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Who Says You Can't Go Home?

Posted: 12/13/08 05:37 PM ET

Despite having the appearance of a generally enjoyable life (steady job, steady boyfriend, steady apartment), I find myself unable to sleep at least three times a week, often clutching Snuffles, my childhood stuffed animal, freaking out about the timeless question "What am I doing with my life?"

In a ongoing email chain I have with girlfriends from college, our updates are peppered with musings about a general lack of satisfaction in our lives, whether it is because of jobs, relationships, social life or anything else. As a potential solution, we've all admitted to wanting to move back home, at least for a little while.

Actually, I know very few people who are truly happy with their post-college lives. But, as much as I want to conveniently use the term "quarterlife crisis," it's not what's going on. There is no crisis. Being well-educated but confused is hardly the end of the world: we have no kids, we have no mortgages and chances are, our childhood beds in our parents' house still have clean sheets on them, just in case. And, perhaps for good reason.

Since graduating from college nearly two years ago, I speak to my parents on a more-regular basis, typically to seek advice about how to be a functioning adult. I call them about everything, whether it is for serious insight about my job or knowing what humidifier to buy. My friends have all somehow re-attached themselves to their parents as well, ranging from talking to their mothers three times a day, or going home way more often than we ever thought to in college.

We don't know what rock bottom feels like, yet somehow we're convinced that we're never going to find the perfect anything.

It's Puberty 2.0 (version 1.0 didn't include alcohol): mood swings, angst and life-is-so-unfair sentiments. In this version though, we don't have our parents to lash out against, so instead a lot of us are begging for their help.

We went through our teens thinking that our parents just didn't understand--they were sooooo unfair and ohmygod did my dad really just ring the doorbell at my friend's house? I told him to wait in the car!!

As I got ready for college, I was thrilled that I would no longer be living in the boring suburbs, because I could finally prove how independent I truly was (ha--now I can't even purchase blinds without asking my mom). Our imagined success is always greater than the success we actually achieve, especially right after college. Thus, there is a second acclimation process going on now, where the notion of being able to do anything and be anyone--something that we have been told since day 0--is being challenged.

I'm shocked about how many people I know who are seriously considering going back home, and not just for financial reasons. We miss the invisible shield of our parents' home, whether it was the simple comfort of a regular dinner time or the quiet hum of a laundry machine. We aren't as mature as we thought we were; we're just a bunch of grown-up children looking for someone to tell us that everything is going to be okay.

Just as our acne and pit stains subsided and our braces were removed, this too will pass (or so I'm told). But, until it does, we'll be searching for a lot of answers about the rest of our lives and the only way to find them seems to be reverting back to the past, even though what we probably need is actual progress into the future. So, mom, if you see me on your doorstep soon, please welcome me back and make sure my bed is made. Don't worry, I brought Snuffles with me.

 

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