I normally try to avoid blogging about my own personal life and experiences. Instead I try to take everyday observations and apply them in a more larger context that could be relevant to anybody. But sometimes there is a specific topic that requires a foray into my own situation in order to get the point across.
And that’s why I’d like to talk about something that’s becoming more prevalent in today’s age — young people in their mid- to late-20s, even early-30s, who are still living in their parents’ home. I fall into this category as a 27-year-old who, despite a four-year blip in an upstate New York college, still lives in the very same room he grew up in.
What I want to tackle is not the logistical stipulations of why this happens. Everybody should have an understanding of why more and more people are forced to do it, given today’s economy — but the perception and stigma that comes with it. Which, I admit, is something that becomes more troubling with each passing day.
First and foremost, we all know about the recent financial crisis, which peaked in 2007 and 2008, and, though has since ended, is still impacting the global economy to this day.
Without question, people have used the recession as a crutch. When they’re unemployed, they blame the economy. When asked why they haven’t applied for a job or a pay upgrade, they blame the economy. And when we still live at home more than five years after college, we blame the economy.
It’s pretty difficult to pinpoint exactly how the recession has affected each of us individually. There’s no doubt that it’s had a domino effect, stalling the creation of new jobs and making less positions available for everyone. Less companies are hiring, and when they do, they hire within, or someone who has connections. But at the end of the day, if you’re determined to find a job, have the appropriate skill set and wherewithal to know where to look and how to get people’s attention — you’re going to find work.
So I think who the economy has affected most, therefore, is the uneducated and the unmotivated. I lie in the latter.
Uneducated goes without saying. Having a bachelor’s degree — or better — is certainly not mandatory, but is typically required for most jobs.
I’m fortunate enough to have landed a job a year and a half out of college that is in the field in which I want to make a career in. I’m not doing exactly what I’d like to be doing, but my job allows me to hone the skills that I plan to utilize for the rest of my life. So I’m really lucky for that. And I know it.
I’ve been there four years, and I have no complaints, but I’ve also had ample time to look into other available positions and dabble in other related fields, while trying to make more money, and yes … eventually move out.
But I’m unmotivated. That’s my problem. Not in the sense that I don’t want to succeed, but in that I become too comfortable with the status quo. It’s tiring searching for a new job, and when I get home at the end of the day, or on weekends, the last thing I want to think about is working. So I don’t.
I wanted to bring up my own personal situation to make a point, which is that everybody’s circumstance is different. In my case, I’m comfortably in a job where I am learning skills that I firmly believe will benefit me in the long run, and consequently accepting less pay than I could get elsewhere.
So the question is whether to sacrifice that and risk a job change that may not behoove my career in order to gain more independence, or to let the ends justify the means and continue to bide my time while awaiting the next move.
And this isn’t even considering any other outlying factors why one might remain at home, such as their relationship with parents, their proximity to their job, or any other personal reasons.
What people who still live at home beyond an “acceptable” age must battle, however, is the outside stigma that comes with it. And this is for anybody. Even with universal awareness of the current economic state, there’s no question that people expect a 27-year-old to no longer be living at home. And that’s always what leads to self-consciousness. How much you let it affect you, though, is up to you.
I don’t blame people for imposing judgement. What I do believe people need to rethink is their perception.
People hear “still living at home” and automatically think ‘unemployed,’ ‘unsuccessful,’ and ‘subservient.’ It’s not true anymore. Living at home into young adulthood no longer means lack of success. I can attest to that.
But don’t get me wrong — there are plenty of freeloaders out there with no real career prospects who live at home, and it’s those people who perpetuate the negative stigma surrounding the lifestyle choice.
Or, in other words, I could have summed up this entire post in six words by quoting 2010 New York gubernatorial candidate Jimmy McMillan.
The rent is too damn high.