Like a lot of disgruntled teens, I saw college as a chance to run away to a big city and build my own life. I left a tiny town to attend school in San Francisco and immediately fell in love with my new home and independence.
It was wonderful to have the opportunity to grow up on my own terms. With my parents over 400 miles away, there was no one around to lecture me about my dive bar-hopping, serial dating or penchant for solo adventures around the city. I was happily freelancing as a photographer and journalist, meeting celebrities and documenting protests around my class schedule. I had convinced myself that I could find full-time work after I graduated.
No one (besides me) was surprised when I moved back home a few months after I moved my tassel. As it turns out, rent is pretty expensive in San Francisco and freelancing couldn't always cover the bills. I was so worried about feeding myself and putting a roof over my head, I wasn’t pursuing the kind of work I aspired to do. Constantly fighting to survive was exhausting.
Transitioning back home wasn’t easy, though my family respected my need for independence. The main change is the shift in power dynamics. My parents recognize that they can make requests of me, but I have the right to say no. With that said, I also recognize that my parents would be completely justified if they wanted to kick me out, though they seem happy to have me back while I launch my career.
There have been a few awkward moments, like when I casually mentioned I’d be sleeping at my boyfriend’s house, but their respect for me as an adult person- not just as their kid- has preserved our relationship. A big part of growing up is recognizing your parents are people too and acting on that. Moving home is not an excuse to regress to your younger self. You may be under your parent’s roof again and feeling the strain of losing some of your autonomy, but if you act like an adult, you can find some harmony with the people who helped raise you.