Don’t Be Embarrassed About Moving in With Your Parents
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Don’t Be Embarrassed About Moving in With Your Parents

Between the economy and the bungled Covid…

Anyone with sense could have foreseen that a racist con man whose opinions are largely shaped by the bullshit he watches on Fox News would be a disaster as president — but almost none of them could have predicted the degree of chaos contained in one year alone. Yet, of all the awful things that have happened this year due to America’s failure to contain the Covid-19 outbreak, one ongoing worry of mine has been how so many young people have had to move back home through no fault of their own.

This month, a new analysis from the Pew Research Center found that in July, 52% of young adults resided with one or both of their parents — a more than 10% increase since February. Those 26.6 million people mark the first time since the Great Depression that a majority of young adults live with their parents. That new reality should have stunned the nation when it was revealed earlier this month, but America didn’t even flinch.

I can sort of understand why.

If you go by Instagram, it can feel like everyone’s flying to Atlanta, Tulum, or Miami. Maybe some of them got it like that by God’s grace, via ongoing employment or saved rent, and got tired of quarantining — but as so often with social media, what you’re scrolling through is the greatest hits collection of people’s lives. (Yes, I’m on it, too, but at this point only for memes of Patti LaBelle and Monica.)

The mainstream news media also deserves some blame for not properly conveying how bad an economic state this country is in — and how it’s directly impacting some populations worse than others. That sort of coverage ignored millennials’ pain during the first Great Recession, and now Gen Z is learning the same truth. We can only ignore reality but for so long, though.

Somehow, Congress and the White House continue to fail to pass another stimulus package that would provide much needed help to both the American public and our economy. As I understand it, the Republican-controlled Senate’s position is “the rich folks are fine so fuck everyone else,” and in the Democratic-led House, the stance is “we’re mad that you said that, but not mad enough to mobilize the American public to help us with our impotence.”

It makes for a hopeless situation, and even if I’m grouchy as shit about what’s happening in the world, I want people to maintain hope — and that’s a lot harder to do when the youngest adults find themselves in such a hopeless situation.

Sure, some like being at home. Free food, laundry, and a lifestyle that combines legal-age freedoms with the lower responsibilities of childhood. For others, it’s a much more difficult reality — for a number of different reasons. But the trend isn’t isolated to any one community. Pew’s analysis explains that the trend can be felt “across the board for all major racial and ethnic groups, men and women, and metropolitan and rural residents, as well as in all four main census regions.” The sharpest growth occurred among those aged 18 to 24 — some of which can be attributed to college campuses, but not all. (It’s been reported that one in five college students didn’t plan to attend school this fall.)

However you look at it, this is just yet another mess perched on a towering stack of so many other messes.

For those only worried about it in that American way —that is, how does it impact you — the answer is: significantly. “Even before the outbreak,” Pew wrote, “the growth in new households trailed population growth, in part because people were moving in with others. Slower household growth could mean less demand for housing and household goods. There also may be a decline in the number of renters and homeowners, and in overall housing activity.”

While the pain will be felt by all eventually, the ones being directly impacted deserve more focus in the interim.

And it’s not only the Zoomers. While Pew’s survey highlighted those under 30 specifically, I know millennials who have had to go back home, too.

If that means you, let me share some advice. After all, I’ve been through the same thing. Twice.

Not everyone will understand your decisions. Not everyone will accept your choices. Not everyone is capable of growing up, even if they raise you.

The first time was right after I graduated from college; just as my industry imploded, the Great Recession began. It felt like a failure. I didn’t go to college just to end up right back in the place I spent so much of my life wanting to get away from. As grateful as I was to go back home, and as much as I love my folks, home didn’t always feel hospitable; it’s easier said than done to move back to the root of your trauma.

So. Advice. I highly recommend not randomly drinking Grey Goose in the middle of the day in the dark while listening to sad music. Likewise, don’t swing at your pops, even if he tries you. I’m sorry some of this advice is so specific and hood, but to make it more general: Don’t have a pity party for yourself, and don’t allow anyone to make you feel a way you don’t deserve to feel.

Not everyone will understand your decisions. Not everyone will accept your choices. Not everyone is capable of growing up, even if they raise you.

Sometimes, simply not being homeless is enough incentive to be able to put up with many things. You will find your own limitations if you find yourself returning to a hostile environment. If the house you’re moving back into is peaceful, and you simply hate having to go back, that’s more than understandable. Again, on your own time, make peace with the new reality and uncertainty as best you can.

And: edibles, if you’re into that.

For me, during that period, once I got out of my own head and fixated on goals, slowly but surely, I laid the foundation for a career that got me out of that house and back on my path.

I won’t pretend proactivity alone made this easier, but it made it doable. It also helped me deal with moving back home a second time. That time wasn’t recession, but it also wasn’t planned: after leaving the city I was living in, I needed to stay with my folks for a year for the sake of paying off debts. I knew I was still going to New York to pursue certain goals — among them, my first book deal — but I also understood that being Black and gay meant the publishing world might try to play me financially, so needed to prepare for a struggle. Besides, my student loan payments weren’t going to get any cheaper.

I was in a better headspace for that second bout, but it was a humbling experience all the same. But the older I get and the longer this plague drags on, I accept that life sometimes affords certain folks more humbling experiences than feel necessary for a lifetime. The only thing I can say about that, hokey as it may sound, is that no matter how bad something feels at the moment, as long as you stay alive, it will get better.

By that I don’t mean merely breathing, but finding things that make you happy and give you purpose. And being grateful. No matter how difficult it felt going back home, my parents allowed me the chance to come back and regroup. I don’t know what would have happened without that support, challenging or not. For that, I’m forever grateful.

But if none of this is helpful, see the eviction crisis. In America, the richest country in the world, a roof over one’s head is a luxury currently too rich for far too many bloods. None of this easy, but if you have that, you have enough to get by until it gets better. When is better coming? Well, please fucking vote that devil out and let’s circle back.

Until then, my last bit of advice is to let your parents fuck — because apparently things have gotten so bad they have ads about it now.