Atiya & Amna (lifestyle interns) have lived away from home in their own unique situations and since I’ve done the same too, we decided to have a conversational kind of post where all three of us share our respective ‘adulting’ situations and what we learned during that time. If you’ve ever considered being on your own as an option or thinking about doing it for a bit, fingers crossed this post gives you some interesting perspective. Let’s do this?
Disclaimer: All of us apologise in advance for the terrible photos. We did not know better.
When and where was I ‘adulting’? 2013-2015, Columbia, Missouri, USA
What was your living situation? Three months with roomies in a 3-bedroom house, 21 months in a studio apartment.
How old were you? 24 – 26 years
I got a scholarship to go to a country where women live alone and they’re pretty much prepared to live that way. Being by myself, cooking my own food, keeping my space clean taught me one of the most valuable lessons one can learn in their early 20s: How to be comfortable with one’s own solitude. And the lessons I learnt from that experience, now apply to my life even when I have come back to Pakistan and live with my family.
What I learned
1. I am alright with doing things on my own. Because I used to run to the nearby store for milk and eggs, doing the same at home does not phase me.
2. I can handle myself if I’m alone in public. Very recently, I ended up in a park in a Karachi with about 45 minutes to kill. I read a book not at all bothered by the people who were in the park, staring.
|L: As a student of magazine journalism, the magazine and breakfast shot was my aesthetic / R: Further proof of said aesthetic|
4. I learned to be less dependent and needy for others. And that is one of the best things about adulting. I would make an attempt to put on pants and make lunch plans if I had been inside for too long but I wasn’t desperate for companionship. It was always there.
|This place was my life. Lots of alone time spent here (before my friends realized I was the ultimate movie buddy)|
Random, pointless questions
Person who was your lifeline: Miranda Metheny, my first friend from my program. She picked me up from the airport and remained my go-to person for everything.
Usual sleep time: 2 am (I was watching True Detective! Or completing assignments)
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When and where was I ‘adulting’? Lahore from 2011 to 2014
What was your living situation? Hostel living
How old were you? 21- 24 years
1. I loosened up. I used to be shy, introverted and really bad at interacting with people. And a lot of that did not fare well with me when the senior girls at the hostel ragged all the freshmen 24/7. See, in the NCA hostel, you get ragged for the entire year. Not just the first few days, the entire year. This one time some seniors asked us to rehearse the most vulgar swear words that most of us didn’t even know the meaning of. A girl started crying, some protested, but being pulled out of my comfort zone somehow just helped me loosen up (I also learnt to stop being so uptight when I heard someone else swear).
2. I discovered how resilient I was. The hostel conditions were very poor and we had to deal with the water crisis and crazy heat waves without ACs. I remember it was so hot in the summer that my friends and I would take our blankets up on the rooftop and sleep on it under the stars. Around 5 am it became chilly enough for me to roll the blanket on top and continue sleeping for the next two hours till it was time to go to class. There is something so beautiful and memorable about that moment. Nothing can recreate it. I felt so sad about the conditions we lived in, but I also felt gratitude for the resilience within us to solve anything that came our way.
4. There are many stereotypes surrounding a commune where there are all women, be it a school or a hostel. They are all wrong. What I learned in my four years is that here is a sisterhood which is always welcoming and for a short bubble of time it is that feeling we all crave: home. We bunked classes for each other, stayed up all night talking, shopped at weird hours for bug spray and so on. Being woken up by Pitbull blaring in the room next door wasn’t my kind of fun, but getting back by cranking up Avicci was the perfect revenge (then the power died so jokes on me).
5. There is something humbling about living with girls from all areas of Pakistan, ethnicities, class and backgrounds. I learnt how to be confident in my own skin, accept my flaws, own up to my mistakes and get a new perspective on life and situations. I learned to always look at both sides of a conflict, and most importantly mind my own business when a situation had nothing to do with me.
|Back when we didn’t know what a ‘resting bitch face’ was so we actually smiled because we were happy|
Person who was your lifeline: Kanzul Zaidi, my roommate
Go-to food: Bunpluster (egg and shami bun kebab) and tea
Favorite adulting hack: A sandwich toaster. Super fast snacks with ingredients thrown together – no need to cook, easy to clean. Fool proof.
Usual sleep time: 4 am (my friends were addicted to playing cards and would continue till one of us grew a conscience)
When and where was I ‘adulting’? Karachi, through 2005 to 2011
What was your living situation? Multiple apartments, some years with roommates, some years alone
How old were you? 21 – 27 years
1. Being your own SOS call. I believe in depending on people and I’m not the person who thinks that everyone should be alone and do everything by yourself blah blah. But I do believe that one should know with absolute affirmation that they can take care of themselves if there was a need. I truly learnt during my time in Karachi to sort my messes out myself. I had some incredible shit happen to me and it would throw me off, frustrate me, and then I’d remember that I trust myself and I’d handle it. This confidence gets me through everything in life.
|Had a few friends over and N decided to make some magical coffee in the microwave for everyone. One cup at a time, like this.|
Random, pointless questions
Person who was your lifeline: Now-husband, then in the format of close friend/trusted human. And bffs Sumika and Mustafa.
Go-to food: McDonald’s
Favorite adulting hack: If you need anything, just go to Gizri. I don’t know if that still works, but I went there to find everything from an electrician, to a plumber, painter, emergency lock breaker, cheap frames maker, moving guy, everything. I had a problem, I’d just drive to Gizri and ask around.
Usual sleep time: 2 am (terrible, I know)
Atiya and Amna are all about the good life. From books, sci-fi to pop culture and fashion, you can find them always talking and joking over a cup of tea. Find them on Instagram at @atiya107 and @amnaabbas and their blog at @blogthegoodlife. To read more about these girls, check out the meet the interns post.