Independence is responsibility. Responsibility is misery. Freedom is a lie.
Welcome, friendo, to my first and, if God’s still on my side, last iteration of Bursting Bubbles; a so-called series in which I take things Egyptians aspire to have and to become, things that they believe will make their quality of life better, and just take a leisurely yet realistic dump all over it. Today’s topic is disappointing your family like never before and becoming a starving, herpetic hedonist, also known as moving out and having a semblance of independence, however fleeting it may be.
Bear in mind that although I’m going to try and put things into adequate perspective, not everything is truly terrible. Moving out is one of the many (entirely optional) steps you can take to truly shape yourself into a stronger, more adaptive version of you right now. All I want to do is to try and bring some of the realities of it all into light so that you don’t fall flat on your face. Anyway, here’s some shit you might have not known about living on your own.
Bubble: You Can Definitely Afford it
Besides the drama with your family (which we’ll get to), actually living on your own mostly boils down to a hefty amount of money, and it’s not just the rent; every little thing you took for granted back at home has a price, and it’s time to pay up.
The plan: Assume that your “all-inclusive” rent is everything you should worry about and the rest of your humanly expenses will just magically fall into place, you’ll wing it like all adults do, right? You’ll set aside the rest of whatever it is you call a salary for food (oh boy), socialising, sin and the occasional shiny bauble, disregarding anything else that well and truly should be in a budget.
The reality: Holy shit you’re coughing up blood and healthcare is expensive as all hell, your car also needs an oil change (oof) and new brake pads (OOF), and how the hell are you supposed to keep your place somewhat clean without a barrel of cleaning supplies? ELECTRICITY ISN’T PART OF THE RENT? WHY IS THIS TOILET NOT WORKING??
The takeaway: Literally take every little sundry and emergency into consideration for your budget. A budget isn’t just subtracting rent and idiocy from what you make; it includes contingencies for when things go tits up, you get sick, your car gets totalled, you get fined for whatever, you need to fix your phone or computer, any and all situations where you’ll need money and cannot resort to asking your parents (or friends) for it. It comes as absolutely no surprise that living alone is expensive here, but you definitely need to be in the know when it comes to all the things you take for granted. There are a tonne of budget apps and smart spending choices you can glean from the Internet and people you know to help smooth things along, so do way more research into it before you actually take the (financial) leap.
Bubble: You Can Finally Let Loose
One of the many benefits of having your own space is that you have a hell of a lot more freedom to embrace your (human) wild side; you can finally have so much sex, you can be reasonably more liberal with your substance abuse, and you can do whatever you want, whenever you want with whoever you want.
The plan: Catch up on all those “missed connections” that you couldn’t connect with due to your previous living situation, get a boat and a half’s worth of drugs and alcohol to keep the party going with your pals, and on that note, have a bunch of your companions over for fun, games, herpes and socialising. If you’re not a complete train wreck (although that’s in this year), you’ll be hopping in and out of bed with your significant other(s) on the regular, your whole house will smell like the inside of a joint for months, you’ll play tip toe around your friends’ floored bodies while looking for the one guy you’re convinced now lives in your cupboards.
The reality: Between finding time to work, cook, clean, pretend to entertain yourself and sleep, when are you going to have time to socialise enough to sleep with anyone? And assuming that you already have “contacts,” will you have time for them after a long day’s work? Do you have any idea about what sexual health (herpes) is? Do you also know how horrifically expensive (and habit-forming) drugs and alcohol really are? Can you afford to engage in any of that while trying to finance an already expensive lifestyle? Do your friends help out around the house? Split bills on certain things? Are you just running a 3’orza?
The takeaway: Limit your expectations, be realistic about your time and energy, and weigh the risk/reward between fun and money. Booze is expensive, so are narcotics, I’m not against either, but I’m against terrible spending, and so should you if you ever hope to not crawl back to your parents. Sex is overrated and if you make it a chief focus on your decision to move out, you’re not ready. Cutting down on your morning commute is a hell of a lot more orgasmic than anything else as an adult. Make a habit of limiting your space to people you actually trust to be worth their weight. Sure, hedonism is nice every now and then, but only when you legitimately have time for it, and only if you can afford it. Again, check your budget, friendo.
Bubble: Food isn’t an Issue
Right, well assuming you’re a garden-variety “I don’t know how ovens work” Egyptian with almost no background when it comes to preparing your own (actual) meals, you’ll quickly come to realise that, at first, keeping yourself alive is kind of a challenge.
The plan: Buy a bunch of fresh produce, random dairy products, things that generally expire faster than you assume they will, condiments (might as well be a food group to you), a metric shit tonne of instant noodles (or similar sodium equivalent) and fill in the gaps with fast food. You can just subsist on a diet of minimalist sandwiches and canned goods, you’ll occasionally add a gingerly dash of something to your cup noodles – of which you’ll be consuming about four a day – after the occasional big mac, and to keep things level, you’ll eat a carrot. Survival sure is easy.
The reality: Without your regularly prepared (and diverse) meals courtesy of your parents, you’ll find that your body will, in a way, slowly die. Subsisting on simple snacks and things that take minimal effort to “prepare,” without caring at all about your recommended intake of nutritious shit, will ultimately leave your body lethargic, anaemic, under or overweight (depending on the noodles), and you’ll generally feel like you got run over by a seven-seater Peugeot. Oh and everything you assume will keep for a couple of weeks will decay beyond edibility after six or so days.
The takeaway: Learn how to eat like a functional human being. You need all manner of vitamins, micro and macro nutrients, proteins, carbohydrates, garbage, magic and elven blessings to stay alive and functional (you need to be functional to work), and that’s what you should factor into your food. Your family’s food usually comes diversified enough, so you never had to worry. If you’re picky with your eats, kill that habit as quickly as you can, because (initially) you’ll need to take what you can get, whenever you can get it. Get used to buying generic and discounted food products; legit the same as the “premium” brand but cheaper, and the less fancy you are, the longer you’ll live and the likelier you’ll break free from the chains of consumerism. Do not make a habit of subsisting on fast food, I don’t have to explain why that’s a bad idea, and if I do, you should not be allowed to live alone.
Bubble: Cooking is Even Less of an Issue
So you somehow managed to get a handle on what you should spend on when it comes to food, but eventually, you’re going to have to put some of it on a fire and hope for the best. Your mom made it look somewhat easy and you think it’s time to step up to the stove.
The plan: Attempt to go to a butcher and ask for dead animal meat, put it on a pan with some aromatic powders and maybe some oil? Leave it on the fire for roughly 20 minutes while the whole house looks and smells like the bar scene from Star Wars, make some spaghetti with ketchup on the side to round things up, and dig into your deluxe dinner.
The reality: Food poisoning, gastroenteritis, the shits, wasted money and a few near-death experiences. Who knew that cooking something, anything a minute or so less can send you on an express ride to hell’s gate? Even if you manage to survive your kitchen onslaught, you’ll likely have little to no flavour in your bites, seeing as all of mom’s (or dad’s) random, mysterious little plastic bags full of frozen herbs and her overflowing spice rack might as well be applied kinematics to you.
The takeaway: Do not be ashamed of asking folks (even your mom) how you can eat without dying. Butcher terminology is weird, but it’s not Latin; when in doubt, ask for “steek,” and no it’s not a cartoon steak, it’s just the Egyptian term for thin-ish slices of meat, you can also ask for Kabab 7alla, which is basically just cubed meat. Alternatively, just ask the guy what you want in plain terms, he’ll be more than happy to help. Going to your nearest 3attar can prove to be a learning experience, and an aromatic adventure in general; they’ll have great insights on what works for what, spice and food wise, and make a habit of perusing fruit and vegetable carts (not supermarkets), quality is often better seeing as they’re fresh, and the prices tend to be much less than a store, and it differs from cart to cart. Obviously the internet exists to fill you in on how to put it all together, reddit should be your best friend at some point, and even montada fatakat (or something similarly miserable) is full of authentic dish recipes for you to follow. Also, call your mom for fucks sake and just ask her how she does it, but on that note…
Bubble: You’ll Be Fine Alone
Perhaps most significant of all the potential perks of independence is escaping all the commotion at home. Whether it’s your siblings mucking about, your parents having one of their bi-weekly “divorce me” fights, or the chores they throw on you, you’ll be far-detached from it all, only abiding by your own rules.
The plan: Finally have time to explore yourself and what you want out of life without external static, you won’t be bound by any arbitrary rules to go here, there, or anywhere, at whatever time, and you definitely, absolutely will not get lonely or miss any of them. You’ve been living with them for over two decades, why would they matter now?
The reality: That all kind of happens, but you are going to miss the ever-loving fuck out of them from the moment you decide to go for it, much less move out. Sure, you might be living with roommates (who will hopefully be your friends), and you’ll have your friends around whenever feasible, but oftentimes they won’t be around, neither will your roommates, or your significant other(s). You’ll start to miss the simple fact that somebody close to you (whether you like it or not) is outside your room, always around to talk or just sit around, not even with, around. Sure, you won’t miss the garbage inherent in it all, but you’ll miss that familiarity of having a loved one nearby, doubly so when you get sick or fall on hard emotional times.
The takeaway: Stay in touch with your family as much as you can, regardless of anything. They’ll likely be pissed at you for the first month or two (or not at all, go figure), but they’ll obviously still love you, on some level at least. When things die down, spend a weekend or random days with them, talk, laugh, cook together, go out for a meal, anything. Distance does miraculous wonders when it comes to family, and you’ll genuinely be surprised at how reinvigorated your dealings with them will be after a suitable absence. It’s not all about family though; make a habit of holding onto your overseas friends, reconnecting with old (worthwhile) friends, hanging out with folks from work, basically just keep the social aspect alive in you, so you don’t slip into lonely depression. We’re social creatures, friendo, nobody wants to live (or die) truly alone.
So yeah, those five points were (arguably) the most significant things you should put into perspective before wheeling out your suitcases. Yes, friendo, everything out there is fraught with peril and grim melancholy, but only through wading through it all, being bathed in it head to toe, and emerging out the other end, it’ll just become the norm. Oh and if you’re worried about getting arrested for poking people’s genitalia, that doesn’t actually happen unless you’re flamboyant as fuck about it, or are legit running a brothel. Tip your doorman, yeah?)