Coming Home: why living with your parents after college isn't so terrible.

College graduation came with two extremes: the high of accomplishment and the low of great uncertainty. After living seemingly independently for four years, how could one return to the same dwelling of embarrassing adolescent years?

As graduation quickly approached, my optimal plans dwindled just as rapidly. There was disappointment from turned down internships in New York. Venturing out to LA to become an artist/waitress just wasn’t feasible. My personal plan including marriage, moving to Austin and pursing my masters to teach, shattered with it’s share of heartache. Moving back home to my humble beginnings in Miramar, Florida was not even plan Z in my mind. I failed to realize then how incredibly thankful I would be over two years later that my plans didn't come to pass, because a greater plan did. 

As quickly as we turned the tassel, I found myself nudging my belongings tightly into the garage of my parent’s home. With much resistance, I returned to my hometown; a city which never quite felt like home to me. I often scrutinized, focused on the ugly, loud, and harsh of the urban south Florida environment. Traveling the same roads which I once rode my bike and learned how to drive a car, seemed to bring back negative imagery of painful memories from my youth. However, returning forced me to seek out the beauty in the imperfections and eventually cherish it. The same can be applied when moving back in with your family. 

You are not alone. Roughly 45% of college grads move back in with mom and dad. Despite what your Facebook newsfeed tells you, you are not the only one. Relax in the reassurance that your situation is not unheard of, nor will it last forever. We’re going through this together. Stop comparing yourself to friends who are married, starting their own families or the ones who are ever too busy with their career advancements. Find friends who share the same priorities and are experiencing the same chapter in life. Read from their past experiences, like mine, I’m here to encourage you!

Time to accept. This does not mean become complacent in your current position. This is the time to pursue your dreams more than ever. Don’t be afraid to fail; you have a support system backing you. When you’re figuring out your future, what better place to do so than in the comfort of your family. In case you haven’t already realized- they want the best for you. The greatest joy in their life is to see you happy and fulfilled. Those habits or characteristics of your family which once irritated you to no end; its time to accept them. In fact, embrace it. I know we hear it often, but, I can’t stress enough: cherish the time you have with your family now. You will miss this time, during the periods when you only see loved ones by flying home for the holidays. We take for granted the time with our family during our teen years with it’s fair share of “I’m out of here when I turn eighteen!” moments. For the first time in our lives we can glean from our parents, as one adult to another. View dad and mom as your mentors, closest friends, and biggest supporters.

Time to prepare. Most likely, you don’t have to worry about rent. You now have the benefit of working to pay off student loans, or save up for your own place. Develop management skills for your finances and time before you enter into the responsibilities owning your own home. Learn from a pro. Nothing says ‘wife material’ like a woman who's cooking is just as good as her mother’s. I’ve learned to serve my family just as my mother has all my life. Learn to be a servant to your family, not a squatter, during your time of free home-cooked meals. Instead of longing for the past where my household duties consisted of cooking for myself and cleaning after myself, I’ve embraced this training for the day I have a family. What better way to say thank you to your parents for the lifetime they have cared for you, than to serve them?

Build & restore relationships. Living with my mom again caused misunderstandings to be mended and barriers were torn away. Our mother-daughter bond is stronger now than ever. I can proudly say she is my best friend. We recently took a road trip to Savannah, Georgia just the two of us. We wandered through the historic district and enjoyed the vintage/antique shopping. The unforgettable experiences we shared, and lessons I continue to learn from her, I will carry with me into the future. Share an activity or hobby with mom or dad. You never know, they may enjoy it as well. These are truly once in a life time opportunities with your family. I may have missed out on the opportunity to have such a close bond with my mother had I not returned home. I would’ve truly regretted that later in life. View dad and mom as your mentors, closest friends, and biggest supporters. 

A lifelong student. Although our schooling may have ended, we should never cease to be scholars. Create a summer reading list that you would enjoy. Perhaps reread books that were assigned to you in college. I guarantee you will discover something new this time around. You don’t have to go by a professors syllabus anymore, instead create deadlines for your own creative projects or writings. Continue to develop your gifts. Challenge yourself to read material daily that will further assist your growth in your chosen field.  Develop a plan for growth as found in Self Improvement 101 & Leadership Principles for Graduates by John C. Maxwell. Instead of sinking into post-grad sadness, I suggest reading one of those encouraging books. Keep a journal with inspirational quotes and helpful points to turn back to often. 

A new routine. The void of schedules can actually become stressful. For the many post grads in search of employment, it becomes an easy habit waking of up at 12 pm on a weekday and grabbing a bowl of cereal to watch a marathon of your favorite show on Netflix. Just as we once had class schedules, create a daily schedule for yourself. Set your alarm, and although tempting, don’t hit that snooze button. There are gifts in you longing to be poured out. Inventions in your mind in need of creating. You may be the next award winning writer, successful entrepreneur, or a leader of this nation. The world is earnestly awaiting people of this generation to rise up and take their place, using what God has placed within you to influence, impact and cause change. What you choose to do today, will determine that outcome.  

The constant in life. Sometimes life can change so rapidly, other times you're counting down the seconds in hopes the day on the calendar will change. Whichever season you're in, take a deep breath, and a mental (or physical) pictures of your current surroundings, environment, and situation because one day, sooner or later, this will all change. 

As a college graduate, filmmaker, writer, actor, artist, entrepreneur, teacher, leader, dreamer and doer, living at home with her parents, (and pet bunny), I am absolutely cherishing it. Change is quickly approaching. I don’t want to miss this moment. Neither should you.  

- Jennifer Joy O.