A little while ago, my friend approached me and asked me if I wanted to share a house with him and his partner, and after a little bit of thought I agreed to this. It’s always been my ambition to get a job and then move out of home as soon as financially viable, and having gotten said job I figured it was time to leave the nest. Initially I wanted to live on my own so that I could spread out, see what sort of person I was, what routines I formed, what sort of habits I started, what housework I struggled with and so forth. But I realised that living with housemates is even better for helping me see what sort of person I am; it has all those same challenges (except perhaps I have less control over what sort of furniture I use) but with the extra benefit of learning to live with other people and accept their ways of being. Not that living with I and B is difficult mind you, quite the opposite. I get along uproariously well with both of them, and I love them both dearly.
I’ve never spent much time at home, to be honest. Before I moved out, I often felt guilty that I wasn’t spending any time with my Mum apart from a few minutes in the morning before I left for work and an hour or two before I left for training. My schedule, on top of full-time work, included three nights of training a week, and spending Frinight-Sunnight at Bethwyn’s house. In practice, this meant I would only really get Tuesevenings at home, which I would spend catching up on emails and organising things and maybe gaming for an hour or two per week. In a way, I guess this gave Mum a chance to slowly come to terms with the idea of me moving out and spending even less time at home. This has always been my schedule, and with the importance I’ve placed on sleep, I’ve struggled to fit in enough time to pursue my other interests (like blogging, which I’m demonstrating right now). In truth, I barely spend any time at home because training is so important to me. And that little time I do have is desperately valuable.
I am finding it, then, quite an adjustment to living with two friends. I’m not sure if you can relate, but I find it very hard to focus on anything else when I am with people. When I am out with a friend, I stop checking my phone until I’m alone. I find it hard to read a book with a conversation going on nearby (not that I do much reading), and I feel rude walking away from conversations so that I can, say, make my bed and get ready for work in the morning. (By the by, what a bed I have: a Japanese futon!). My carefully balanced time-management has started falling to pieces and I’m finding it very difficult to get ready for work or go to bed at a reasonable hour because my housemates have invited me to watch a movie or spend time with them. And I love them, and I want to cherish the time I spend with them, but I can’t help but be slightly annoyed that the two hours of gaming time I might have between 8:30 and 10:30 is more likely to be an hour because I get caught chatting while I’m doing the dishes, or whatever.
Clearly I have control issues. But with time as precious as it is, I can’t help but feel frustrated that I don’t seem to be able to use it to do many things. I think, living alone, my need for control would spiral out to ridiculous proportions and I would probably start micromanaging my time into 15 minute blocks again, and so it’s good to have my housemates challenge me in this way. I just need to accept it more, to be okay with doing less if it means spending time with my loved ones. Or if I am not enjoying spending time with my loved ones, to have the strength to establish boundaries and say “I love talking to you, and please don’t think me rude, but I would like to sleep soon.” (I would like to especially avoid cutting someone off mid-sentence to stand up and leave the room, but I find it so hard to be assertive and tell them that I’d like to go before it reaches boiling point and I’m late for work, or whatever.)
It’s also taken me a little while to see the house as somewhere restful and restorative. As I may have alluded to already, being around people takes energy and time and attention for me. I can find it exhausting, and I am most restored in my own company (or perhaps with Beth if we’re doing something gentle together). I have found it difficult to create my islands of peace and restoration in the new house without feeling rude and closing my bedroom door. Not that my room has much by way of entertainment – the most enjoyable and restorative thing I do is gaming, and without the internet at my house, this means console gaming. Given that we only have one TV, I find it awkward sharing it; when I’m using it and my housemates come in to watch me play, I feel like perhaps I’m selfishly hogging the set. And when they are using it, I can’t bring myself to ask them to stop so that I can play. Solution? Two TV’s so we can both use them. But I still feel kind of bad about it. (I should probably just talk to them and negotiate TV time like an adult, rather than offloading onto my blog.) Ultimately, I feel a little pressured not to use the TV unless no one’s home and it leaves me with very few ways to do my own thing in my own space. I wonder if it is rude to just close the door to my room when I don’t feel like talking to people. I think it kind of is.
How about you guys? Have you found it easy to live with people? Have you encountered similar issues to me? I’m sure I’m not the first person to struggle with these adaptations.
All my love,