Make no mistake: I am exceptionally lucky and know it. I’m lucky to have two parents who have loved and supported me in every possible way for the past 23 years. I’m lucky to be employed, to have a place to come home to (rent-free, usually with dinner on the table), and in infinitely more ways. A good portion of my consciousness is dedicated to marveling at my privilege, and 100 percent of my existence is dedicated to being a person who makes the most of that good fortune and helps people who may have drawn different numbers.
Acknowledging that good fortune, however, doesn’t negate some of the internal conflicts—not to mention logistical difficulties—of living at home a year out of college. Most prominently, there’s that often-discussed, in-between feeling of being 23: out of college, but not quite an adult. That contrast is only exacerbated when living at home. No matter how independent I am in my career, I come home to my mom and dad (and younger brother) every day. Whom I love, and frankly, love living with. Which brings me to another problem: I’m comfortable. Very comfortable. Possibly too comfortable.
How could I not be comfortable living in the house that I grew up in, sleeping in the room I grew up in, surrounded by the people who raised me? Sometimes it feels like the semi-independence I gained in college has been completely destroyed. It hasn’t, I know. But in many ways, I’ve fallen back into high school mode: I no longer do my own laundry. I put my dry cleaning in a pile of my dad’s suits and in a week or so it returns to me, perfectly pressed. I help as much as I can, but there’s a certain way the house you were raised in has always been run, and your return isn’t going to change that. It’s that type of thing that makes me feel both comfortable and pathetic. I’m not, I know. I work my butt off, seven days a week. I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing in my year living at home: saving money. That’s a good feeling.
But on the other side of the coin, there’s my laundry appearing in piles in my room. There’s the driveway that’s shoveled when I get home. Everywhere I look is the reminder: No, you’re not an adult, no matter how much you want to be. You’re a child, and worse, you like it. I love my family, I love being around them. I always have. What’s my impetus to leave? Does not being compelled to move out make me pathetic?
There’s one major impetus. Commuting almost two hours each way to work is an isolating experience, or at least I find it to be. My dad has done it for twenty years, but he’s a self-described “lone wolf.” I am not. I crave human interaction. We, the recent college graduates of America, just spent four years surrounded by ourselves—our fellow college students, always doing something, always chattering, always learning something new. Waking up, getting dressed, driving to the train station, sitting on the train for an hour, sitting on the subway for twenty minutes, then walking to the office without talking to another soul is a lonely, at times depressing endeavor. Maybe it’s the weather. Maybe I’m in a funk. Maybe I’ll get used to it. Maybe I need to start looking for apartments.
With faux sympathy but mostly disdain people ask, “You live with your parents?” “You commute two hours?” “So like…what do you do on the weekends?” “Do you even go out in the city?” “Why don’t you move?” “You should really move.” No, it doesn’t suck, I say. I’m saving money, I say. I actually love living with my family, I say. I’m really lucky, I say. Leave me alone, I think.
But at the end of the day facing a two-hour commute and work for a second job when I get home, it’s tough to say yes to going out for drinks or to any other spontaneous event. I just don’t have it in me to get home at 11:00 and wake up at 6:00 to do it all over again. I really can’t bring myself to say yes to commuting back into the city to do something on a weekend. Sometimes, it’s tough not to just give in to feeling lonely. It’s tough to feel like a full-fledged adult. It’s tough not to feel like a full-fledged adult.