My pride was shattered.
A year ago, I sucked up my ego and made the decision to move from my beautiful Pinterest board apartment to an upstairs room in my aunt and uncle's house.
This was the very first apartment I had owned outside of college and it was painful to let it all go.
But the truth is, I was barely making it.
With a job that paid me under $30k a year, it felt impossible to hold my own - let alone pay my debt back.
I wanted to be free from late payments and worried nights. I wanted to know how it felt to buy something without checking my card balance first. My apartment was everything to me but my family offered me a rent-free room and it was an offer I couldn't pass up.
However, the longer I stayed, the more I felt abashed about the fact that I was living at home. Although I kept reminding myself that living with family was the best financial move I could make, there was some sort of unwritten shame about it. And it was a feeling I couldn't shake.
It wasn't like I was an anomaly or anything. In fact, recent studies show that a record number of millennials are moving back in with their parents after college. In other words:
Sallie Mae had everybody broke around here.
But I still couldn't shake the nagging feeling of disappointment.
It just seemed as if everyone was making boss moves without me. With my internal list of expectations growing by the minute, I felt like a failure for not being able to afford the lifestyle I thought I should have after college.
You know - the cute brunches with your girls, those binge-watching Netflix sessions, and doing my best Queen Bey impressions in the mirror. It all felt like a dream then.
So I'll admit, moving in with family definitely created some rough moments.
But through the past year, I've learned to overcome the often nagging emotion of proving your worth to others. What started out as embarrassment transformed into an empowering way to knock out my goals, save some money and grow in ways I never would have if I had it my way.
I have so much peace with my choices and I know that my life is better because of it. If you are struggling with living at home, here are the stages you have to overcome to come out on top:
Shame Here, Shame Everywhere
This is the first real stage of moving back home and I remember being so secretive about it. I didn't want anyone to know that I didn't have my own place. I hated not being able to invite my girls over like I wanted or walk around in my underwear freely. And on top of it all, I had chores. It made me feel like a grown child and these feelings kept me very insecure.
These are obviously natural feelings to experience when we feel out of control over our situation. But don't let the opinions of people create shame for doing something that will benefit you in the long run. I had to constantly remind myself of my why for staying there, which was to dig myself out of a ridiculous hole of student loan debt.
I call this the "Who Am I" stage. After you come to terms with your living situation, you may begin to experience frustration and confusion like I did. I would get so irritated with my family and it wasn't their fault necessarily, I just wanted to be independent. The truth is that it was pride. I missed being able to come home without worrying about a respectable time or to just cook for myself.
What I learned was that inviting in frustration also opens the door to its homegirl - distraction. You become so busy trying to distract yourself from the feeling of failure that you don't take the time to work on your gifts and dreams. Be on guard for this emotion and take isolated self-care days when needed. When I really needed a break, I would plan a staycation with a nice hotel room.
Fake Happy Vibes
Okay so maybe this is just me, but I went through a serious period of faking my happiness. I lost sight of my goal to save money and began using it up to buy clothes, eat out, and everything in between. Every picture on Instagram required a "quality" amount of attention so that I could reassure myself that life was good.
I realized that this was my way of "making up" where I felt I lacked in having control over my own space. The things I ran to only brought me temporary joy but my past emotions always crept up again to put me in a state of sadness.
Hope For the Future
I had to finally have a come-to-Jesus moment with myself. I didn't move home to mooch off my family - I was there to save up, work hard, and put myself in a position to win indefinitely. Realize that your situation is only as powerful as the thoughts you feed it. While I was dipping and dodging questions about living with my folks, I could have used that mental space to draw out the battle plan for moving on up - and moving on out.
I began to grow my relationship with God and he showed me that he was stripping me of pride, shame, and even the need to prove myself to others. This wasn't about the move at all. It was about my constant need to validate myself through people. The 'A-Ha' moment was a true turning point for me and I started working harder than ever.
Free Like Cardi B
The truth to all these stages is that they are fueled by a deep need to impress others and achieve this imaginary bar of success. When you decided to move back home, it was the best decision for YOU and it's so powerful to own that. Your bills are low, so your focus should be high. I became so free in my decision to save money that my little room actually brought me joy.
Since overcoming the initial stages of moving back home, I've been able to pay off huge loans and credit cards, grow closer to my family, and pursue the things I love like freelance writing. I've learned to work with what I have until I am ready to be elevated for more. Your freedom doesn't come through an apartment, it comes through your inner ability to stay the course.
I know you are anxious to be out on your own. I also know it secretly bothers you to see everyone "making it" while you seem to barely get by.
But you are exactly where you need to be.
Grab some fresh flowers, turn on some of your favorite jams, and set the tone for all the greatness that you are about to receive.
Because it's coming.
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