The first year I lived away from home, in a shared house was brilliant. However, it could be tough at times. Dealing with landlords by myself, on behalf of other people, sleeping in a bed leaning against a damp wall, being mocked by friends for the shabbiness of the house (it wasn’t That Bad.). I remember calling my mum several times because I didn’t know what to do next. But I got through it and learnt a lot.Surprisingly though, it was a simple mistake which made me think – I’ve failed. My housemates were away and I took the rubbish out without my keys or phone, or shoes as it happened. The door slammed in the wind behind me and I realised I was stuck outside. It was really a kicking myself moment, as I really like to be organised in order to avoid this kind of mistake. Thinking ahead is something I like to do to ensure things go well, and there was no reason for me to have been distracted.
After feeling cross with myself, a slight panic began to set in. My housemates were away for a least another three days. It was the end of term and very few of my university friends were around. My parents could come and get me, but I would have to hang around for at least three hours without any shoes on, and that’s assuming they were in when I phoned. And then it struck me that I didn’t have any money to phone anyone.
I think I probably began to panic a bit more at this stage, but it wasn’t for long. I had a revelation and got creative. And the first person I thought of was Holly Valance.
Why did I think of Holly Valance? Well, at the time, Holly Valance starred in an advert…with a memorable jingle… for reverse phone charges. I set off at once to the nearest phone box. Even though my parents didn’t have spare keys to my house I could at least get some support and ideas.
I always wondered how I would react in a difficult situation. I wasn’t in any danger particularly, and thinking back, I know I would have had lots of options had I been homeless. But I was pleased I could think through a tight spot, a frustrating problem, and alone. Rather than sit down and cry for a while (although sometimes that has to be the first step), I was determined to look for a solution. The best laid plans can fail, we can fail, and yet, with optimism and creativity, there are options available to us which we just have to tap into. In the face of a dilemma, it is interesting to see how we react.
And what happened to me?
My parents offered to come and get me, which was good of them. But I ended up remembering friends who were in a house not too far away, and who might just be in. I found two of them, who were more than willing to come with me to see if they could break in. Thankfully, we didn’t need to – one of my friends was skinny enough to fit through the kitchen window and open the door from the inside for the rest of us. They were happy enough to accept a pint in return for their help.