Senior year of college, we all swear it isn't going to happen to us. We talk about our friend/R.A./ex who did it and say, over and over, that we will not repeat their mistakes. But for some of us — myself included — that "summer back at home" stretches out and suddenly it's September 22nd and you're still living in the childhood bedroom that hasn't been redecorated since your sophomore year of high school.
What follows is a list of 5 basic ground-rules for preserving your sanity while still creating an environment of peaceful coexistence between you and the people who raised you.
1. Try not to revert.
This happens to everyone. It's the subtle process of turning into a useless, oversized toddler when you return to your childhood bedroom after years living elsewhere. You forget how to do things like laundry, bed-making, and washing dishes. And, while that may fly for the two weeks you were home at Christmas two years ago, once you've graduated and are indefinitely in residence, it's a great way to piss off Mom and Dad. Also, it's embarrassing. You're better than that.
2. Accept that your parents are nothing like your roommates.
Unlike your college roommates, who understood that your lack of response to their 2 a.m. "Where r u?!" text meant a) I'm eating pizza with randos from my Shakespeare seminar b) I'm passed out in my ex's bed or d) I'm asleep in the next room with my phone on silent, your parents worry. When you were off at school they didn't know enough about your activities to worry properly, but now that you're back under their roof they know that you left at 10:30 p.m. and that the bars close at 2:00 a.m. in Los Angeles and WHY THE HECK AREN'T YOU HOME ALREADY IS EVERYTHING OKAY? Respect that. Text back. They don't need graphic details. They just need to know that yes, you are, in fact, alive.
3. Hang out with your parents.
Seriously! The last time you had this much face-time with them, you were 18. If you feel about 18 year olds the way I feel about 18 year olds (that they are, functionally, large babies), then it might be nice for you and your parents to get reacquainted now that you are no longer a raging mass of hormones. You graduated college. You can talk about things. Further, you're old enough where they might tell you interesting stuff, like that story about Mom dropping acid in San Francisco when she was 19.
4. Break out the "nod and smile" in a non-office hours context.
We all mastered it in college. Accept that you are a captive audience in your current, home-ridden state. Some of the post-college-life advice your parents (and their friends) are going to give you might, actually, be helpful. Some of it won't, and will make you extraordinarily cranky. Reserve the right to tune out when that happens. As long as you say thank you and look like you're listening, you've covered the basic politeness bases.
5. Get over your embarrassment.
Don't beat yourself up for living at home. With hard work, a lot of cover letters, grad school applications, resume polishing and Craigslist "room 4 rent" searching, everyone gets through it. Feeling bad about yourself for living at home is a waste of precious time and energy. You're not alone. You're not any more lame than any of your peers. You also have the perk of a way nicer, way cleaner, and theoretically rent-free living situation with a couple of people whose company you hopefully enjoy. You may not be able to embrace it, but at least stop hitting yourself over the head with proverbial achievement-measuring stick.
Image via D. Sharon Pruitt on Flickr