I ‘moved out’ of my family home to go to university when I was 18. Yes, I came back at the end of each term and year but the general consensus was that I was officially an ‘adult.’ Or at least that is how I felt. Roll on three years at Warwick, an undergraduate degree in Classical Civilisations and where was I at the end of it? Back home, clutching my piece of paper that is my degree like a lifeline and hoping to the ‘powers that be’ that I would secure a job and once again move to pastures new.
Guess what- that didn’t happen.
Instead I secured a job in the local area for a year as a Graduate Assistant, made some amazing friends and some not so amazing friends. But all the while I was still living at home under the auspices of my parent’s roof. But, fast forward one year I was once again moving out and ready to start my Masters in Edinburgh. This time I was certain that I wouldn’t be moving home at the end of it. Once again however plans went awry and by the time I finished by postgrad and decided to travel, 2020 decided to rear its rather difficult head. With Covid 19 in full swing, the only place to go was right back into the parental home.
At first, I was really embarrassed to be living at home at the age of 23. Combined with the fact that I was ragingly unemployed and the job market was very thin due to Covid, I honestly felt like the biggest failure. I have always wanted to make my parents proud and I felt like I was doing the opposite. My brother, successfully ensconced in Gozo did nothing to alleviate my fears that I was regressing, not moving forwards. I also felt bad for my parents that I had come back into a space that they had got so used to being in without kids.
But as the lockdown got stricter, we all became aware that we were in this for the long haul and in it together.
At the beginning, my employment status was the source of huge arguments as was the fact I was consuming most of my mum’s favourite ‘Crunchie’ bars. Arguments were also had over the fact that I view myself as an adult and therefore outside of their sphere of control. I viewed my decisions as my own, they viewed them as their business. All in all, at the beginning it was a struggle as we are three very large personalities with a lot of stubbornness thrown in for extra drama.
But slowly and surely, we entered into a state of lockdown equilibrium where we all realised that we could get along and live together in relative harmony as adults. The more in control I felt of my decisions, applications and choices, the more secure my parents felt that the future could and would be bright for my career and life plans. Slowly the disagreements receded into the mists of early lockdown panic and transitioned into light hearted arguments about what we all wanted to watch on TV. Peace was restored and we all realised how much enjoyment we get from each other’s company. I also began to realise that in moving home I have been blessed. So many people have had worries over flats, where to go and how to pay the rent. I know for a fact that without my parents support I wouldn’t be able to afford to live anywhere at all at the moment. By being forced to move home I have been given a lifeline in more ways than one as my parents have let me explore previously unexplored career avenues and choices that wouldn’t have been possible without lockdown.
The embarrassment at living at home also receded as I began to realise that living at home in your twenties is more common than you think- and increasingly necessary in today’s climate. Look at London for example, as a young adult if you live in London, it is almost impossible to leave home and continue to live in the city. The rent is sky high and for most people, living at home is preferable to a £800 a room house share.
The more friends I spoke to, the more I realised that I was not being judged for living at home and that I was no less an ‘adult’ than the rest of them. It made me realise though that the stigma of living at home is still prevalent and still something that needs to be addressed. No one should feel any less about themselves purely because they live at home. You aren’t a failure if you have had to pack up your belongings and move home – trust me I have been there, done that and got the T-shirt multiple times! Living at home, especially at the moment, should be increasingly normalised in my opinion.
To anyone reading this who may feel like they are a failure etc- you are not any less an adult for still sharing a space with your parents, nor does this make you a failure.
To anyone reading this who has moved home and is struggling with the changes – please know that you are not alone and that you can do it and get through it. It isn’t permanent, it’s not forever even though it feels like it sometimes. If you are struggling, please reach out, please don’t suffer in silence.
We are in this together- all of us x