If you’re 23 and still living at home, you’re not alone, and it’s perfectly normal. Due to such an increase in tuition and student loans, many are forced to stay home for college or move back into their parents’ homes after graduating.
After I graduated high school, I decided to stay home for college for a couple of reasons. One was financial–I chose a university that gave me the most aid, which that turned out to be a lie. Two–I didn’t have a car or license, so I choose my university also because of its convenience. And three, I didn’t feel ready to leave home. I am the oldest and didn’t want to miss my younger siblings grow up and go through high school.
Overall, I felt like I made the right decision to stay home for college and do not regret it at all. However, I do feel like I missed some experiences of dorming and being on my own, and feel a little jealous of my siblings who get to have the experiences I missed.
It goes without saying that I am beyond proud of my twin siblings who are off at Franciscan University and having these experiences I never had, but I also somewhat envy them. It’s far easier to gain independence when you’re literally on your own.
Why Gaining Independence is Important to Me
Like my friends in college, I wanted to go out whenever or go wherever I wanted. This was hard because I couldn’t drive, and I still had to respect my parents’ curfew as I was living under their roof.
I struggled with gaining independence but pushed through. I knew it was important for me to grow and learn and that I would eventually be living on my own. Just like all young adults, we want to be able to call the shots of our life and feel like we should be able to by at least 21 years old.
To me, gaining independence meant I could feel confident in being able to live on my own and make my own decisions about what to do with my time. However, it took me a long time to remotely gain any form of independence.
My Struggle with Gaining Independence
Is anybody out there the oldest sibling? If you are, you likely feel the struggle of having to pave the way for your younger siblings to thrive. We are our parents’ firstborn, their pride and joy, but they don’t want to see us grow up! We are the first ones to grow, and most of the time, parents are not ready for the change, and sometimes neither are we.
I come from a Hispanic background, and family is very important. We live within five minutes of my aunt and uncle, as well as my grandparents. When something happens in our family, everyone knows about it. I am so grateful to be a part of a loving family, but families, especially Hispanic ones, always have an opinion about everything.
Living at home meant rules that I otherwise wouldn’t have if I were away at college–having to tell my parents where I was going out, with who, and keep them updated felt childish as I was 20 years old. I felt the need to ask for permission to go places for a long time. All of this wasn’t necessarily my parents’ fault, but it was simply the fact that I was still at home where I was taught I needed to respect all these rules.
I remember making the tough transition from being a teenager to a young adult. As a teenager, I made mistakes that caused my parents to lose trust in me, therefore putting certain rules in place. But as I grew and changed, the trust my parents had towards me changed.
It wasn’t until I sat down with my parents and expressed that I was growing up and becoming a better person that the door to independence opened. Unaware of it, and learning as well, my parents were holding onto their little girl. While they didn’t fear I’d leave them, as I am still at home and still in their lives, they mostly feared, as all parents do, that I would fail or get hurt being all on my own. This feeling was even stronger for me, their first child.
Honestly, I did not feel “ready” to be on my own until I was about 21. Nobody ever feels “ready” to start life on their own, and many don’t even have the choice–they get thrown into life on their own. I feel blessed to have a home I am tethered to, though I also went through my own hurdles to become more independent.
Now at 23, I desire to have my own place and start my own life. I’m glad, after a couple of years of learning, my parents know I am an independent woman who can thrive on her own when the time comes.
Why am I still at home? As I mentioned above, there are student loans, and I am still studying for my master’s degree. I don’t have a full-time salary yet to be able to live on my own, especially down here in Miami, where the cost of living is very high. The majority of my friends find themselves in similar situations. Living at home in your 20s is no longer as embarrassing as it used to be–but let’s try and move out by 29, lol.
How to Gain Independence
If you find yourself in a situation similar to mine or are a parent of a young adult, these are simply my suggestions on how to approach your independence.
As I said above, it wasn’t until I expressed my need to feel more independent that I actually started to gain it. I am a strong advocate for communication and believe it is the key to having a good relationship with anybody. It’s best to express your feelings as a growing young adult and as a parent watching your child grow. Also, don’t be afraid to ask parents for advice. They went through their 20s, too!
I was looking to be able to independently go out and not feel the need to ask permission, so I started small by telling my parents everything they wanted to know (where I was going, with who, what time would I come home) before they asked. I also started small, going places I knew they would approve of.
Show You’re Responsible
Then, this next part is important. I did exactly what I told them I was going to do! If I said I was going out and coming home at 11, I came back at 11. Once they started to see I was being responsible, they felt less of a need to ask me about my whereabouts. If you want independence, you have to be responsible for yourself.
Hone Your Domestic Skills
Being at home now is the perfect time to learn how to cook, clean, and do laundry with no worries. You can easily ask your parents for help when you don’t know when the chicken is cooked all the way–that’s me. Or you can come up with your own meal plan to buy your own food and cook it. This gives your parents more of a reason to see you are independent and capable.
Make a Plan
Even if you don’t know what your career path will be, like me, start thinking of a financial and job plan for when the time to move out happens. Get a job just to start saving up and pay off some loans. This again shows responsibility. Having a plan not only shows your parents you’re independent but also gives yourself the confidence to become independent. When I started making my own money and looking towards career paths, I became more confident in my ability and skills to be independent.
As I steadily approach the beginning of life on my own, I become nervous yet excited. Recently, my boyfriend has been pointing out things we’re going to have to do when we would eventually be living on our own. For example, what would I do if the air conditioning broke in my home or how would I handle buying all the groceries on my own, all things I’ve recently experienced.
So, reader, if you’re going through a similar experience, as a young adult or parent of one, let me know! I’d love to hear how you’re doing, and if you want any more advice or someone to listen, I’m always here for you! I love you!
You are fearfully and wonderfully made.”Psalm 139:14