10 Steps to Become Independent: Learning the Basics of Essential Life Skills

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Arman Khodai

Living on your own might be something that you dream of achieving someday, but at the same time, the thought can be scary. You might even think it is impossible that you will live on your own. First, you need an income, and then after that you need the survival skills and street smarts to take care of yourself without anyone there to support you.

This guide will help prepare you for that transition so that someday you can live independently. This guide is not meant to be comprehensive but rather to offer you a few suggestions to help you along the way.

Step 1: Create a support network—We need people to be there for us and to also be honest with us and tell us how we can improve ourselves. Preferably, this network will extend beyond family members and include at least one close friend that you trust. Ultimately, when you are living on your own, you might encounter many obstacles you never thought of, especially obstacles of a social nature, and you will want someone there to be supportive of you and to help you as you navigate a life of independence.
Step 2: Master your weaknesses: It is a good idea to try and be aware of your weaknesses. If possible, have your close friend tell you what they feel are your biggest weaknesses. It is also good to know your strengths, but it is your weaknesses that you need to work on. For instance, you might get very focused on playing video games for hours, maybe days at a time. While it is okay to play video games, playing them for days at a time when trying to live on your own can lead to you losing your job and also your house. So, it is important that you recognize your weaknesses and do your best to work with them.

Step 3: Learn to cook: Have someone teach you how to cook. If you have no desire to ever cook, invest in a microwave. However, it should be noted, that it is probably healthier to try and eat some homemade meals rather than meals that have been processed and are heated in the microwaved.

Step 4: Learn to balance your money: Have someone work with you to set a budget and learn to balance your finances. Set money aside for emergencies and be sure to pay your rent and bills on time.

Step 5: Learn to balance your schedule: It is important to learn how to do multiple things in a day. You need to be flexible and willing to schedule time for activities, work, and social engagements.

Step 6: Get involved in the community: Maybe you don’t like going out and meeting people. Perhaps you were bullied in school. But, it is still important to try and meet people and go outside your comfort zone.

Step 7: Master some form of transportation—Either learn to drive or figure out how to use the public transportation system. If you are living on your own, you will need to be able to effectively get around town.

Step 8: Learn to be assertive—When you are on your own, your parents will no longer be able to stand up for you. Being assertive doesn’t mean fighting back or having attitude, but it does mean standing up for yourself and not allowing people to walk all over you.

Step 9: Live a healthy lifestyle—Exercise and try to eat healthy. Also, maintain your hygiene or you might find yourself out of a job.

Step 10: Follow your dreams and make them come true—Look through the newspapers and online and find that apartment or house that you desire to live in. Decide that you are going to move out and make it happen. And, if your parents try to talk you out of it, don’t listen to them; they just worry about all. Ultimately, living on your own is something that you have to make happen for yourself. So, decide that is what you want and don’t allow anything to deter you from your goal.

Arman Khodaei is a 26 year old individual with Asperger’s living in Rancho Cucamonga, California. Find out more on his site, Empower Autism