Living At Home Has Taught Me These 5 Things About Unconditional Love
Your relationships, favorite romantic comedies, and poetry books teach you a lot about love. There are the lessons on trust and the importance of communication, or how friendships can turn into something more. You've learned to always be yourself, and know that everything happens for a reason. But, some of the best pieces of advice and life lessons in the book come from your family. Surprisingly, living at home has taught me a lot about unconditional love — and I wouldn't trade these few months for the world.
Don't get me wrong: I've been frustrated plenty of times with my living situation. I loved having a space to call my own during my senior year of college. Not to mention, explaining to my parents the latest with Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson isn't exactly ideal. (Hello, college roommates? Yes, I miss you.) What I'm coming to realize, though, is how unique this period of my life is going to be.
This is the one time that I can truly learn about unconditional love. You know that thing you have for guacamole, even though it's extra, or your dog, even when he eats your homework? It's not necessarily easy to understand. But, sharing a space with your family will teach you all about the respect, patience, and trust it takes to get there. I've learned these five little pieces of wisdom, and now I'm passing them on to you.
1. It Takes A Lot Of Mutual Respect
Respect is the name of the game. No matter what situation you're facing in life, it's key to treat others the way you want to be treated — "The Golden Rule," if you will. Particularly when you're living at home, you have to show respect. Your family needs to see that you understand and care about their time, space, and schedules. Don't leave a bunch of dirty dishes for them to clean the next morning or your clothes all over the couch. It comes across as putting yourself and your needs first, but in a negative way. (Let's be clear: There are plenty of healthy times to put yourself first.)
Instead, learn to read the room and how people react. Realize what buttons not to push, and add to the whole atmosphere of the place. This is where unconditional love begins — with a mutual and unspoken, "Hey I appreciate you and your space."
2. Patience Is Indeed A Virtue
Growing up, your parents might have told you that "patience is a virtue." At the time, you didn't know what to think. What does "virtue" even mean? But, as you got older, you began to learn this lesson — from situations as simple as dealing with traffic on the highway, or waiting in a long line for your morning cup of coffee.
You realized that complaining will get you nowhere, and that it's better to run the marathon, instead of sprint the sprint. Living at home, this applies to any situation when you're frustrated. Your siblings might steal your clothes, or your parents may not understand your pop culture references. Take a deep breath before choosing your next words or actions. Patience proves that despite everything going on, there's still a lot of love.
3. You Have To Learn To Listen
Along with patience comes learning to listen. It's so easy to shout your opinions at someone else. The challenge is listening to what they have to say, and seriously taking it into consideration. Living at home has taught me to be an extra good listener, because people don't always say what's on their mind. You have to ask questions even as simple as, "How was your day?" — then, genuinely care about the answer. If anything else, this shows the other person that you're interested in their life and opinions. (You might learn something, too!)
For example, my dad loves to talk about Game of Thrones theories and his favorite science shows. After a while, they can get draining, even though they're normally pretty cool. But, listening is my way of showing him some unconditional love. He'd do the same for me if I was ranting on about photography or the amazingness of ranch dressing.
4. You Can't Be Afraid To Speak Up, Too
You also can't be afraid to speak up and share what's on your mind. I tend to be a little passive aggressive, or just get nervous when it comes to confrontation. But, not handling a situation has made it even stickier in the long run.
Instead of beating around the bush, or biting my tongue, I've learned to be open with my opinions (while also showing respect). That's unconditional love for yourself — which is just as important as showing it to the family member or friend sitting across the table from you.
5. There Should Always Be Trust
In the words of Peter Pan, "Faith, trust, and pixie dust," am I right? Unconditional love and living at home both require a lot of trust. Maybe your parents aren't used to having you around again after four years away at school, or are leaving you in charge of the house while they're away. They expect you to respect the living space they've created, and treat it like your own. That means, taking out the trash on time and feeding your pets. Maybe even making dinner every once in a while for the entire fam.
Little actions lead to bigger results in this department, and build a reliable foundation. I've learned that the more you follow through (and the more that others keep their promises to you, as well), the easier it is to define trust. When trust is present, respect is present, and you may even see some glimpses of hope. Put all of those things together, and you have the definition of unconditional love.