Before college ended, I had made up my mind that I was going to be a prodigy screenwriter. I would graduate, tell North Carolina to tongue my rectum, and move out to Los Angeles. Within months, I would have my scripts, no, my visions noticed, and the rest of my life would be spent in relaxed creativity. "Hey Daniel! We're with FilmWhatevers.com, and we'd like to interview you about your wild, yet totally deserved success. Oh, wait. It seems as if Daniel has entered the "All Boning, Nothin' But Boning" Hot Tub Chamber with four beautiful, nameless women! It's OK. We'll wait."
But being a person costs a lot of money, and I moved back in with my parents instead. What was intended to be only a few months turned into a stay that lasted well into the next year. In that time, I learned a few surprising things from the experience, things that were way more substantial than the singular thing I expected to find out: you talk to your dad every day, and all hope dies.
#5. The Way You Make Friends Changes
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Growing up, your choice of friends is usually based around proximity and interests. For all its faults, the public education system has created an extremely effective method for crowding adolescents together and forcing them to pick sides. Unless you're one of those 12-year-old musical prodigies or Daniel Radcliffe, you really have nothing to separate you from the pack of kids whose greatest achievement is passing the grade prior to the one they're in now. You're left with nothing but your interests, whether they be sports or video games or video games about sports, the last one rendering you permanently insufferable.
College tends to divide people based on who they want to be. The people who want to light up Broadway are paired with other future waiters. The people who hold up pictures of dead fetuses in the middle of campus will catch the eyes of other abortion protestors in the Elementary Education building, and sparks will fly. The people who want to get drunk after their business exams will inevitably seek like-minded souls, and together they'll throw a couch off of my friend Tim's porch.
Though, to be fair, that's when the house stopped smelling weird.
Post-college looks at the wreckage and piles people into groups based on what they're doing. I was living at home, so my pickings were getting slimmer and slimmer. The place I was an intern at was filled with older people who had actual jobs and spouses and children, so they had no desire to join a desperate me for drinks after 5. I had remained friends with a scant few that I'd known in high school, but most of them had left for other parts of the state and country, and I hung out with them only when they visited town and felt enough sympathy to yell my name three times into the cave.
In a few of these friendships, I turned into an elephant in the room, with a sign over my head that read "Was Once Promising." It was a weird feeling brought on both by my friends' newfound senses of freedom and success and by my own insecurities. I felt that I now had to prove myself against former buddies whose lives had officially "started." It instilled a bitterness in me that took a while to shake off. Living with your parents, in common culture, is a scarlet letter that is shaped like your mom's face with the time that you're recommended to come home by stamped under it.
Topped off with the ever-present blanket of disappointment.
Making friends when you live at home after college is like doing inventory at a store that's just been looted. Sometimes, there are surprising finds, and I strengthened a few bonds with people who also were stuck trying to decide the right direction for their lives that didn't include sleeping in their childhood bed. But, mostly, unless you're working at a job or have hobbies that include more people than you, you won't find a lot of acquaintances that you can form actual, non-computer relationships with. It would have been far easier, though, if for a bit I hadn't convinced myself that you have more inherent worth as a person when you live on your own.
#4. You Ruin Nostalgia
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To me, nostalgia will always be represented by discovering my old Game Boys in a desk drawer. They only had a bit of dust on them, and the batteries in them hadn't begun to leak out, so they were still aesthetically pleasing. They were filled with the cartridges of Pokemon Red, The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons, and Heroes of Might and Magic, so I would have no trouble finding ways to make them produce joy. And, when I flicked the "On" button, they all powered up, and I was able to play them again. And play them I did, with the exception of Heroes of Might and Magic, a game created by frustrated wizards attempting to ruin the 2000 Christmas season.
The biggest problem with nostalgia is that it's a ghost of an emotion. That's not saying that if you like something when you're young you can't rediscover it and like it equally, or more, later. I loved comics as a child, spent all of middle school telling my classmates that comics were training pants for premature ejaculators, and was fixated on The Dark Knight Returns while my high school chemistry project group careened its way through a Barnes & Noble study session. Legitimate interest clings to you in a way that nostalgia doesn't. Nostalgia flees almost as quickly as it creeps up on you.
It seems like only yesterday that mom finally told me I was a boy.
Nostalgia can't sustain you in a way that passion can. I no longer had passion for these little Nintendo rectangles, and, after that warm feeling of "Remember when games just had two buttons to press? I totally agree with you, list of things you'll only understand if you were born in 1989" left, they simply took up space. And since I lived at home, I wasn't able to forget about them and rediscover them at a later time. I was stuck with them and was constantly reminded by them of an era that I had been desperate to escape. I had put away my childish things, and now they were back to haunt me.
For things like Game Boy games, I'd built a shield of irony. They're enjoyable, but, when pressured by the adult world to shape up and start a 401(k), they're deemed suitable only if you laugh them off later. "Haha, yeah. I still play Pokemon, but I only do it because, you know, retro. #tbt." And since there had been no significant separation between me and those games, I couldn't even use the lame "hey, nostalgia" excuse. Without that time and distance between you and your memories, nostalgia is exactly as possible as making a heroin cake without flour and promises of a sober tomorrow.
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You don't eat heroin cake. You absorb it into your soul.
#3. Your Search for a Purpose Explodes ... or Dies Entirely
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As I mentioned in the introduction, most of my purpose in life up until I turned 22 was based around acquiring fame for little to no work and getting laid. College "prepared" me for a life of the first and an everlasting bumbling hurtle toward the second. I was getting a degree that would, statistically, put me in line for better jobs than the majority of people who hadn't gotten these coveted slips of paper that announced THIS HONORABLE HUMAN BEING WILL MAKE THE MONEY, GATHER THE RESPECT, AND HAVE ALL THE VACATION TIME THAT HE WANTS.
I had been worked up into a misguided motivational frenzy, only to hit a wall that looked surprisingly like the room I used to hide porn in. I had been granted a worldview that seemed limitless. I wouldn't have to worry about a career, because it would be handed to me, as I'd made a C in a course that was vaguely related to it. Experience? Who needs experience in their field when they went to class at 8 in the morning for five months? College was going to be the giant henchman behind me who headbutted people that I disagreed with. It was a deus ex machina for my laziest characteristics.
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Perhaps you should send my rejection letter to my pals Bachelor and Degree.
The first few months were rough. I felt defeated, as if I'd been led astray somehow. I was on a path that could have been clearly predicted with logic and foresight, but I took it as a betrayal of my potential. It took a long, hard look at myself to change that. I had certain goals that needed tinkering. No, since I was living at home, I probably wouldn't be able to direct Wrong Turn 7 at age 22 (I never said they were fucking good goals). But I was able to switch around a few of the circumstances, and I realized that there were certain things that I wanted to accomplish now. They weren't the same as the extravagant goals that I'd formed in college, nor did they have their importance lessened because they were more realistic. But they were goals, and I formed them when I just as easily could have pouted and rewatched Wrong Turns 1 Through 6.
So many facets of life are centered on not living with your parents anymore, whether it be financial things or adhering to the popular societal standard that tells you that living at home sends a jamming signal to the radar of every vagina in town. Moving back in with your parents can remove the shackles that bind you to whatever former incentives that you had, and you remove standards that are sometimes there for a good reason. You can collect as many jars of urine as you want now, because you don't have to conform. And in that first month of staying under my parent's roof, before I switched gears, my emotional shelf was just a cannery of piss. And there's not a lot of drive to go do anything else once you've become too accustomed to the smell of pee.
Don't judge me. Some video games just don't have a pause function.
I sincerely need to work on my metaphors.