“How’s the apartment hunt going,” I asked.
“It’s not,” he responded, looking up from his laptop.
“Oh,” I said, not really sure how to respond. Talking future plans, moves, and finances can be a bit touchy. He picked up on my tone and eased the atmosphere with a chuckle.
“I mean I’d probably be more pressed if my parents didn’t live here,” he said “but since I have somewhere to go, I’m holding out for the idea spot.” It made a lot of sense, it was part of the reason I was still living with my parents.
Once upon a time, living at home after a certain age was taboo. You can argue that folks still side eye 25 year-olds who stay with mom, but in a time where “recession” is a buzz word and unemployment rates make headlines, the push to be on independent isn’t very strong. Not to take away from the facts and stats, but I’m wondering how many of us are home because of the market, and how many of us are home because we can be.
Of course when you’re in it, you don’t really see yourself as just coasting. But a trip to visit friends in NY left me questioning how much I’d accomplished since I’d been home. When I was on my own, I hustled extra hard. I had a lot of bills to pay and a lot of extra curriculars that needed funding. When I got back to Cali I started thinking one of my favorite sayings: Go hard or go home. It’s one of those “if you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen,” type of phrases that people kind of throw around, but I questioned whether it’s possible to go hard when you are home. Like really, what’s your motivation?
I did the whole move out at 18 thing. There were no other options. That was part of the plan. You graduate high school, got to college, graduate from college, get a job, and live forever as an adult who is super busy but remembers to make visits home. Well, I left the West Coast and did four Midwest winters for a degree before moving to New York. Then my dad got sick and I moved home. He got better and I stayed home. At first I felt some kind of way about being twenty-something and back in the house where I grew up, but then I stopped tripping. After all, it wasn’t like what I was doing was abnormal.
Some older folks were complaining and sociologists were talking about redefining adulthood while analysts were pointing to the economy, but no matter the reasons or how people felt about it my generation was moving back. Suddenly being home was an option and the new norm put me at ease. Yeah, I could go hard and find a spot that wasn’t quite as dope as my room with my parents, or I could wait for something fly. Just like I could take a job that paid more money but had nothing to do with why I went to school. I could do it all in the name of “the hustle” or “the grind.” But just like my homie, I had somewhere to go. That promised roof and those guaranteed meals meant I had a bit more room and time to explore. It meant I could save up my money. It meant I could pay down my credit cards. And I could do it all without stressing myself too much.
It’s a good setup but there’s the risk of getting too comfortable. And who hustles when they are comfortable? Yes, you should always want more for yourself, but how does that road to “more” and the time it takes to get there change when you are cool with where you are? The things that we identify with hustle, like losing sleep and working multiple jobs to survive while building your small business on the side, are often linked to a need that isn’t present when you have the crutch of home. The pressure to find investors because you’ll be out of an apartment if the money doesn’t start rolling in doesn’t exist. Upping the number of cover letters you submit each day is a bit more pressing when you’re trying to make rent. My guess is that you’re more likely to take that extra shift when you want go on a road trip and your light bill is due. Without those worries you have space to explore and grow without being super stressed. But those are the worries that motivate.
So is it safe to say that home is where your heart is and where your hustle is not?