So, one of the concessions I made in order to pursue my current projects (writing, a second Master’s degree) was moving home. Home is in a slightly different location than it was, as my parents recently built their dream house out on the Eastern Shore and are (slowly) working their way towards retirement. (If they ever retire–I’ll believe it when I see it.) But yes, I’m living with them, at least for the next year, possibly longer depending on how my job search and financial situation end up.
It’s a common enough tale for people of my age group. We’ve been struggling to get our feet under us since 2008 and, while I’ve noticed many of my friends are finally moving into positions for which they’re not horrendously over-qualified, it’s been a difficult process for many. In 2009, after I graduated college and decided to take a year off before pursuing my MFA, the prospect of living at home while unemployed or underemployed was the most depressing reality I could imagine. (Okay, not worse than, say, famine in Africa or civil war in the Middle East, but still–relatively speaking.) The four months I spent job-searching were the slowest and most demoralizing of my life so far. And I went to a public high school, people.
Much of it was embarrassment. I graduated in the top 10% of my class with two majors and a freakin’ honors degree. I’d done internships. I had campus jobs. I had extracurricular activities coming out of my ears. It shouldn’t have been hard for me to get some decent entry-level job with health insurance, but it was. And, I thought, surely only deadbeats live with their parents? In short, I felt like a complete loser.
(End of the sob story: eventually I got my gig at a drug policy nonprofit and life got better after that. Although I still didn’t have health insurance until I returned to school.)
Now I’m looking at the prospect of living at home again and it doesn’t bother me at all. The circumstances are different, for one. I already know I’ll be in school as of January. And although job opportunities are limited, I’ve had some encouraging returns already. (Keep your fingers crossed, all the same!) But more than that, I know I’m lucky. I have a family who supports me when I need it. My parents and I get along. And it’s a symbiotic relationship: I cook and help out around the house and with the pets; they let me stay here.
And you know, from an ethical standpoint, it works out in our favor. On the one hand, my parents can afford the kinds of ecological choices that were difficult for me on my own: CSA memberships, organic food, energy-friendly and water-saving appliances, alternative forms of heating and electricity. If you tell me the price of a solar panel, I cry. But for established professionals like my folks, it’s a legitimate option. On my end, I can bring the experiences I already have–cheap, easy ways to save power like unplugging appliances at night, some handwashing (but I love having a washer), air-drying, lower fuel use, etc. And in terms of overall energy and space usage, it’s much more efficient to live with other people. So there’s that.
Don’t get me wrong–I’m looking forward to feeling more independent again. And I really, really, really want a job. But for now, I can say, living at home isn’t so bad, so long as you remember why you’re there and what your goals are.