Sibongile Mafu

Get 'em out the house!

2013-07-25 10:50

Sibongile Mafu

There's a particular way you map out your life when you're younger. You have a vague (almost always wholly incorrect) idea of what career path you'll choose, what kind of person you'll end up with, how many children you'll have (along with what gender they'll be, of course) and maybe even what kind of double-storey house you'll inhabit.

I painted a picture of my future awesome life during high school and decided then that I'd pretty much have it all figured when I was in varsity, all to the soundtrack of The Sound of Music. How hard could this life thing be? Imagine the horror when it turned out that nothing would work out how I day-dreamed it would.

There's a huge possibility that you may only start figuring out what you want to do and how you want to live many, many, many years after you've left school. Or never, but that's another story. You think you'll graduate, find a great job and a great apartment and live a full life but then life has other ideas. Life starts happening. And it kicks off with the frightening possibility that you'll need to move back home.

Different circumstances

In a recent article titled, "When your adult child moves back home", the writer Mari-Jane Williams takes us through the story of a woman living with her three adult children, two of them recent graduates. She now has to navigate this new space of being a mom to grown-ups who are still living under her roof, something more and more parents have to deal with, even if their children are employed.

Williams suggests ways in which this process can be made easier - the children pay some kind of rent, do chores around the house and save in order to give themselves a chance to move out later. All very great and useful, but still begs the question: When is the "right" time to leave home?

I've had countless conversations with my friends about this, all living in different circumstances, and all obviously with different responses. I left home six months after I graduated because the job I got was in Cape Town, not necessarily because I was ready to leave the folks and the home I grew up in. But it was nice to leave and be congratulated for my independence and big girl decision-making.

There was a general feeling of "oh, at least you're out of the house", and "you're lucky, some people live with their parents for years after they graduate, some never leave".  I felt a general sense of haughtiness and achievement of what a great young person I was turning out to be. I wasn't burdening my parents, I was paying my way. There's no better feeling than that right?

Difficult journey

But I didn't make any kind of decision to be financially independent. The decision made itself.

There are others who are fortunate enough to live and work in the same city as their parents, but still choose to find their own places to stay, far away from the family home, and then there are those who don't see the point of moving out of home and paying extortionate rental prices for places they don't love.

But a stigma floats over these people, a stigma that they don’t quite have their lives together or that time is running out for them to get it together.

We cannot be handing out accolades just for simple acts like moving out of home. Sometimes the most difficult journey is choosing to stay at home, showing some patience (especially when this life thing gets hard) and getting out the other side as close to one piece as possible.

- Sibongile is a videographer, blogger and social media enthusiast who would be nothing without her thumbs. Follow her on Twitter: @SboshMafu.

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