Of leaving home and other healthy choices

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Sixteen is a good age I believe. To leave home. Not, most certainly, by force or necessity. But it is a lovely age to transition into the world. A lovely age that will allow resilience in ugly situations. Not too young and not at that age when teenagers are itching to run and forget their beginnings.

Ofcourse, I left home at exactly that age. While I lived with relatives for two years, my home, as I knew it, was going to undergo a transformation.

The biggest change happened internally, when I found not one person who could understand my weaknesses. Truly, why should they? I found myself floundering and completely unable to accept the anonymity. The family I stayed with were good to me. But, the sense of belonging had vanished. With it, my sense of self.

There was no one to sense my fright, my nervousness, my dislikes, or 'my' anything. It was a freezing splash into reality. In retrospect, I am glad that I was so young. While there were fixed ideas about many things, I was also angry enough to fight back. I remember moving from a sedate, organized environment into utter chaos. An environment where nothing could be taken for granted. Not the weather, not utilities and suddenly, not even myself.

pic credit - Sura Nualpradid; freedigitalphotos.net
I remember barely being able to comprehend what people said. Couldn't get used to the urgent efficiency of a big city. I'd always gone shopping with mom. Now, I didn't know where to go and wore the same torn shoes for months. It was when a bunch of students stared at my shoes in shock that I worked up the courage to ask for help; to buy shoes, yes.

It is not good to live a sheltered existence and yearn for adventure at the same time. I remember being unable to get on a train. Now, where I had moved, the trains are not carefully watched or guarded. They stop for barely a minute in which time, a gazillion people and their kids, baskets, bicycles and bags have to get in. I remember holding on to the railing tenaciously, determined to make it. The train began to move, slowly at first. I kept pace with it, running along the platform, imagining that I could do a jump. But suddenly it picked up speed , slicing a deep gash through my knee, leaving me sprawled on the platform, dazed and embarrassed.

I felt alone and apart there too. So I had to wonder. Had it been home? Was it the city? Was it the people I lived with? It couldn't be everyone else all the time. It had to be me.

Many positives became apparent only after a decade of being away from home. I realized that for one, my family was phenomenal. I just didn't know it. I realized that it took my parents a lot of strength to let go of a daughter. I had been utterly frustrated at home, when I made the momentous decision to leave. While I was in  the new place, I wondered, desperately, what I had been thinking. But now, it's obvious that it was truly not my family's responsibility to shoulder every kind of identity crisis that I weathered in my teens. The tantrums, the demands, the rudeness - families bear them all. But after a point, all conflicts point to only one solution. That is to go out and be a part of a world that teaches us about ourselves. Because in the end, that's what we are - individuals. Every family is as strong or as weak as each of it's members. If we're strong, 'sorted out' individuals, we have families that are the same. Not immune to flaws, just able to weather more with ease.

I had once declared being 'different' from my family. It became apparent later that they had influenced everything about me. It could be a formidable dislike of double-dipping utensils at meal times, always giving a small percentage of the monthly income to a charitable trust, a love of conversation over tea, or just the way we wave our hands when we talk. I adopted the only way that I had ever known. And inspite of exposure to other ways, accepting other roads of existence, my own way that came from strong, sometimes exasperating people, was part of my identity.

I left, trying to find myself. Wanting desperately to break free of the only environment that I had ever had. A loving, nurturing one. It was an excellent reference point for how things should be. It was an excellent source of contrast to many moments in my later life.

But, I had to leave first! Discussions with many others over the years stressed the same thought. It has very little to do with finances and a great deal to do with being effective in your own space, on your terms - space and terms defined by you; with lessons that you've gathered.

The thought for this post came up when Him and I talked about our respective forays into the world. Our experiences were very different. But both of us look upon our time at home as a blessing; an environment that may not have had the excitement of a theme park or every tailor made wish brought true, but one that had infinite love and security. They didn't want us messing around. What was so wrong about that anyway?

Watching Mini-Him (my son) brings issues into sharper focus. I hope, for all of the arguments and slamming doors that I foresee in his future, that as an adult, he still thinks of home with fondness and as a place that he wishes he had not left after all.

pic credit - http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=1750


  1. Anne, I left home when I was exactly that age - 16. Seems like a long time away now. Although I religiously call home once every day, even now, I do miss the comfort, the familiarity, the being cared for. The train incident you mentioned, its so moving! Depicts just the kind of tiny challenges you face when you're on your own, the kind of challenges that can never be foreseen! But you know, as you said, you NEED to move out, and live your own life, make your own mistakes, fall, so that you learn to get up and move on...Lovely post, Anne!


  2. Anne,
    What a wonderful reflection! We all leave home in some form or fashion. I think I left mine when I was six--that's when I began to escape in the depths of books.
    As I hear your story, I feel a deep inner strenghth in you and a strong determined spirit. I suspect that is where much of the richness in your writing comes from...
    Like you, I too have realized that they have made me who I am and even in the chaos and craziness...I was loved deeply. It is difficult having a 16 year old as they spread their wings to grow. I'm right there with you.
    Thanks for sharing such an intimate part of who you are.

  3. Tulika, you know exactly what I am saying then :-)
    Yes, it was that too...the ability to get up and move on. Wouldn't have come with the infinite patience and elastic time to recover that we're blessed with at home. Thank you for your thoughts and for stopping by. I'm a fan of everything you write!Love,Anne :-)

  4. Pleemiller, thank you for everything that you've said. Made my morning!That's a thought - that one could leave even just being there. Books do transport us don't they? Form alternate universes to live in. They are such a blessed escape! And yes, you'd know about teenagers; it's going to be interesting when my very vocal son gets into his teens.
    Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts and the wonderful compliment. Your picture stories and poems always make me reflect on the many things I miss everyday. Deep thoughts that are a pleasure to read.

  5. Anne- it's amazing what we don't see when we are in the middle of a situation. Home is definitely a place where we feel part of the group. I hope your son grows up thinking of your home with fondness, as well.

    I have awarded you the Stylish Blogger Award. Come on by my blog at www.karenshealthylifestyle.blogspot.com to pick it up!

  6. Thank you for reading the post and the comment Karen! Also, thank you for the award :-) I haven't had 'stylish' attributed to me in all my life! LOL! I'm honored to receive it! Will come by to pick it up. Wish you a happy week!

  7. Anne, this is a lovely post! You are such a spellbinding writer, and so human. As you know, I have just left home. I hope I am as strong as you are. I hope that now you get all the happiness in life that makes up for all the hard times. I'm pretty sure you have already, or it's all coming up!

  8. Thank you Shabana. Mornings like this one are wonderful indeed :-) I have followed your particular journey. Bravo! I think you've already proved your mettle by making a decision and moving into your own place. It's big step forward. It's dealing with the little stuff that we took for granted that takes a lot of gumption I think. You've done it!
    Thank you for stopping by and for your positive and encouraging comments - hugs - Anne

  9. Oh my Anne, what a good read... couldn't have found this on a better day, you know after the drama weekend here LOL... I think 16 is very young, but then.. I guess it depends on who, where and what... sounds like you did great.. it surely must be good learning experience...

  10. Pascale,
    Oh dear! Drama weekend sounds like fireworks. True, 16 is very young. But the issues then are so potent, they are just waiting to tear upon anyone who dares to offer a challenge!LOL!! I really believe that we all gave each other a break. And took myself off to a world that sorted me out pretty quickly! :-D Here's to peace for the coming weekends. Hugs - Anne


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