When I was in high school I couldn't wait to leave home and be independent. I counted the days until I left for college and when I did the freedom was everything that I imagined. After graduation I moved home with my family and started looking for work, but unfortunately this was at the height of our economy crashing and continuing my independence proved harder than my carefree college years led me to believe.
Weeks turned into months when it came to the job hunt and friends of mine who were successful in the chase saw those jobs go just as fast as they came. Student loan defaults, evictions and unemployment, the world felt like pure chaos. The only place that felt safe was my parent's home. They were my support system and understood that my struggles weren't due to my lack of effort. When I finally found a steady job a little over a year after graduating I felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. I finally had the money to go out and reclaim my independence, except now I was scared to.
I saw so many people struggle, so many people fail at this adult life we've been dreaming about since we were teens and it made me afraid for my own future. At home I didn't have to worry about getting evicted or what would happen to me if my job had another round of layoffs. I could build my savings and pay my loans on time, I had a safety net and it made my fear of falling a bit easier to handle. Now don't get it twisted, I'm not some freeloading kid taking advantage of her parents. I help out with certain bills, contribute to groceries and help my parents out in other ways whenever I can. I want to be responsible, I want to be grown, but leaving the nest and facing the reality or life fills me with anxiety. I don't want to fail. I don't want to disappoint my parents.
Opportunities to stand on my own have come and I've self-sabotaged every one of them. From friends that needed roommates to call-backs from new affordable housing projects, I've always found some excuse why I couldn't move forward. At first I thought my feelings were normal, I mean what kid is truly ready to be an adult? However now I feel crippled by it. I've talked with my mom about this and, like any good momma bird, she's encouraging me to spread my wings and give the real world a try, yet she also understands my hesitation because she worries about the same things every day.
In two months I turn 27 years old and as a gift to myself I want to finally leave the nest. I'm terrified of the unknown, of not being able to survive on my own...of failing. But I'm more ready now than I've ever been since graduation and I'm ready to let go of this fear and start living. I might sink or I might swim, but I'll never know if I don't take the first step. To not try would be a slap in the face to all sacrifices my parents made to get me this far and even worse it would be a dishonor to myself. So here I go, off into the world to prove myself wrong and truly get my life started. Wish me luck!
- As told to Danielle Pointdujour