Sammy Nickalls
March 28, 2015 6:00 am

I graduated from college in May of last year. After four years of living with my college roomies in the suburbs of Philly, I packed up my stuff and headed back home.

And I’ve been there since.

Occasionally, some college acquaintances will hit me up and ask what I’m up to. “I’m a freelance writer,” I say, which will often prompt them to ask if I’m located in NYC. Nope—good ol’ Lebanon, PA, in the middle of nowhere, I explain.

“Oh,” they respond, with some surprise. “What brings you there?”

“My parents,” I say.

That’s often met with an incredibly awkward pause. And I get that. I mean, I’m going to turn 23 at the beginning of next month, and I don’t have my own place. I certainly have my own doubts about my situation as well. Shouldn’t I be starting my life as the quirky 20-something woman in a sitcom? Even if I don’t have a *ton* of money, isn’t that the romance of it—scraping by on rent, trying to make my dreams come true all alone in the big city? (Never mind the fact that I’m TOTALLY not a city person, but still.)

Instead, I’m still sleeping in my old bedroom, which is still bright purple from my questionable life choices at age 13. I’m still eating dinner with my parents and younger brother. I’m not buying my own groceries or worrying about my landlord or picking out furniture at Ikea. After four years of college, it feels like I’ve reverted back to my high school years, minus the seven hours spent in school and plus the countless hours trying to figure out what exactly I’m doing in this thing called post-graduate life.

This wasn’t always my plan. In fact, when I graduated, I planned on moving out by the end of the summer. I was going to move in with a few roomies and my then-boyfriend. It made sense—I wanted to be close to Philadelphia, and I had a full-time job as a content manager for a health and wellness website, making 40k a year. It seemed like the sensible next step.

They call millennials “the boomerang generation.” In fact, as of 2012, 3 in 10 people, between the ages of 25 and 34, live at home. And there’s an unfortunate stigma attached to that which can often make people who live at home post-college feel ashamed of themselves.

But what’s so great about moving out before you’re ready?

I thought I was ready. I thought I had everything figured out. But shocker: I didn’t. All of my plans to move out totally fell through. . .and I’m relieved that they did.

Why? Because not even a year since I graduated, I’ve quit my steady job to be a (not-so-steady) freelancer writer, I’ve broken up with the boyfriend with whom I had been previously planning on staying with for life, and I have absolutely no desire to live in Philadelphia anymore. If I would have followed through with my efforts to live away from home, I’d be in a city I don’t care about, trying to make a totally broken relationship work, all while becoming resentful of my dream because I wouldn’t be making me enough money to pay my student loans, car payments, and rent combined.

If you’re in a position to live alone, and you know what path you want to head down, that’s great. But it’s also just as great to be living at home with your parents while you get back up on your feet and figure out what path to choose, instead of blindly heading down the path you feel pressured to go down. Sure, you’ve graduated from college. But guess what? You’re expected to pay off your college loans, and you’ve just started working in the real world. Oh, yeah, and you’re in a pretty crap economy.

That sounds like a super depressing reality, but it’s not. It’s proof that you shouldn’t be expected to take that massive first stride out of the nest if your wings aren’t sturdy enough to fly.

Not ready to live alone? It’s OK: you’re taking life at your own pace. Appreciate those homemade dinners while they last. Work hard and save up, but don’t feel like you need to conform to some ideal sitcom life. Don’t let anyone make you feel like you’re failing.

Your perfect apartment in your dream city will be there for you when you’re ready. You got this. . .and you’re going to rock it. In the meantime, be grateful that you’re parents are there to help you. 

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