High school is a time of uncertainty, a time when you begin to truly discover “who you are” and put the finishing touches on a transition into adulthood. Truth be told, when I was in high school I didn’t know where I was going to go for college, what I was going to study when I got there, how I was going to pay for it or a plethora of other mundane details that come with budding adulthood. But there was one thing of which I was certifiably certain: I wasn’t going to move home after I graduated.
Now, a little less than two months after graduating, my bags are packed and I’m homeward bound.
There’s always been a stigma surrounding the boomerang college student. When you hear of someone who moved back in with their parents after graduating you immediately think of a guy in a white tank top covered in the remnants of several microwavable meals who calls the basement his “bachelor pad” so often you begin to question whether he’s joking or not. Don’t deny it.
Then there’s the other implication of moving back home: That of defeat. Sure, you gave the job market the ol’ college try, but you just weren’t good enough to land yourself that sweet slice of employment independence. So you scurried back home, tail between your legs, immediately donned a tank top and dedicated yourself to watching the original run of “Star Trek” in its entirety.
That fear of failure rings particularly true for me. As a proud boy of Flagstaff, I had the opportunity to attend Northern Arizona University for next to nothing. I could have lived at home for free and assured myself that, no matter how tough things got, there would always be a pantry to raid. But, like teenagers are wont to do, I rebelled. With both a sister and a mother at NAU, I had to break out on my own, not only to show them I could do it, but to prove it to myself. Being an adult meant facing the challenges that accompany independence, and I was eager to go to Tucson and face them, head-on.
It certainly wasn’t always easy. Heck, I almost transferred back to NAU after my first semester. There was the time my meal plan ran out with two months left my freshman year and I had to survive in large part on Pop-Tarts and the occasional whole, rotisserie chicken when I could scrounge together the money. Then there was the time(s) I had to sell plasma and put almost all of my electronics on E-Bay to pay rent. I worked three jobs, and Hot ‘n Ready’s were manna from heaven.
Every decision I made, difficult as it might have been, was necessary to avoid a very tank toppy future. And after graduating, I was finally able to breathe a sigh of relief. I had done it.
Of course, then I remembered I majored in journalism and those easy sighs turned into hyperventilation.
Granted, I’m not alone in this mom-and-pop-ward migration. According to a recent study, as many as 85 percent of recent graduates will move home after they graduate, a statistic made all the more realistic when considering the fact that 53 percent of recent grads are unemployed or working a job that doesn’t require a bachelor’s degree. Let’s be frank, that picture wouldn’t be rosy even if you looked at it through rose-colored glasses.
But, as with most things, perspective is everything. After all, I could not have a home to go back to, or not have a mother who was so understanding, or a sister who had already done the same thing thereby guaranteeing I could do it, too. Sure, maybe I end up washing dishes at a diner, or giving disingenuous welcomes at Wal-Mart, but at least I have a family that supports me, and a group of friends who won’t tease me too much. About this at least.
And, if all else fails, I still won’t end up like the prototypical move-back-homer. I don’t even own a tank top.