Graduating from a higher institution is something every final-year student looks forward to with a heightened level of anticipation. Life after school seems like a grand adventure we can't wait to begin.
To me, being a graduate felt much like the feeling one might have after landing on a strange planet, anxious to placate the inhabitants. What really happens after?
I can't even begin to describe the anxiety I felt when I was about to finish school. The hard work, research and sleepless nights all seemed about ready to pay off (or not).
Personally, I wasn't the least bit reluctant about graduating from school. It was finally the time of my life when I got to be my own person. I wouldn't be controlled by my timetable, assignments or tests. I couldn't wait.
The problem was, as I drew closer and closer to my freedom from assignments, deadlines, lectures and studying like my life depended on it, I started to realize I'd gotten so accustomed to the lifestyle, giving it up was not so alluring anymore. It was terrifying.
It was much like a scary monster under my bed. I desperately wanted to ignore it so I could go on pretending like I could not wait for the "freedom" from routine. But try as I did, I could not ignore the monster.
This is how my thought process about finishing school went: have unrealistic expectations, graduate from school, serve my country, live alone, start paying my own rent, pay my own bills by myself, feed myself by myself, hustle for a job, have employment problems, deal with money issues, lose confidence, fall on my face, go back home and be depressed that I went out into the world and failed. The end.
Seems pessimistic, right? Believe me, I know. But, there's a reason I thought this way.
Do you know how many young adults leave home and try to live on their own? But then, they fall on hard times and have to go back home to depend on their moms and dads.
Going back home can be humiliating on a lot of different levels. Imagine the embarrassment of having to pack up all your earthly belongings into suitcases, only to return to a place you left. You thought you'd only go back or visit after you'd "made it" or "arrived." That would make anyone feel like a loser, no matter how much you love your folks.
If this has happened to you, do not despair. You are not alone.
If you've found yourself in the position where your final option is to go back home and recuperate from adulthood, there are steps you can take to make the transition as smooth as possible for both you and your parents. More importantly, here are ways to make sure it doesn't happen again. (Because honestly, your self-esteem can only take so much assault.)
Why does this happen?
What brings about the need to return home in the first place?
1. Money Problems
Remember when your parents would always scold you about not valuing the money they provided for you because you didn't work to earn it yourself? I think they were onto something.
When we start sweating to earn money, most of us suffer a shocking awakening at the high cost of living. Then, we realize our moms and dads were right about how hard money is to come by. It is at this point that many of us make the decision to return and learn some money manners.
2. High Expectations
Because of how much our parents love us — bless their hearts — they led us to believe we can achieve anything our wild imaginations can come up with. So many young people enter the workforce believing they have come to conquer.
They forget that simply surviving is victory enough. So, when they do not "conquer" (whatever that means), they feel they have failed. This brings about the the need to return home and get a confidence boost from the people who told them they have to conquer in the first place.
3. Unemployment (Or Loss Of Employment)
This one is a no-brainer. If you do not have a job, you cannot pay your bills. You cannot live alone, period. (Well, unless your parents are rich and agree to pay your rent. But in this case, you're still not independent.)
Now that we know why this happens, what can be done to avoid it altogether? I mean, some people never have to return to being dependent on their parents, right? Could it be because they have more money than others? Or, do they know better ways to manage their money?
I think they know something others don't. So, I did some research and discovered the best ways to avoid getting that broke.
How do you avoid it?
I'm not an expert, but it seems like most of the things that make us lose money (or not earn it at all) can be avoided. So, I'm going to attempt to explain what can be done to avoid the awkward return home.
1. Manage your expectations.
I know we've all heard the "follow your dreams" speech. But the truth is, pursuing your "dream" career will narrow your options and blind you to job opportunities that are right in front of you.
Considering how difficult it is to find work these days, you need more options, not fewer options. So, instead of waiting for the ideal job in the ideal city, keep an open mind. Take the job that's available, even if it's only so you can pay rent.
2. Master the art of budgeting.
When people work at the same place and earn the same amount of money, how can some of them can stretch their salary to last the whole month while others can't? Here's a tip: It starts with a "b" and ends with a "t."
A budget is the secret ingredient to living a sufficiently independent life. If you don't know how to make a budget, start learning fast. Parents should be able to teach you the basics of budgeting, banking and bill paying.
Acquiring practical budgeting skills will go a long way in helping you manage your finances so you don't run out of money and run back home with your tail between your legs.
3. Manage your money.
When you really think about it, more than half the things we buy on a daily basis are things we don't absolutely need. Learning the distinction between necessary and unnecessary expenses (aka, what you need and what you want) is the first step toward proper finance management.
4. Plan properly.
Before you even think of leaving home, make sure you have what it takes to survive on your own. Otherwise, the much-anticipated independence will soon lose its glamour.
This may come as a shock, but not every graduate can fit the description of an "adult." It takes maturity and a great deal of self-discipline, and it surprisingly does not come with graduation. It's something that has to be learned.
So, in those last few years — before you join the "independent adult" club — you'd do well to learn some self-discipline (i.e. grow up). More importantly, plan what you're going to do with your newfound freedom.
What can you do?
While you're at home, it helps to discuss the giant elephant in the room (your plans while you're back at your mom and dad's place) with your parents. Let them know how long you plan on staying, how much you plan to contribute financially while you're there, what chores you're willing to handle (lest they begin to treat you like one of your younger siblings) and what steps you're taking to regain your independence.
Also remember that no matter how old you are, you can't be older than your parents. They will always deserve your respect. If you ever have to live under their roof, you should live by their rules. This includes their 8 pm curfew (just ask my dad).