Because I am a budget conscious 20-something, a lot of my furniture comes from places like Target and IKEA. I don’t mind building it myself (or with some very strategic help — thanks mom and boyfriend) even if I kind of suck at it. It’s a point of pride, really.
Recently I went to IKEA for the first time in more than a year. And what I found myself doing as I walked through that maze of a store was thinking about what my future place would be like. That isn’t particularly unusual for me — I watch HGTV and DIY Network more than is probably healthy. The new part was that I was picturing it with my boyfriend. We even discussed our favorite pieces together, already beginning the long road of compromise (even though a place of our own is far into our future).
Thinking about a future home with my boyfriend and not alone was a big change for me. And no, it’s not because of commitment issues or because we are only just figuring out we want to spend our lives together.
I crave independence. Living alone is a dream, not because I don’t love living with my family — because I really do more than probably most 20-somethings — but because I want to prove to myself that I can. I want to know that despite my illnesses, many of which land me in the ER way more times than I am willing to admit, I can live the life I want.
Denial? Yeah, we’re good friends.
Illness has pretty much guaranteed that this isn’t going to happen. A recent diagnosis sealed the deal. So now it’s the reality of going from living with family to living with a significant other. And I am finally coming to realize that this is okay.
Illnesses — especially chronic ones that involve pain, physical limitations, and fatigue — can seriously change the reality of your typical 20-something. Each week I have to think about not how many events I can fit into my weekend but which ones my body can take. Do I want to take a weekend trip knowing that it may leave me feeling run down for the rest of the week? (Probably, because I also like fun). Do I want to spend a weekend doing Netflix and taking care of my house? Maybe. With every choice comes a consideration about my health and a likely compromise.
I am beginning to accept this reality. And the compromise of losing some independence is slowly beginning to seem okay and even kind of nice.