(Zach Trenholm/Salon)

I'm stuck living at home!

I can't afford to leave but I hate my life

Cary Tennis
December 12, 2012 6:00AM (UTC)

Dear Cary,

I'm a college graduate in my late 20s.  I graduated a few years ago but I did not find a "good" job after college.  I'm still in the process of making a career change.  I went back to school a few years ago for a certification and I'm currently working as an intern.  I work another part-time job just so I can pay bills.  It may take me a few years to reach solid ground.  For now, I absolutely hate how broke I am and I hate living at home.


Last night, I got in a huge fight with my mother over something others may perceive as trivial.  Basically, she threw away some possessions of mine that I had no intention of throwing away.  It enraged me more than it would have enraged a logical, levelheaded person.  Today, I've been thinking about my life and I realize why I went crazy.  I hate that at my age, I still have to fight with my mom about respecting my things.  I hate that I am furious, but I feel I have no right to be since I still live at home.  

I forget sometimes how much I want to move out and right now when I have a strong urge to do so, I know that it is impossible.  On top of that, I hate my job but I can't quit because I have bills to pay and that is all my paycheck covers.  My car is also having issues, which will end up costing me thousands.  I keep wondering why I'm so upset and I keep hearing the same thought:  "I live at a house I can't move out of (my parents'), and I hate my job but can't quit."  I feel so utterly powerless it overwhelms me.

I know that realistically I can't afford to move out for a few more years.  I just don't know how to hold it together until that time.  I don't know how to be angry at my parents without forgetting to be grateful for letting me live at home (I am completely aware that they are doing me a huge favor by letting stay at their house rent-free).  I don't know how to make the most of what I have now, since I will be stuck in this position for a very long time.  I look at my life now and I see no progression.  I thought going back to school would help things, but it still hasn't.  Am I in the wrong because I have the ability to better my life?  Is being patient my only solution?  



Waiting for Someday  

Dear Waiting for Someday,

Let me say something to you first that may be useful for the rest of your life: You have the right to your own feelings. You have the right to feel. I say this because you wrote the following sentence: "I hate that I am furious, but I feel I have no right to be since I still live at home."


You think you are doing the sensible thing. But the truly sensible thing may actually be the thing that looks crazy. The sensible thing may be to be true to yourself. You may need to leave home even if you think you can't afford it.

Right now, you are suffocating. You think for some reason that you have to do the sensible thing but the "sensible thing" is killing you. It's killing you!


Would you remain living in your parents' house day after day, working for little pay, waiting for someday, if you actually knew that you were dying? Because, let's face it, you are dying. Not today, maybe, but sooner than you are used to thinking about it, and faster as time goes by. You don't have all the time in the world. You just have a little bit of time.

Something went wrong economically but you didn't do anything wrong except fail to exercise the keen skepticism that can only be learned by studying history or living through it.

Lacking that -- and how many high schools and universities teach deep, abiding skepticism about capital markets? -- where was the basis for skepticism in your material world? How were you to find the basis for that skepticism if you had not been provided the analytical tools?


You relied on statements made by people in positions of trust  that if you did certain things certain things would follow. They said if you went to college you would get a good job.

You did everything you thought you were supposed to do and now you are living at home working two jobs and hating your life. So it makes sense that you would be angry. But at whom should your anger be directed? You seem to think that you yourself have failed as an individual when actually you are picking your way through the debris of a fantastic collapse.

What you lack, I think, is not character, or skills, but a sufficiently withering assessment of the cruelty of the system.


Something went wrong. You got screwed. A bunch of wealthy people got away with fraud and no one was prosecuted.

If you wonder why you are living at home working an unpaid job you might try listening to the Occupy Wall Street protesters. Try to understand how your fate is related to the fate of many others in this prodigiously wealthy country. And then realize that your life is yours, and you have the right to feel what you feel, and it is possible to live a different kind of life. Do not trust that if you do the conservative thing and keep being responsible you will be rewarded. The old social contract has been broken. You need to get on with your life in whatever way you can.

Someday means never. You've got to live your life now.

Cary Tennis

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