How I Overcame The Stigma Of Moving Back Home As An Adult


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.

Pull-Your-Hair-Out Frustration

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.

xoNecole is always looking for new voices and empowering stories to add to our platform. If you have an interesting story or personal essay that you'd love to share, we'd love to hear from you. Contact us at submissons@xonecole.com

Featured image by Shutterstock

Before she was Amira Unplugged, rapper, singer, and a Becoming a Popstar contestant on MTV, she was Amira Daughtery, a twenty-five year-old Georgian, with aspirations of becoming a lawyer. “I thought my career path was going to lead me to law because that’s the way I thought I would help people,” Amira tells xoNecole. “[But] I always came back to music.”

A music lover since childhood, Amira grew up in an artistic household where passion for music was emphasized. “My dad has always been my huge inspiration for music because he’s a musician himself and is so passionate about the history of music.” Amira’s also dealt with deafness in one ear since she was a toddler, a condition which she says only makes her more “intentional” about the music she makes, to ensure that what she hears inside her head can translate the way she wants it to for audiences.

“The loss of hearing means a person can’t experience music in the conventional way,” she says. “I’ve always responded to bigger, bolder anthemic songs because I can feel them [the vibrations] in my body, and I want to be sure my music does this for deaf/HOH people and everyone.”

A Black woman wearing a black hijab and black and gold dress stands in between two men who are both wearing black pants and colorful jackets and necklaces

Amira Unplugged and other contestants on Becoming a Popstar

Amira Unplugged / MTV

In order to lift people’s spirits at the beginning of the pandemic, Amira began posting videos on TikTok of herself singing and using sign language so her music could reach her deaf fans as well. She was surprised by how quickly she was able to amass a large audience. It was through her videos that she caught the attention of a talent scout for MTV’s new music competition show for rising TikTok singers, Becoming a Popstar. After a three-month process, Amira was one of those picked to be a contestant on the show.

Becoming a Popstar, as Amira describes, is different from other music competition shows we’ve all come to know over the years. “Well, first of all, it’s all original music. There’s not a single cover,” she says. “We have to write these songs in like a day or two and then meet with our producers, meet with our directors. Every week, we are producing a full project for people to vote on and decide if they’d listen to it on the radio.”

To make sure her deaf/HOH audiences can feel her songs, she makes sure to “add more bass, guitar, and violin in unique patterns.” She also incorporates “higher pitch sounds with like chimes, bells, and piccolo,” because, she says, they’re easier to feel. “But it’s less about the kind of instrument and more about how I arrange the pattern of the song. Everything I do is to create an atmosphere, a sensation, to make my music a multi-sensory experience.”

She says that working alongside the judges–pop stars Joe Jonas and Becky G, and choreographer Sean Bankhead – has helped expand her artistry. “Joe was really more about the vocal quality and the timber and Becky was really about the passion of [the song] and being convinced this was something you believed in,” she says. “And what was really great about [our choreographer] Sean is that obviously he’s a choreographer to the stars – Lil Nas X, Normani – but he didn’t only focus on choreo, he focused on stage presence, he focused on the overall message of the song. And I think all those critiques week to week helped us hone in on what we wanted to be saying with our next song.”

As her star rises, it’s been both her Muslim faith and her friends, whom she calls “The Glasses Gang” (“because none of us can see!”), that continue to ground her. “The Muslim and the Muslima community have really gone hard [supporting me] and all these people have come together and I truly appreciate them,” Amira says. “I have just been flooded with DMs and emails and texts from [young muslim kids] people who have just been so inspired,” she says. “People who have said they have never seen anything like this, that I embody a lot of the style that they wanted to see and that the message hit them, which is really the most important thing to me.”

A Black woman wears a long, salmon pink hijab, black outfit and pink boots, smiling down at the camera with her arm outstretched to it.

Amira Unplugged

Amira Unplugged / MTV

Throughout the show’s production, she was able to continue to uphold her faith practices with the help of the crew, such as making sure her food was halal, having time to pray, dressing modestly, and working with female choreographers. “If people can accept this, can learn, and can grow, and bring more people into the fold of this industry, then I’m making a real difference,” she says.

Though she didn’t win the competition, this is only the beginning for Amira. Whether it’s on Becoming a Popstar or her videos online, Amira has made it clear she has no plans on going anywhere but up. “I’m so excited that I’ve gotten this opportunity because this is really, truly what I think I’m meant to do.”

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