Moving back home after college wasn’t the end of the world


I had one goal upon graduation this Spring: move somewhere else. Anywhere. Cuba. New York. Singapore. Anywhere — except back home.

Spoiler alert: I’ve been living at home for the past six months.

In all my visions of post-grad life, I was moving on the day after graduation, a degree in my hand and a job lined up. I was in another country, speaking another language — and this had been my fantasy through all four years. My wanderlust was only exacerbated by my crazy formative semester in Europe last Fall.

To return to my hometown, the safe little suburb in which I’d already spent virtually a fourth of my rapidly diminishing existence, wasn’t an option.

Don’t get me wrong. I have a stellar relationship with my parents. I didn’t have any unfinished business with the mob, or ex-girlfriends I was trying to avoid (what’s the difference, really?) My reluctance to move back home after school had nothing to do with my parents, or the past — it had everything to do with me.

I wanted to get my life started. And Hometown, USA was not the place to do that.

So back in January, I made a commitment: have a plan come June 18th. Have a job lined up. Figure out a place to live. Whatever you do, Don’t. Go. Home. I cracked my knuckles and strutted into the new year with the confidence only a college senior can muster.

And then life did its thing and it was June 1st and I had no plans.

Sometime between January and June, all the balls I’d been juggling had turned into bars of soap, and my life path had become a proverbial Slip-N’-Slide of banana peels and K-Y jelly. I’d given my attention entirely to my senior thesis project and remaining upper division political science courses. I’d spent my nights taking advantage of the final months in which I still had an excuse to drink on a Wednesday. By the time I woke up on graduation day and actually looked at the month of July, it was far too late to think about leap-frogging from Riverside to Singapore.

The time came for me to clean out my apartment and start hauling four years worth of shit back home, and I was discouraged. I had two concerns.

One was borne purely out of ego: I didn’t want to be a cliche, the stereotypical millennial, the wayward twenty-something who moves back in with his parents because he can’t handle the “real world.” I didn’t think much about the rent I would no longer be paying, or the stocked pantry I’d have access to day and night. I wanted to keep struggling on my own, even if it was only for optics.

My second concern was far more grounded: I was worried about momentum.

I had grown immensely through the past four years. I had lived in another country (Viva Barcelona), earned my Bachelor’s degree (Cum Laude, thank you very much), and kept myself fed and clothed all on my own (be proud, Mom). I’d overcome drug abuse and anxiety, avoided contracting any STI’s, and made some of the best friends of my life. I was proud of who I’d become: self-reliant, self-disciplined, well-adjusted, and terrified I would lose it. Should I move back home, even if only for the summer, all of my progress would atrophy, my ambitions would stagnate.

It took me a couple months to realize that I had it all backward.

Far from losing momentum, I gained it. Back in the quiet of my suburb, I was able to reorganize. I laid out my entire life, all the scraps of paper and medals I’d collected over my college career, and engaged in honest introspection. The time that had previously gone to grocery shopping and cleaning my bathroom was suddenly mine again, and I dedicated that time to figuring out how to make my hobbies into a career. I blew the dust off all the books that I’d put off for four years and found the time to write on topics that didn’t carry a deadline. Instead of leaping into a hefty job and a new city, I was able to take the time to determine what kind of life I want to live.

And I was finally able to make plans. At the end of the month, I’m moving out of the house after seven months as a college graduate — and I regret nothing. Because of the time I have spent back home, I am confident in my goals and my plans. I have my priorities in order, and I know I’m making decisions based on introspection and not impulse.

We all take life at our own pace. There’s no shame in moving back home, whether it’s right out of college or three years after you graduate. Anywhere you can find the time to take a breath and reorganize is a good place to be — even if it’s only for the summer.