I know, I know, you probably looked at the title of this post and rolled your eyes. Not another millennial sob story, you might have thought to yourself. But then, you decided to click in and read more (or you wouldn’t be reading this right now). Why? Because something in you was curious about why on Earth I’d move back home to my parents’ house when I was 25, employed and making a good income.
And life sometimes throws you more than a corporate job and a six-figure income can fix.
This post is part of my “Baggage” series, a short set of personal posts where I detail the stories that brought me to my year-long career break, and explain why I’m avoiding going back to the corporate world for as long as possible. You can find the other “Baggage” posts here:
- Part 1: I’m a 25 Year Old Corporate Dropout
- Part 2: Freedom vs. Financial Independence: Why They’re Not Always the Same Thing
- Part 3: 5 Things I Learned from Moving Back Home With My Parents (this post)
Some Background: Why Did I Move Back Home?
From an Ambitious College Grad…
I was once just like every other wide-eyed college grad, entering into the world of management consulting. With a salary higher than I’d ever earned in my life and colleagues who I admired for their smarts and professionalism, I thought I was on top of the world. But then, after a series of difficult cases and a harassment issue with a very senior executive, I decided that the job wasn’t for me.
Then, I moved to Washington, DC, far away from my long-term boyfriend and my college friends, but very close to my mom, who lives in the DC suburbs. I took my dream job at an amazing organization that I’d always admired (and that you probably admire, too). I got a fancy, central apartment within walking distance of downtown DC. Again, I had that “on top of the world” feeling that I experienced when I first started working. But unfortunately, this is where things really started to go downhill.
You can read all about it here, but basically, I caught a bad case of situational depression.
…To A Millennial Who Needed Help
Now, before you scoff and close this window, I want to encourage you to try and understand where I (and millions of other depression sufferers) am coming from.
As I spiraled downward into the darkness of my depression, I needed my family’s support more than ever. I opened up to certain friends about wanting to die, and they either laughed and told me to get over it or straight up ignored my messages when I needed help. My family (and my boyfriend, who lived far away at the time) was essentially the only group of people who tried to offer their love and support while I was struggling.
Eventually, I realized that I needed to get help ASAP. Part of that was through therapy, but part of it was cutting my losses, finding a subletter for my apartment, and moving home so I wouldn’t do anything I’d regret. I began to make plans to depart my job at the one-year mark and take a much-needed career break. To pay for it, I figured I’d need to save ~$30,000 for 12 months. Moving home seemed like the most logical choice when my world was filled with chaos and grief, so I took the opportunity with excitement.
When I decided to move, my mom and I struck a deal: I (along with my boyfriend) would completely renovate the basement bedroom (a $3,000-4,000 value, if done by contractors) in exchange for not paying rent. We donned our old clothes, picked up the tools from a nearby store, and got to renovating the basement.
Moving Home Was Complicated
As you can imagine, moving home wasn’t glamorous. But it worked out pretty well, because I was too depressed to see my friends anymore and I knew I could save a lot of money by not paying rent.
While I was home, my family checked in on me frequently and made sure I was eating properly (because literally while I was depressed sometimes I’d go days eating only bread and cheese or microwave meals). My mom’s house was like a safe haven where the demands of terrible bosses and cold shoulders didn’t dare go.
Having to explain to people why I was moving, though, was challenging. A lot of “friends” would give me disparaging looks and turn up their noses when I told them I was moving home. For health reasons, I’d always say. That seemed to be the only statement other people had any amount of sympathy toward.
Despite all of its minor misgivings, moving home was the best decision I made for myself this year. It was my first step on my way to freedom. I learned a lot from making this decision: skills and lessons that will accompany me through the rest of my life.
5 Things I Learned From Moving Back In With My Parents
1. I’m Incredibly Lucky My Mom Took Me In
It’s a HUGE privilege that I was able to move back home, rent free, to my mom’s house. I recognize that not everyone has this luxury. At the time, I didn’t see it as a luxury because I was really suffering. But now, I realize that it took a lot of sifting through moving parts to make this all happen.
Without her support, I don’t know where I’d be today. When I think back to those dark days, a lump forms in my throat and I can feel my body regressing into panic mode again. I remember staring at the metro every morning, wanting to jump in front of it, but ultimately deciding not to because I didn’t want people to be late for work. My mom’s timely welcome into her home was everything I needed to get on the road to recovery.
2. I Was Able to Achieve My Personal & Financial Goals a Lot Faster
At the time when I moved home, my BIGGEST financial goal was to save enough “F-You Money” to take a much-needed career break. When I moved home, I had a healthy retirement balance and about $22,000 in savings. My 4 months at home enabled me to put away over $8,000 to finish up saving for my year-long career break. If I hadn’t moved home when I did, it would have taken a LOT longer to save up for my career break.
Aside from my financial goals, moving home helped me achieve my personal ones, too. I had strict goals I set for myself to recover from my bout of depression, build and grow my website, impress my supervisors at work, and plan my next 6 months of travel. Being at home gave me a distraction-free environment to focus on myself, with the (non-overbearing) support of my family.
3. I Had to Build Strong Routines
Moving home to my mom’s in the suburbs meant that I needed to create a lot more discipline for myself than when I could simply roll out of bed at 8 and be in the office by 8:30. I had to take two metro lines into work, which usually took anywhere from 45 minutes to over an hour from door to door.
Creating these routines actually helped me get out of bed in the morning when I was otherwise feeling very depressed. It was like these habits went on complete autopilot. Learning to build strong habits has helped me TONS since leaving the corporate world, and I’m glad that it was a skill I was able to develop before I took off.
4. If It’s Not a Big Deal, It’s Not a Big Deal
When I decided to move home, I thought my life would be totally flipped around. And while my depression situation did improve, business actually just went on as usual. I tried not to treat my move home as a big deal, and it didn’t become one. The more natural I felt about moving home, the more naturally it came.
Sometimes friends would ask me about my living situation, and I’d tell them honestly instead of skirting the issue. I didn’t treat it like a big deal with them, and they didn’t make it a big deal themselves (at least not in front of me). The point is, the more I got into the mentality of “it’s not a big deal,” the more others followed suit.
5. There Are More Important Things in Life Than Following the Norm
People are probably going to tell you that moving home is “disgraceful” or “immature.” They might make fun of you or give you hard time about continuing to live with your parents. But you know what? What “the norm” looks like for them might not be your norm. In the Philippines, where my family is from, people live with their parents sometimes until their mid-30s.
Anyway, what does it matter what other people think?
When I told people at work that I was having a really hard time, most people told me to suck it up. Well, if I’d actually taken their advice, where would I be right now? Probably stuck in the same miserable hell-hole I was in earlier this year, or worse. I’d probably still be severely depressed, surrounded by friends who didn’t get it, and unable to function like a normal human being.
I’ve said this in other posts but I’ll say it again: I’m extremely proud of making choices in my career and my life that were the right ones for me. I am proud of defying the norm in favor of what I needed for myself. And if you’re reading this post and feeling like it resonates with your own situation, I urge you to think long and hard about what the right choice is for you.
The Bottom Line
If I were to give any advice to people grappling with the same tough decisions I did, it would be to use all of the resources available to you to get yourself into a better spot. When I started to realize how badly my mental health had declined, I took the steps I needed to get better. I sought help in my family, in therapy, and in carving my own path forward, regardless of the discouraging words other people threw at me.
Making the tough decision to move home to my mom’s house, despite the condescending judgment of the media, my so-called “friends,” and society in general, made me stronger and more willing to fight for myself. This kind of “decision making against the norm” is a skill I know I’ll use throughout my life, and one I encourage everyone to build, regardless of your circumstance.
Have you ever had to make a decision that went against the grain? Tell me about it in the comments below!