The first week I moved out of my parents’ house, I laid on a mattress on the floor, watching “The Departed” at 3 a.m. thinking, “This is adulthood.”
I know that portrays a pretty immature picture, but isn’t that the point? There’s inherent value in leaving home an immature idiot and having to figure out how to be an adult on your own.
Our generation is growing up slower than any generation before us, and that’s not just me shaking my fist at “kids these days”; there’s actual research to back it up. According to a study from San Diego State University published in the journal Child Development, “In terms of adult activities, 18-year-olds now look like 15-year-olds once did.”
We’re taking on responsibilities such as jobs and driver’s licenses later than any other generation. This could be attributed to many reasons, ranging from overprotective parenting to the tendency of the younger generations to gravitate toward online activities. The point is, we have a lot less independence and life experience.
It’s no surprise that according to a study from Penn State, anxiety and insecurity are occurring more frequently among college-aged people. How can we feel a sense of accomplishment and confidence when, for many of us, the sharp edges of the world have been filed off?
Confidence comes from meeting challenges head on and overcoming them and there’s no better way to subject yourself to a little healthy hardship than moving out of your parents’ house.
I recognize that moving out isn’t always an option for everyone. There’s plenty of reasons why someone would have to live at home. But if the option is available, I’d recommend it.
As someone who moved out of my parents’ house a little over half a year ago and is living in squalor, I know it’s not easy. My diet is made up entirely of peanut butter sandwiches and Little Caesar’s pizza, and I have to save money all week just to afford a tank of gas.
But none of that changes the fact that I can look at myself and say “I’m somewhat making it as an adult human.”
College is the best time to try something and completely fail at it. Although this isn’t true for everyone, for many people, when it comes to moving away from home there is a safety net.
If tomorrow I decided I was tired of being malnourished and stressed about money, I could move back in with my parents and it would be okay. It’s better to learn from the mistake now than find out in 10 years that I can’t hack it on my own.
I want to be clear: I’m not trying to criticize anyone, or call this generation of college students lazy. I simply think it’s important to understand the social context of what’s happening and what I think the benefits of “leaving the nest” are.
The prospect of moving out can be scary, and it’s not always a joyful process. But the satisfaction and independence that it brings is something I wouldn’t trade for the world.