By Helena Wagner
What do you say to a 19-year-old student moving out? Maybe: “Please watch your candles while they burn! You don’t want to set the house on fire in the first week you’re living there.”
Well, this question should not be too hard to answer.
But what do you say to a 19-year-old student moving out during a pandemic, when the world she knew basically does not exist anymore and her plan after school turned out to be a lot more different than expected, her mother waving her good-bye with a package full of face masks in her hand? In the process of becoming an adult, moving out during a pandemic sculpted me from a teen into a hard-working individual who learned to stand on her own feet, teaching me more about the person I want to become – a responsible, independent woman.
The decision to move far away from your hometown, where you spend most of your life with your family and friends, is already a bold one at this age. You are going to leave the life you knew behind and start a completely new chapter after school, as a student in a completely new city. But the circumstances in the year 2020 are making the process of moving and finding new surroundings a lot harder. Finding a job in a new city is much more difficult than before because many companies do not look for new employees since the economy is decreasing due to corona restrictions. If you want to find a job, you either need to be lucky or really convincing about your qualities. But once you have a job, the risk of losing it due to a second or third lockdown is high, especially in the service sector where lots of students are working in addition to their studies. You really need to have a plan in hand for paying your bills and rent, especially if your parents cannot give you any financial support. That takes a lot of self-organisation and responsibility as well as self-esteem and courage.
But the coronavirus is not just controlling our work life, it is also present in our social life. As a young person in a new city, you usually do not know a lot of people. You learn about the city by discovering it with other students and maybe go to parties to connect, so finding new friends is not that hard. Seeing the new city as your new home is not difficult if you have people that you can spend your time with. But during a pandemic there are no parties and lots of fun things that you can do with new acquaintances are unavailable. Also, the people are social distancing to stay healthy and prevent the virus from spreading, so meeting people is not easy at all. That leads to a lot of time spent alone, not having your friends and family near to meet up and talk in person. Feeling lonely and lost in the new city is the result.
Missing friends and family and questioning the decision of moving is completely normal in such a situation. There is so much time to think about moving back and feeling nostalgic about the time in school where your life was organised and had a structure, that the urge to give in to this feeling is strong. But that is what makes this new episode in life so special. You now have full control and responsibility for your actions and your way of living. The new circumstances can be overwhelming at first. Overcoming this dark place in the mind is a strengthening experience, because once you have done so, you know you can manage many problems alone, and you know yourself and the way your mind works better. You grow as a person and slowly get used to adulthood.
Moving out from home is a crucial element in growing up and learning to stand on your own feet but doing so in a pandemic forces you to really spend time with yourself since you cannot escape the situation. Because of the amount of time you spend alone you will be struggling to find a way that makes this new episode in life fun. Even if this personal development is uncomfortable at first, it is in fact the same as it says: Diamonds are built under a lot of pressure. As you are forced to survive this episode in life, there will always be a better time where you can shine with the qualities you developed.