Have you heard about the study that just came out stating that young people are now more likely to live with their parents than their partners? Yep. According to a Pew Research Center report, more 18-to-34-year-olds live with their parents than in any other living arrangement for the first time in modern history.
I found the article particularly interesting because I was one of those young people and, to be quite honest, I never thought it would happen to me.
Growing up, I saw life as a straight path. First, you get through junior high, then take driver’s ed, turn 16, get a car, a part time job, maybe get a boyfriend, graduate, go to college, graduate, get a job, get married, and so on. Things happen in order and I was enjoying this straight path for quite some time: I left Fort Worth for college in Nashville. Check. I got a job and moved to New York. Check. And then, after two years in New York, I realized that I didn’t want to climb a ladder that someone else had built to determine my own success. So I quit.
Now, I’m paraphrasing a lot. Life certainly didn’t feel like a straight path while it was happening. There were the usual ups and downs that a college kid turned working girl faces, and it wasn’t an easy decision to quit the job that I’d dreamed about for 4 years. Plus, when you stop working the paychecks stop coming, and that’s really not a great way to live in New York.
For the first time in my life (all ups and downs aside), I felt like I’d reversed down the path. Instead of getting married or finding a better job, I was moving in with my parents.
There’s a stigma attached, right? I felt like if someone didn’t know my full story, they’d think I’d failed. Poor girl who couldn’t handle New York even after all those years of planning for success! That was about 7 years ago, just around the time when this statistic began to take hold. Now, I like to think that I was one of the founding young people to move in with their parents -- I’m actually a trendsetter, you guys. And to be honest, I was thrilled to be home for a bit. It didn’t take long before I was applying for jobs in Austin, a seemingly perfect way to get back on that straight path.
But when the jobs didn’t come as quickly as I’d hoped and an opportunity arose to spend three months in Kenya, the place I loved most in the world, I decided that maybe I’d stay with my parents a little bit longer while I raised money for the trip.
According to this article, the main reason young folks are moving back home is because of money. Living at home is cheap and in a world of high student debt and a diminishing amount of sugar daddies (more men than women live with their parents), every saved penny helps. And it’s true! I didn’t pay rent for a year. I’d like to think I contributed to groceries and did my own laundry but 7 years ago is a long time and my memory is foggy, mmk?
But let me tell you the reason I wanted to share my experience. I thought that moving into my old bedroom after going through college then being on my own for two years after that would be difficult. I was afraid that my social life would diminish, my freedom would fly away, and that I’d bow under the pressure of so-called failure. What I learned is that all the things I was afraid of were related to some pretty selfish desires and that moving back home wasn’t about furthering my career, it was about nourishing my soul.
I was weeks away from turning 25 when I landed in back in Texas, an adult by society’s standards. And, it turns out, by my parent’s standards. I was still their first-born daughter, but I wasn’t a kid and they didn’t treat me like one. The best thing about moving back in with my parents was getting to know each other as adults. I can’t pinpoint an exact moment or conversation, but I think the undercurrent was trust. I trusted that my parents didn’t think I was a failure, they were just happy to have me there for however long it lasted. And my parents trusted that I wouldn’t give up on a career or a life outside of my teenage bedroom.
It was one of the sweetest years of my life. After I swallowed my pride, I found myself having a lot of fun. I hung out with my parents and I was totally cool with that being the majority of my social life. We’d try new restaurants, see movies, do DIY projects, work out, and get coffee together. I saw my mom and dad as two people with interests, quirks, talents, and wisdom. It’s kinda like when you see your teacher at Target with their kids and you realize they don’t live at school, that they have lives outside of school. I was able to see the big picture of my parents’ lives and understand them as humans who were once kids, went to school, made mistakes, fell in love, and wondered what was next just like me. Maybe they were always meant to be Mom and Dad, by the thing is, they’re also Jane and Doug.
Moving back home was never a step backwards. It was an essential year of my life that made me who I am, more than any job, city, or boyfriend ever could. I was always taking steps forward, and while the free rent was definitely a perk, it was nothing compared to the lessons in meeting my parents again and for the first time.
All images via Kelsey Butler Photography