What I learned during the 7 months I spent homeless

In February, my grandmother, with whom I lived, passed away. This left me homeless. I was a little more dependent on her than I would like to admit. But that’s not the point. After packing up our apartment, I grabbed my bags and began toting them around. I stayed on friends’ couches and slept in extra beds. I sold my car and I road-tripped with a college friend for a while (two months!), and then I continued the couch-surfing process. I don’t know how this all sounds to you, but it was not that awful. It was definitely an adventure and definitely a learning process. So, as I settle into my first permanent living situation in months, here I am to tell you the top five things I learned through this journey!

1. Your support system could quite possibly be the most important thing in your life

The friends and family that you surround yourself with are vital to the quality of your life. Keep quality people around. Invest in those who invest in you, and don’t let go of or push away the people who always have your back. I learned in these last few months that the people who cared about me the most were more than willing to support me and help me figure out life.

Just as important as holding onto the good ones is–it is equally important to let go of the bad ones. The people in your life who constantly have some big opinion on what you’re doing, the people who think negative things about you, and the ones who just downright don’t have your back, those are the people to get rid of. Some of them will be worth having a conversation with to possibly mend the relationship, but some will be worth blocking on Facebook and excommunicating.

2. Owning a lot of stuff actually sucks

No matter how much you love your extensive movie collection, you will hate it when it comes time to move. For me, I travel a lot to begin with. The more “stuff” I have, the more I have to lug around or store. This could be different for someone who settles down and lays roots early, but as a bright-eyed young person, I love the freedom that comes with not owning a house full of stuff. I don’t miss my couch, or my TV, or my extensive movie collection. And when it comes to things like movies, I just download them to my 500GB external hard drive and call it a day. It’s much easier to take everywhere!

3. Maintaining a positive attitude always is a must!

Life is hard. You’re only going to make it harder on yourself physically and psychologically by fostering a negative attitude. If you find yourself constantly depressed, please talk to a professional about it. And also, do things that make you happy, think about things that make you happy, and really, just pursue happiness! Your mind and body will thank you if you keep a positive attitude through whatever life holds.

4. Wasting time on things you don’t like isn’t worth it

I’ve heard this before, and my initial thought has always been “what about work?” Sometimes we have to work and make money, and we don’t always like our jobs. If you don’t like your job, find something better. Find something you like to do. I don’t love working minimum-wage jobs. They’re usually boring and tedious, but I’ve had to do it. Within the realm of minimum-wage retail jobs, I have found a few that I actually really enjoy. For example, I loved working for Jamba Juice! It was fast-paced and fun! But even beyond the workplace, don’t spend time on things you don’t like. Fill your time with things you love. Let the goal be not to simply survive and succeed, but pursue a thriving life that you truly enjoy.

5. Time spent focusing on others could be the best part of your day

Let’s not be so consumed with the craziness of our own lives. When you take time out of your day to listen to someone’s story, or to help someone out, you remove your mind’s focus from you and your needs. For a second, you aren’t the most pressing matter and that is a liberating feeling. Everyone has struggles, everyone is going through life just like you are–with many ups and downs. It’s so important to remember that life is a journey for everyone. So let’s band together and make life a positive experience for all.

Amanda Ferguson is a 22-year-old undergrad psychology student who loves life! She loves to travel, loves happy hour, and people. She hates when people don’t know how awesome they are. 

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