Please welcome today’s guest writer, Erin Koster. Erin graduated in 2016 with a double major in writing and Greek. She lives in West Michigan and fills her days with part-time work, part-time school, and full-time tea-loving, nerdiness, and wishing she had a cat.

A confession: On June 4, 2017, I joined the approximately 32.1% of Americans in my age group who live with their parents.

According to one news article I found while researching the above statistic, my peers and I “fail to leave the nest.” My parents (and the American housing market) are to be pitied. I am “struggling to get a foothold into adulthood,” another article claims, citing moving out of my parents’ home in a list of “the milestones of adulthood” studied in a census report. For the curious, the entire list is: “completed formal schooling; employed full-time; capable of supporting a family financially; financially independent from parents/guardians; no longer living in parents’ household; get married; and have a child.” I am, it would seem, one-seventh an adult.

And if I’m being honest, moving home does feel like a failure. I went out into the big wide world with a suitcase and a dream and came back empty-handed. I thought I was going to find a Real Job and have a tidy bedroom and get an oil change. Instead, my oil change is overdue, my room looks like a tornado came through, and my hopes of having a Real Job have probably been picked up somewhere along I-196 and thrown into one of those Adopt-a-Highway bags with a bunch of greasy McDonald’s wrappers.

Moving home feels like a failure because it means admitting I can’t do it. I went out there and got my ass kicked when I should be able to hold my own—on my own. As far as I can tell, American adulthood is all about independence. Living with my parents feels like the opposite. It takes my status as their child—or rather, as a child—and throws it in my face. If I so much as mention living with my parents to someone, their first response is to justify it for me (“How great that you can save money!”) or else to pity me (“Are you sick of each other yet?”). It’s like I’m suddenly wearing a giant, flashing badge of ultimate young adult shame. WARNING: THIS PERSON LIVES WITH HER PARENTS. SHE IS THE ANTITHESIS OF ALL THINGS ADULT.

At its face value, maybe moving home does merit a bit of pity. It isn’t where I thought I’d be or where I wanted to be at this time in my life. But all the same, it doesn’t, because moving home is perhaps the most adult decision I’ve made in my life.

Another confession: On December 27, 2012, I was diagnosed with clinical depression, a mood disorder more commonly known as simply depression.

Almost four and a half years after that diagnosis, I chose to move home. And that choice is anything but a failure. Going home means going to the place where I can work to overcome this illness with the people who will support me in it most. It would have been easier to stay where I was, paying rent and pretending I was a perfectly functional human being. It would have been easier to decide that low energy and depression and anxiety were all there was to life, to do nothing and tell myself I had to live with the hand life dealt me. But I’m choosing to believe that there’s more to adulthood than an oil change and an organized bedroom and a Real Job (whatever that is), and there’s more to life than the anxious wreck of a recluse I could have become if left to my own devices.

Going home is a victory because it means facing the fact that I am not okay. It means choosing the long, rugged road to recovery. It means admitting that I can’t do it alone. Going home means sacrificing the appearance of being an adult in favor of becoming one.

I chose to move home because I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired, and because the milestones along the path to adulthood are as different as the paths we all take to get there.

I don’t know why 32.1 percent of my peers have moved home. Maybe we are struggling into adulthood. If we’re being honest, maybe we all are.

And maybe going home isn’t as terrible of a thing as we make it out to be.

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