Home is a place of emotional connection, typically where feels their closest association to adolescence, growth, and maturation. More simply, home is not just where you grow up, it is where your heart is also. For me, I have two homes — 15510 Biltmore Avenue where I grew up, and 3947 Lee Heights Boulevard where I learned to be who I am today. Both places, my house and my grandmother’s house, hold many memories and emotions that remain etched in their wood and that will transcend the occupants of their space. In less than one month will mark the 10-year anniversary of my grandmother’s death which has left an impact felt by me and my family to this day. However, I wanted to note one other insight about home which is heard to acknowledge and that is that home is hard to leave.
Either, voluntarily (my uncle lived with my grandmother a decade or so prior to her death and kept the house after her death) or involuntarily (I cannot afford my own spot because — unemployment), home is hard to leave. Sometimes it’s due to timing, money (or lack thereof), location options, employment (or lack thereof), family, health, school, and the list goes on and on. But, sometimes it’s a result of comfortability, trauma, fear, insecurities, and false promises or hope, and much more. Personally, I have stayed at home because of all of these reasons and more. However, I am not the only one staying at home living with parents –statistics show that more millennials are staying at home and staying longer after graduation than any generation prior. According to Forbes, 1 in every 4 millennial lives at home with their mother. Furthermore, Pew Research Center stated that 33% of 25–29-year olds lived with their parents or grandparents, which is the highest rate in 75 years. The reasons for this are many and well documented — the economy (recession and slow recovery), rampant unemployment, inflated rental costs and cost of living, etc. Today, I know high achieving millennial professionals and the next wave of leaders who live at home with their parents or grandparents. It’s crazy how something looked down upon or considered a regression is now commonplace for an entire generation. How do we “remedy” this phenomenon-now-trend?
I could list and expound upon the many socioeconomic and academic methods for course-correcting this trend, but I’m not. We know that this generally boils down to improved rates of full-time employment that pays fair market salaries, addressing and reducing student loan debt, developers investing in high quality and affordable mid-price point housing, access to diverse communities with amenities that respect the existing communities as well as being attractive to millennial needs and wants. But, I would like to discuss how the biggest need is a paradigm shift, or change in thought, as to how we view living at home, particularly from the viewpoint of the person living it.
Granted, I struggle with this myself as I have judged other whom I view as ascendant who stay at home; but, I have more harshly judged myself for being supposedly ascendant (at one point) and living at home. Outsiders observing or interacting with these folks would benefit from having discussion with those who live at home and help direct them to reliable resources to help them into a better situation — or, just mind their own business and respect that this is that person’s choice and is what works best for them now. After all, we all bloom in due season. If there is something that they can do to help change the systemic issues around this then they should do so.
However, it is when looking at myself that poses the greatest challenges that come with being an adult (nearing 30) still at home. It is the overwhelming feeling of guilt in being in a place that you have to live with, rely on, or support your aging parent; shame in being that position, not meeting the expectations of yourself and others; loss in perceived regression compared to other and in time wasted in a static point in life; and, despair because time seems finite to get out of the situation with fewer appealing options, if any. It is key to reject those thoughts by: 1. Remaining positive and surrounded by encouraging supports; 2. Find tasks and opportunities (paid or not) that you enjoy and which keep you busy; 3. Keep focused — strategize, goal-setting, and plan a way to achieve the goals you still have yourself; 4. Modify plans and goals so that the end goal never changes, but considers the new pathways and opportunities to get there considering your current station in life; 5. Pray A LOT; and, 6. Be in open and honest dialogue with someone you trust to take the edge off and not feel constrained by time and circumstance. Staying at home is not the issue, but the issue is the internal schism between what is the circumstance that got you there and what we thought got us there. Our own mind is the greatest inhibitor of, not why home is hard to leave but, why we struggle with finding peace and opportunity in the place we are emotionally connected.
I plan on working again in a career that makes me happy and moving out of my parents’ house. I aspire to one day open up my home and provide them a place they can build emotional ties and live out in peace, similar to what they’ve afforded me for 29 years. I desire to get to a place where I can reflect on this period in my life, not as a time of stasis or regression, but as a time of fortification and preparation for the next step in my life –a step towards success, a step towards building a physical and emotional home of my own.