What Entering The World Of Adulting From My Childhood Home Taught Me

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6 min read

Adulting is hard. But it might just be a little harder to do amidst the childhood memories, adolescent angst, and teenage dreams trapped inside the four walls of the bedroom you grew up in.

I will most likely be moving out of the house I currently live in in the next few months. It’s the house I grew up in ﹘ a house that has been a home for almost 19 years now. Not a lot of people in their 20s can say that they’ve lived under the same roof for the last two decades. It’s what growing up does to you – it displaces you from the spaces you once called home and forces you to find new homes in new spaces.

But recently I’ve wondered whether it’s really the other way around. That a displacement from your spaces of comfort may be key to really allowing you to grow up.

I’ve Lived In The Same Space All My Life

I did all of my schooling ﹘ right from kindergarten to the tenth grade ﹘ at a school that was 5 minutes from home, and the next two years at a high school that was 30 minutes away. When the time came to pursue an undergraduate degree, I got into the course I wanted to pursue at a college in the same city. It required a tedious hour-long journey every day, but that never warranted a reason to move out (it is Mumbai after all, what can you expect). I discovered, learned, and grew up in these spaces outside of my house, but lived in the same home every day.

It isn’t uncommon in India for people to still be living at home when graduating at 21. I assumed I would leave when pursuing my Masters, but I wanted to gain some work experience first.

Work. The true grown-up experience. Being in a professional environment. Earning your own living. Managing your money. Having ideas and actual responsibilities. Maintaining a work-life balance.

I remember how I felt walking up to the office for the interview that would eventually become my first job. How it felt to stand in an elevator filled with people dressed in business casuals, chatting about a presentation they were to give. The pang of excitement when I wondered if that empty chair in the corner would be my corner if I was hired. The thrill of coming out of the interview, buying a cup of coffee and walking to the train station.

The call back came two days after my interview, and the country-wide lockdown was implemented on the third day.

The Pandemic Caused A Lot Of Us To Go Back To Or Continue To Stay In Our Childhood Spaces

I started my job soon after from within the confines of the same bedroom that had seen me lose my first milk tooth and misspell the word envelope (“enlovope”) three times in a letter to the tooth fairy. The business casuals I dreamed of were replaced by old pajamas, my work chair the same one I’ve had since the 7th grade, and coffee I have made only with Nescafe instant coffee sachets.

The desk I spend so many hours at —in virtual meetings, creating task lists, messaging on Slack, and typing out articles — is the same one I would spend hours at trying to ‘by-heart’ Biology definitions. The bed I sometimes work in on lazy mornings is in the same spot that me and my friends would use as a “cliff” during our imaginary games. The rug in the corner still has a stain from when I’d spilled foundation on it in my teenage years. I had to drag a chair to the window and climb on top to watch the now massive and magnificent tree outside my window be planted.  

Image source: pbs.com

It’s definitely surprising to be experiencing adulthood, becoming financially independent, and even feeling the desire to ‘adult’ in this space, but it’s also a little disorienting.

Anyone who is currently working, or even simply living as an adult, in their childhood home can attest to this feeling. The pandemic has forced a lot of us to unexpectedly come back to or continue to stay in the spaces we’ve called home since we were children.

Is it possible for a space that is so heavily steeped in nostalgia to allow you to actually move on, grow up, and be the next best version of yourself?

The answer a year ago would have been, probably not. The answer during the pandemic, however, is that it might have to be possible.

It’s Easy To Feel Like You’re Living On Pause, But It’s Time To Hit Play Again

The choice to move out of this home is not one a lot of people can make right now, be it for financial, medical, or other reasons.

But the physical space around you impacts you in a myriad of ways, and I’ve tried to ensure my all-too-familiar one keeps up with me as I change, and doesn’t stifle who I’m becoming. I chose and bought the bed sheets that are on my bed. My desk is less cluttered and its drawers less messy. The notebook I use to track my expenses and savings is always out. I’ve added plants around me and the watering can is always at reach (I’ve learned from my first few tragedies as a plant mom). The foundation-stained rug has finally been replaced.

Having to live in a space that is familiar doesn’t have to mean you become complacent or restricted. Displacement from your space of comfort can certainly aid and accelerate your entry into the next chapter of your life, but being unable to displace yourself doesn’t have to mean you’re living on pause or stuck in the same chapter.

Change up your space. Make it conducive to who you are as well as who you wish to become. Set your boundaries at home. Revel in the positive memories you’ve had in this home, and in the fact that you’re currently making new ones.

As I prepare to move out of this space that has been and always will be a home, I’m excited for the next chapter the move will bring. But I’ll also be bringing several items and memories from this old space with me into the new one. I know I can’t be the ‘grown-up adult’ that I will continue to evolve into, without them.

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Sanjana writes far too little to call herself a writer and reads far too much pop-culture fiction to call herself a reader. She once received a Special Mention for the Best Young Critic Award by MAMI, and refuses to stop talking about it. Her love for films, art, and theatre runs deep and is only borderline pretentious. She detests writing in third person but can be convinced to engage in it occasionally.

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