I’m 22, a college graduate and currently living with my parents. You’re probably thinking that my predicament isn’t a special one, and I agree with you. Nowadays it’s commonplace to owe thousands of dollars in loans to some figure in the sky, and still be scouring the internet for employment. We crank out a bachelor’s degree, to varying levels of success, only to wind up in our childhood bedrooms biting our nails to the bit.
My tale isn’t groundbreaking or original, but meant to show what it truly feels like to return to a place—a lifestyle—you outgrew. I’m surely not alone in feeling that moving home after four years of blissful semi-independence is a giant step backward.
I do fully acknowledge that it’s the most sensible and fiscally responsible decision for most graduates without a plan to make. But all the reasoning in the world can’t make this particularly large pill easier to dry swallow.
Moving home means returning to a time when life was more confusing (if that’s possible), half-formed and, honestly, awful. High school may not have been terrible for you (it wasn’t for me), but that doesn’t necessarily mean I want to go back. I don’t miss it. There, I said it. I don’t miss it or the minuscule town I grew up. Cue the breath of relief.
Comparable to going back to a bloody crime scene, coming home represents the person I was and no longer wish to be. I hadn’t “become” myself yet, and probably would never have if I had remained stuck in that small town mentality.
Who can honestly say they’ve remained the same person after four years of college? Especially if that collegiate experience lacked interaction with anyone from high school? I started over from scratch in another state, and it was the best decision I could’ve ever made, for my education and for myself.
The only thought that makes living under your parents’ roof, amongst your childhood stuffed animals and grade school report cards, easier is having an end date.
Fortunately, I do have an official end date and my next step has been hammered into place. But for those of you still piecing together this particular jigsaw puzzle, I understand your pain.
Independence (yeah, not so much)
Welcome back to rules, curfews and restrictions.
By all counts, my parents are pretty lenient. But not nearly as lenient as I was when I lived on my own. There isn’t an explicit sign proclaiming: “leave your freedom at the door,” but it’s implied. After making up your own rules, every small limitation feels like an elaborate injustice.
You now have a to-do list of household chores and parental figures constantly checking on the status of your job hunt. No, I don’t need to be reminded I have no gainful employment. I’m painfully aware of that.
There won’t be anyone allowed to join you in bed. There won’t be any sleeping in on the weekends, or weekdays for that matter. Hanging out in your bedroom all day is frowned upon, and every plan you make is vetted and must be described in 200 words or less.
Your space isn’t really yours
After moving back, a curious thought pops up: this isn’t really home anymore.
No matter how long you stay, it continues to feel like a temporary situation. You’re only here for a brief visit, that never seems to end.
Your bedroom isn’t really yours, either, especially if it’s been redecorated as mine has. Not that I had a strong connection to my glow-in-the-dark moon and stars wallpaper circa 2005, but it all feels different and slightly off.
It’s clear that this is your parents’ house, and your decorative style isn’t entirely welcome to clog up the bathroom or kitchen. Much of my belongings, from my past apartments, are crammed into large boxes sitting in storage and hidden deep in my closet.
One day soon my abstract animal painting will hang on a wall, but not today.
Where’d all my friends go?
I’m going to be straight forward, I lost contact with pretty much everyone I went to high school with.
Most of those friendships had reached their expiration date, as much of high school and its companionship has a limited shelf life. I’m positive many of the people I attended calculus with have lost interest in me as well.
But the looming question is: who is left to do anything with (i.e. dinner, drinks, etc.)? My parents? Count them out, they head to bed around 9:30 pm.
A quick text to your remaining friends elicits exciting responses of new jobs, new apartments, new significant others and more likely than not, a new place of residence. So there you are, left without anyone to see “Trainwreck” with.
Your best friends, those from college, have moved onto their next big step which coincidentally is somewhere far from your bumf*ck town. After that harsh realization comes the never-ending Netflix binges. It’s a sad reality when your Friday and Saturday night plans involve 6 hours of fictional drama.
I have passwords to HBO, Showtime and Hulu, but I’m not content. Go figure!
Hourly employment available
Finding a job is difficult and not instantaneous, as many of us would hope. Days and days are spent crafting relatively decent cover letters, tweaking resumes to include that one time you volunteered, and answering two hour long online questionnaires. Yet, the fifty job applications you’ve submitted have garnered no offers.
Your parents invariably get tired of you loafing around the house and think it’s time to adjust your expectations.
Cue the applications for positions at the supermarket, fast food drive thrus, and every coffeeshop and restaurant in the vicinity. If you can’t have a career, you might as well have a job, right?
So be prepared to slave away at even more applications. You’ll finally land something but your dishwashing shift will offer even more reason to escape your current situation.
Remember that this too shall pass…
Going into public is a terrifying concept
Moving home will make you a homebody. I can guarantee it.
It soon becomes painfully apparent that it takes a good amount of driving to even get to the nearest Walmart, so every trip out of the house takes on an exhausting quality.
Add in the possibility of running into people from high school, those you aren’t or weren’t friends with, and you’ll be praying to stay home.
You aren’t an awkward person if you want to avoid that semi-painful “how have you been? What are you up to?” conversation.
Perhaps you ran into an ex-classmate who had a baby right after graduation and works as a cashier at the Mobil by the highway. Saying you just graduated with your bachelors degree and are only home for the weekend won’t help her. You’re being completely selfless, see?
Be wise and just stay home. Watch every episode of “Grey’s Anatomy” in existence and patiently piece together your plan. Being aimless at 22 ain’t so bad.