Welcome Home: College Grads and Their New Reality

By now most college grads are near the end of riding the high of graduation. Your parents threw you a party to celebrate your accomplishment, you’re almost done emptying out your plastic drawers that so nicely decorated your dorm/apartment, and you’re desperately seeking a job that’ll be your lifelong career. But more frightening than anything else is your new reality, moving back in with your family. Panic. Ok now chill the fuck out. I know how it feels, I’ve been there. You’ll make it through of this I’m certain. I’m heading into year three living at home, I’m still breathing, heart’s still beating. It doesn’t go on without some struggle though. So I’ll tell you what I’ve learned, sacrificed, and benefitted while living at home the past 2+ years since I graduated from Quinnipiac University way back when in May 2012.

Let’s start with the bad…

Watchful Eyes. I’m lucky that I don’t have strict parents. I pretty much come and go as I please. I stroll in sometimes at 5 am and other days I’m in bed by 9 pm. It’s never an issue where I go, what time I come home, or who I’m with. But they’re watching. It still bothers me that there’s people in the house I come home to and they know my ins and outs. Get used to a lack of privacy and make yourself comfortable with the idea of transparency because even if they aren’t confronting you about it, their eyes are always watching and your old folks are sharper than you think. My mom will always hit me with the, “I heard you coming upstairs right before my alarm went off for work.” Translation: “You came home at the time I was waking up for work, wtf were you doing out at that time?” Just set guidelines from the beginning by not giving too many details about your whereabouts. The less you tell them initially, the less they expect to know.

Finding Food . The biggest fight I have in my house is over leftovers. Just the other day I hadn’t eaten the pizza my mom bought the night before. The next day I daydreamed about that pizza all damn day and was really looking forward to getting home after a long day at work and just heating up my slices and filling up my tummy. Instead, I got home to find the empty pizza box in the garbage. If you don’t hide the food you want to eat, someone else will eat it. It’s every man for himself in a family kitchen, so lock up your goods if you’re going to want it later.

Quiet Your Questions. Although I don’t deal with strict parents, their conversational questions are what still make living home painfully different than my four years away at college. My parents don’t mean to be intrusive when they ask me where I’m going as I’m walking out of the house, but even so, it’s frustrating. For four years, I was used to getting up and walking out my front door without that question being asked on my way out. I’m always honest about what I’m doing because like I said, I have pretty chill parents, but it still gets under my skin, that little extra step of saying, “I’m going out with the girls.” Again, keep your responses vague if you don’t want them expecting to know your every move.

Now for the good stuff…

Mo’ Home Mo’ Money. It’s expensive out there in the real world. Rent money, utilities, groceries, and dare I say, cable. Living with your parents gives you the amenities and comforts of living in a home without paying the hefty bills. Yeah they might ask for a tiny rent payment, help with a bill, or to throw them some grocery money, but you’re not paying alladat by yourself. It’s a load off your shoulders and allows you to save money so when it is time to leave the nest, you have a nice cushy emergency fund and some mula to furnish your new place.

Home Cooking. I can cook, if I wanted to. I’m the only one in my house whose job and school is in NYC, so I commute what consumes a good chunk of time everyday. The last thing I want to do is cook after all that traveling back and forth. Luckily most days of the week, my mom has a home-cooked Puerto Rican meal on the stovetop. My tummy thanks her each time. I’m also vegetarian, the only one at my mom’s house, and she’s always so kind to provide a vegetarian option in the meal. She even stopped putting jamón in her beans. Just for me! Those little things you won’t get anywhere but home. And my stepdad makes everyone coffee in bed on occasion during the weekends, and I’m thankful.

Sobering Siblings. When I first went away to school, my sister was too young for us to bond over life. By the time I moved back, she was in her last year of middle school prepping for high school. She’s 15 now and she’s honestly my best friend. AKC, as everyone knows her, keeps me grounded and her advice is so on point. Now that she’s a teenager, we have real conversations and she’s funny as shit. Because my mom has a demanding job, I find myself doing a lot for my sister and it’s brought us closer together. I’ve even asked my mom if when I do finally move out, she’d consider letting my sister come live with me.

Livin’ With Love. There’s a lot of bumps and bruises on the path to greatness. Sometimes you get discouraged and feel like giving up, that’s when that warm loving place you live totally comes in the clutch. When I moved home from college I had no idea what I was going to do with my life. I was dealing with some health problems and personal heartache. Some days I couldn’t get out of bed, I’d just lay there and cry wondering if all the success I dreamed about was even attainable or if I’d been kidding myself my whole life. Those were the days my mom and dad held me up. Their words of encouragement and wisdom, their patience, and attentive listening were exactly what was needed for me to get my shit together. With their help I cleared my mind, dusted off the anxiety, and pursued my goals. If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t have applied to NYU for my masters, and I wouldn’t be so close to achieving all I’ve ever wanted. The love of parents cannot be replaced. And that’s worth all the other little hassles of living with them.