After graduating from college two years ago, I moved back in to the house I grew up in. It’s only about an hour and a half away from the university that I graduated from, which made the transition fairly convenient and seamless. I didn’t have a job lined up for after I graduated, so the idea of free rent and home-cooked meals was enticing to say the least. All things considered, my parents' home has been a source of stability and familiarity in these post-college transition years; for that, I am beyond grateful.

And now, it’s time for me begin a new phase. The phase of paying rent, shopping for my own groceries, cooking my own meals and working with a landlord. For my last two years of college, I lived in a house with six other girls and I had all of these same responsibilities. I know how to do dishes, fold laundry, and make my bed. I know how to entertain guests and pay bills. Even though I’ve had all of these experiences and responsibilities in the past, I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s all going to feel a bit different this time. 

When I lived on my own in college, I felt like I was playing house. I had adult responsibilities, a home to invite friends over to and a budget to operate within, but at the end of the day, I still felt like a kid. After a long day of classes and studying, my housemates and I would come home, collapse onto our blue couch, and talk about how surreal our experience of early adulthood actually was.  Outbursts of“Man, why is toilet paper so expensive?” and “I HATE street cleaning day!” were far from uncommon. We were going through the motions of adulthood, but they were by no means natural.

While I know that these new responsibilities will not feel natural at first, I like to think that I am better equipped for them now than I was two years ago. Ironically enough, I feel that living at home these past two years has actually helped prepare me for the independence that I’ve been working towards. It has helped me achieve financial stability in the early years of my career and it has also made me more aware of how much effort goes into maintaining a living space. Simply put, living at home has given me a safe space to try new things and learn from my mistakes.

Ever since I was a little kid, my parents’ house has been my home. Barring my two years in the dorms at the beginning of college, I’ve lived in a house for my whole life, and once I move into my apartment, it will probably be a while before I live in a house again. Up to this point, my concept of home, I suppose by default, has always included a house; as I prepare to move in to my first apartment however, I am rethinking this concept and asking myself what makes a place a home. I don’t have a complete answer to that quite yet, but I do know that creating a home takes time and effort and that it’s more about the people than the place itself. 

While I know my parents' home will always be a home for me and I will always be welcome there, I'm looking forward to shaping my own little version of a home for myself. It won't be perfect and it will take time to find the right place, but eventually, it will be home.