all by yourself. Come up with your own game plan and follow through with it.
It might not be a goal reached overnight, or even one completed in a year, but it will be completed. Just remember you’re not in a race with anyone but yourself, and you set your own pace. Once you’ve reached your goal, you’ll forget all about the time when you didn’t believe you could make it happen, and instead you’ll think about all the amazing things you did to make it happen. Bravo! [Read: How to stop being jealous of others’ success]
#5 Live alone. When you have roommates, you can rely on them to pick up the paper towels you forgot to grab on your way home from work, or to watch your dog for you when you go out of town for the weekend.
When you live by yourself, you don’t have roommates easily accessible to pick up after you. You learn to be organized, and you learn about your personality and how you actually are as a roommate. You learn that you enjoy living in a clean place much more than living with the stack of pizza boxes you’ve accumulated.
#6 Learn how to cook. Independence means learning to feed yourself and cook meals that actually do your body good, and if you take the time to cook, it also shows that you’ve started caring about what you are putting into your body. You start caring more about your health in the long-term.
Once you start giving up take-out and delivery orders, you’ll start appreciating cooking. The food you’ve spent time preparing will taste even more delicious, because you are proud to say you made it. Cooking is a skill you will use for your entire life, and when you start making things you love, you’ll enjoy every bite a little more every time.
#7 Let go of negative people. Once you start to not care if everyone likes you, or how many friends you have, and you start caring more about yourself, you’ll realize why being independent is such a great thing.
It’s great to have friends to talk to and hang out with, but it’s even better once you’re more than okay to let go of the negative so-called friends you’ve allowed to linger around you for far too long. Gain control of yourself, and live the life you’ve always wanted to, with those around you who only lift you up, not bring you down. [Read: 10 toxic friends you need to avoid]
#8 Figure out the answers to your own questions. Instead of immediately asking someone a question, hoping to get a quick answer, start taking the time to figure it out on your own. Most of the time, the answer you seek is usually right in front of you.
If you don’t know something, see if you can figure out a way to get the answers to all the unknowns you have. Do some research. Consult Google. You’ll be surprised at how much more you’ll learn when you take the time to seek out answers for yourself.
#9 Read more. You are never too young or old to expand your knowledge and vocabulary skills. Reading keeps your brain functioning and thinking, and it’s also very relaxing for the mind, body and soul. The next time you find yourself just laying around, bored, trying to think of something to do, pick up a book, and take off on an adventure.
Reading takes you on a journey that no one else around you is on. It’s almost like a secret hideaway. You can be surrounded by tons of people, but not even know it, because you’re having such a great adventure all on your own. Getting lost in a great book is the greatest journey you can take all by yourself, without having to actually go anywhere.
#10 Get cultured. If you have been sheltered for most of your entire life, it’s time to get out there. The world is an extraordinary place filled with so much to see and people to meet. If you have never traveled out of the country, or even out of your state, you need to remember that where you are is but one chapter of the life you live.
Whatever you do, make sure you go out and see the world, or at least however much you can, even if you don’t think it’s much at all. You don’t want to look back on your life when you’re 80 and regret never taking that road-trip, or booking that one-way ticket. A great way to decide where to go first is by your favorite cuisine. Food fuels the mind, body and soul. Whatever you do and wherever you go, stay hungry and thirsty, even when you think you’re full.
#11 Stop relying on a man to take care of you. So many women are okay with just being stay-at-home moms, living the life of junior league and afternoon play-dates. But if you depend on your husband as the only provider of income for your family, think about what all would happen if he lost his job, or if he no longer wanted to be with you.
A man can put you up just as easily as he can put you down, so it’s important to be able to put yourself up, and take care of yourself. It’s great if you and your man are equals, but if you depend too heavily on him, it could end up backfiring in the long run. If a man wants to provide for you and you want that, that’s wonderful. Make sure you can provide and take care of yourself first and foremost, before letting him do that job.
Being independent doesn’t mean you’re all alone in the world, but it does mean you’re in the world with millions of other people as you make your own decisions for yourself and navigate through life without relying on others to make your life decisions for you. [Read: 13 signs of a clingy girlfriend]
Finding independence is not always going to be easy, but it’s not always going to be hard either. You’ll look back much sooner than later, wondering why you allowed yourself to sit on the sidelines for so long, letting others call all the shots during the game of your own life.
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