My 26th year alive was one of those years that you look back on and say “I survived.”
It was a massive roller coaster that I grew exponentially from, but I would never want to do again.
It started off with me in massive debt that my roommates were terrific at supporting me through and understanding even when I pushed them away. A month into my 26th year, I was “involuntarily separated” from a job where I loved working with my clients, and they enjoyed working with me. Where I had a supervisor that saw my energy and client commitment as a hindrance to my work performance and instead of working with me, she got rid of me. I was devastated, if you had asked any of my clients about my work with them, they would sing my praises. Many parents of my clients attempted to reach out to me after my departure, but due to my social work licensing and ethical boundaries of my profession I could not communicate with them. No being able to say goodbye to people I had spent the last year and a half in their life attempting to improve it no matter what it costs, was heart-wrenching.
After that, I took a leap. I looked into an amazing non-profit organization in Austin that was well known for their continual innovations in their social services. Less than a month after being “involuntarily separated” I was hired as a part-time employee at this amazing non-profit at their youth homeless shelter. Granted I was apprehensive; I have worked direct care with teenagers before and that turned into a hot mess. This place was different! I left my work at work and my home at home. This place was perfect for my personality. They let me use my energy to improve the workplace not just for the clients, but for the staff. Less than 3 months into employment I was awarded the company-wide “Gratitude Award” something that very few part-time employees ever see. I felt at “home” at the company. When they saw my flaws in the workplace they worked with me to improve myself, they didn’t throw me aside, they made me feel like a part of a team and a part of a family all in one.
While applying for this job I also applied for graduate school. I got accepted into SUNY-Cortland’s online Recreation Therapy Certificate program. It won’t end in a masters, but it will end in me being a qualified Recreation Therapist to be able to work in Texas. Classes started in January, and I instantly fell in love with the field.
The ending of my 26th year of life isn’t so happy. Just days before I went on vacation for my birthday, I hit a pothole with my car. I popped one tire and got a bubble in one. Both tires were replaced. My driver side seat belt also locked up and would not expand or retract; the dealership told me that I was in an accident so they would not replace the seat belt for free. I wasn’t in an accident; my car fell off the jack while I was changing my tire. They didn’t care; I took the car to the mechanic by the house and had it completely replaced. My roommates went above and beyond again. For me, my vacation started on the day my car was taken to the local mechanic. I ended up being hundreds of miles away when my roommate took my car from the mechanic to the tire shop to get my tires aligned. That’s where he found that 3 of my rims were no longer circular, but ovals. He took it upon himself to go back to the place where I had gotten my tires and reamed them for their shoddy workmanship. When I returned from my 4-day vacation, I found a new driver side seat belt and four new matte black rims on my car.
In conclusion, my past year was only survivable by the sheer love and patience that my roommates showed me. They will forever be my favorite roommates.
As you may have gathered, I am a little sister. I grew up with an older brother. Many people say we are 3 years apart, but I suppose we are 2 years and 365 days apart. The year I was born was a leap year, so there was an extra day in there. We were almost born on the same day. My brother was born on July 28th at 1:32am, and 2 years and 365 days later I was born on July 27th at 3:31pm. I was the best birthday present a 3-year-old could ask for.
For those of you who know my brother nowadays, he wanted me when he was 3. He loved me so much that when I was growing up and supposed to be hitting my growth milestones, my speech growth was delayed. Why you ask? Because when I was younger I would point and grunt at things I wanted and my loving older brother would run and get it for me. Why would I need to learn to talk if I could communicate with grunts and pointing? Needless to say, my parents stopped my brother from being my lackey, and I learned to speak which is when my brother began falling out of love with me.
There is one thing and will always be one thing that my brother will love more than anything in the world. Animals. My brother has entirely laid out plans for a zoo and an aquarium. It includes which animals would be at each enclosure, what the sex of the animals would be, feeding schedule, feeding needs, habitat needs, and where he would be able to locate the animals. Every family vacation included at least one zoo or aquarium or nature preserve of where ever we were. While granted I have seen some pretty amazing zoos and aquariums, there are only so many times I can look at the same kind of fish and fain my enthusiasm. My brother definitely took my family on many adventures that looked the same, and to an outsider that wasn’t my brother they were, but to my brother, they were new every time and got better and better with each visit.
It has been a few months living at home with my parents and my brother. While it has been stressful doing so, I have survived. My dad and I have a tendency of saying the same thing, just in two different ways, which has caused a lot of “yelling.” [The quotes are because my father believes that he never raises his voice, which means he has never yelled, but it sure sounds like yelling to everyone else in the house]
Regardless of the countless fights my dad and I have had or the number of times I’ve attempted to hide from my family in my room there are good moments that have occurred while living with my parents; such as having a bubble bath and my mom bringing me hot chocolate and cookies while I soak. Now, this is the reason I moved home. I’ve never had a roommate bring me hot chocolate and cookies while a bath, then again I had a roommate in college bring me a beer while I was showering. We called them Bhowers. Needless to say, I could get used to living at home if this becomes a regular thing becomes.
I had moved out of my parents’ house. Then, I was in an apartment with a couple of coworkers, but now I’m back home again.
For me, returning home to my parents was a failure to me. I somehow had to get over the fact that it wasn’t, but how? My older brother still lived at home, but I was the failure. My brain rationalized him being home. He was had been in the Peace Corps down in Nicaragua, he was still adjusting to a first-world country after living being down there for 3 years. I went from being on my own to back home with the parents, so I was the failure. It would take me a while to not feel like that.
We wrote and signed a contract. That changed everything. I went from their freeloading child to their roommates from a few strokes on a keyboard and the swipe of a pen. These are the “demands” that I had to meet to keep a happy home and to live as an independent adult in my childhood home, sleeping in my childhood bedroom:
- Rent must be paid on the 1st of every month
- The floors of the house must be cleaned weekly (My brother would clean everything else)
- All yard work must be completed weekly; luckily grass doesn’t grow in our yard during the winter
- I must plan and cook 1 meal a week for the family (take out was allowed)
- All of my expenses came out of my pocket; phone bill, health insurance, car insurance, gas money, clothing, hygiene needs, etc.
- If I was not going to be home that night, I just text them, so they don’t freak out and wake up in the morning wondering if I am dead in a ditch somewhere
This contract worked. I was able to feel independent at my home while also allowing my parents to have their freedom from me as well.
I have no survival guide to living at with their parents as an adult, but what I can tell you is that what I am doing is working for me. Living at home is definitely not a boring life. We will just have to see where this takes me.