ExecutiveChronicles | How to Start Adult Life Without Family Support | Turning 18 is a huge milestone for everyone. When you finally get the chance to leave home and find your way, it can feel so exciting. For some, the period of time feels stressful and scary, especially if they are forced to leave home before they’re ready or do not have parents to guide them.
If you are the latter, you may be wondering how to start your adult life when it seems everything in the universe is against you. You may begin to experience anxiety and depression, as well as the effects of trauma in your life. Don’t worry. It’s 100% possible, and we’re here to outline some top tips to help you figure out where you want to go from here.
Here are five tips for starting adult life without family support.
Get a Social Team as Soon as Possible
As humans, we are social creatures. Having a group of people on our side is good for our mental and physical health. That’s why, even if you do not have a family in your life, you should work to find a chosen family. This group could include close friends, cousins, and more.
It’s also essential to try to get into therapy as soon as possible if you have trauma from your family life as a teenager or child. A therapist can help you find resources, talk through your trauma, and be someone to give you sound advice when you need it.
You can also look into the following services to add to your social team:
- Case management (for job, medication, and organization help)
- Accommodations at school
- A medical doctor
- A mentor
Since you don’t have your parents to speak to when things get hard, you’ll want to make sure you still have a support system, so you don’t have to go it alone. College is a great way to make friends, which we’ll talk about in the next point.
College Is Still an Option
Did you know that you can still receive financial aid for college without a parent? Even if your parents are alive and make reasonable amounts of money, if they aren’t in your life, you are eligible for a large portion of government financial aid as a homeless youth until you turn 24.
All you need to qualify for this is to fill out the FAFSA as a homeless youth, foster youth, or at-risk youth. Your university of choice will require proof of your situation, as it is not the norm. You can get confirmation by visiting a counselor and requesting a note about your status and proof of homelessness. Other evidence includes a letter from a homeless shelter, letters from friends in your life who have witnessed your situation, or a high school counselor’s note.
College dorms are covered under financial aid, and you can stay in them for most of the year (outside of the holidays and breaks). You can also get a meal plan through the school. Just be sure to attend your classes and do your homework.
Living Expenses Must Be Considered
If you’re not going to be living at school, you may want to consider what you can reasonably pay for your living expenses. For young adults, your income is most likely lower than that of older adults. It’s a good idea to search for housing situations that fit the following criteria:
- Rooms for rent
- Private landlords
- Roommate situations
- Dorm or university housing
Online boards like Craigslist are a great place to start your search. You can also check out Facebook Marketplace. Always be sure to meet with the landlord or potential roommate in person outside of the home before checking out the house. You want to make sure it’s not a potentially dangerous situation.
Don’t Take Out Loans Before You’re Ready
It’s imperative that you try to avoid the pull of loans and credit cards as an option before you’re ready. It may feel like you are willing and able to make payments, but the reality is much different.
Car loans, personal loans, and credit cards all have substantial interest rates and short periods of payment when you’re first starting out. You may only have to pay 25 dollars a month, but you may not end up with that amount if you’re homeless and in a scary situation.
You should only consider a loan or credit card if you have a stable full-time job, have a history of saving money and paying people back, have somewhere to live, and know you won’t be changing any of those criteria in the next year.
Being a young adult is such a quickly changing period of life, and that’s why it’s essential to not make huge decisions until you’ve gotten to a more stable point. If your credit card or car loan doesn’t get paid off, you may face repossession and a massive drop in your credit score, which can ruin your chance at better housing and resources for many years.
If you don’t have family validation, it’s essential to provide that for yourself. You may not feel like it will help you, but it’s better than nothing. You are the best person for yourself at the moment, and being able to tell yourself that you are proud of yourself is an essential step in learning self-love and resilience.
A large number of young adults have physical and mental health problems after leaving a traumatic childhood and being on their own for the first time. You may feel that all of your trauma and all of the bad things that happened flood to you at once, and it’s overwhelming.
Without support from your parents, you may feel highly lost. That’s why it’s essential to be your own best friend and always stand up for yourself. Don’t judge your emotions. They’re there for a reason. It’s okay to feel stressed, scared, and alone when you’re a young adult navigating the world without help.
If you want to learn more about family psychology, check out BetterHelp’s advice column on the subject here: https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/family/.
You aren’t alone in the world, and you’ve got this!