Posted by: GeekHiker | September 26, 2012

Home Is Where The Frustration Is

My parents are truly wonderful people.  And I’m not even saying that with some ulterior motive: as an only child, I don’t have to out-ass-kiss any siblings to try and get my share of the inheritance.  Yep, that’s a truly honest sentiment I’m expressing there.

Since I returned to the States in mid-July following, for lack of a better word, a bit of “drama” abroad, they’ve openly allowed me to stay at their place.  They’ve given me lodging, allowed me to park my car in their garage, start looking for work and my career path, and let me partake of their food.  All without charging me rent.

Which is why I’m pretty sure it makes me a horribly ungrateful bastard of a son to admit that living with my parents is driving me up the frakking wall.

Typing those words in, frankly, makes me feel like I’m writing the blog of a teenager and not someone who (supposedly) moved out on his own 20 years ago.  That’s the root of the problem, really: I’m so used to living on my own, to having my own space, that I’m not quite sure how to not have it again.  To some degree, it’s a cumulative thing as well: the last time I was truly living solo, ruling over my own space, was when I moved out of my apartment last July, and I haven’t gone to bed in an empty room/house since I started traveling in February, between houses and hostels and the like.

The upshot is that it’s had and odd and unexpected effect: throttling my creativity and motivation.  Whether it’s because life is actually too easy at the moment (not that I’m saying I want to trade it for being homeless on the streets or anything) or the fact that I’ve been in the close proximity of people for a long stretch of time, I can’t be sure.  All I do know is that I’ve felt strangely unmotivated on all fronts: be it blogging or writing about the trip, going through photographs or working on the job search, I’ve had to mentally force myself to engage with things, and to only varying degrees of success.  The aforementioned 18,000 photographs remain completely untouched, for example.

One the one hand, I want to think it’s simply an issue of space.  For the past few months, while I’ve been in hostel dorms and hotel rooms, I’ve been stuck interacting with people on a constant basis.  On balance, that experience has been a good thing, but in the context of this lack of motivation, not so much.  At my parent’s house, I do have the guest room, but it is most definitively the guest room: there’s little room for anything there besides the bed, it’s decorated with my parent’s decorations, the closets are filled with their things, and my parent’s feel free to knock on the door and chat anytime they choose.  There’s certainly no desk space for me to spread out multiple projects, leave anything I’m working on for any space of time, or have a guaranteed space of solo time in which to work.  As a remedy, I’ve been working at the less-distracting public library, but that too has its limitations: the space certainly isn’t private, and I can’t easily organize as everything has to go back into the backpack when I leave at closing time.

So, yes, space is an issue.

On the other hand, I think it’s also an issue that’s as old as time: the relationship between parents and their children.  Parents never really stop parenting their kids, and I think this is especially true in my case, being an only child and all that that entails.  And while it’s hard to complain about the caring and attention (after all, who in their right mind would complain about having parents who care deeply about their well-being?), the focus that comes with all that attention can be overpowering.  Although they’ve endeavored not to ask too often, they’re still curious about what I’m doing and what progress I’m making, and I know it’s always on their minds.  Ultimately, I end up feeling constantly on my toes, because I never know when (at dinner? in the morning? before I go to bed?) they might ask about my activity and progress on the job front, and that I should be prepared to answer.

I know what you’re thinking: that pressure is entirely self-imposed.  To some degree, yes.  The problem is that my parents are also my landlords, ones who aren’t charging me rent.  This leaves them in a vested, and valid, position of rightfully knowing that I’m not becoming a shiftless bum who intends to live in their (allegorical) basement forever.

Hope, though, may be on the horizon.

In a couple of weeks, I’m scheduled to move into a nearby apartment.  Admittedly, I’d like to move further, but as I don’t know where I’ll end up (my job-search-area essentially amounts to “The West Coast”), the fact that rent is somewhat cheaper here, I could get a short-term lease, and what’s left of my belongings are in a nearby storage facility, it seemed the most logical choice.  It still feels like the place I’m moving to is too expensive, but maybe that will be motivation as well.  Moreover, perhaps having a little bit of solo time, as well as my own workspace, we reinvigorate me.

Now, if I could just get rid of my fear: what if all my theories are wrong, and my malaise comes from a different source I haven’t yet thought of…?



  1. Some of the malaise may come from the very human feeling of a lack of security — your life has been uprooted and you don’t know when/how/etc. it will feel stable again with a steady income at a job that you enjoy. I really feel like there is more of an influence on stability to happiness than people realize. I know when I moved a lot and didn’t know where I’d be next, it really bothered me at a core level. Even now, a certain instability (though present for a while) bothers me. About the productivity thing, what you say makes perfect sense. You don’t have space to work on stuff and the amount of stuff to work on is overwhelming and hard to do in huge, long stretches. If you don’t have a good filing system, buy a good portable file (or whatever tools to aid you cart it around. Once I used free tyvec post office mailers to categorize stuff when I was in this boat.

  2. For me, malaise and lack of motivation hit when I don’t have any strict deadlines to adhere to. Maybe setting some specific goals for yourself (apply to X number of jobs, sort through X number of photos, write X number of blog posts), even though artificial, would give you some of that motivation back?

    As for living with the parents as an adult, I totally hear you. After living on my own for two years, I moved back in with my parents for my first year of grad school, and it was almost unbearable. I don’t think it has anything to do with lack of gratitude, but rather with the difficulty of going back to being a full-time child after living on your own as an adult.

  3. FWIW, my parents (who are very dear to me) drive me up the wall if I stay with them (or vice versa) for anything longer than about two weeks…

  4. I live about 15 minutes from my Mom and I may see her … once a month or so. I think we would both get on each other’s nerves if we had to spend more time together.

    My only advice to you, and frankly I have no right to give you advice, would be to concentrate on the job search and save the pictures/travel posts for later. As ‘me’ said above, stability is important for your mental well being. Once things are stable, you will find time to publicly reminisce.

  5. Wow I have to commend you on being able to live with your parents for as long as you have. You have a really good attitude about it – even if you’re frustrated. I don’t think I could last more than about 4 days with mine without forking myself in the eye.

    Since everyone is dispensing advice here, I’ll throw in mine: Just be clear on the the feeling you’re looking to get from the job. Freedom? Joy? Satisfaction? Fame? All of the above? Sometimes that’s more important than the job itself.

  6. I moved back home with my parents last May. The BEST piece of advice I got, and will now share with you is this: Contribute, Communicate and get out of the house on a regular basis. This is a transition for them too!. Contribute: I cook dinner once or twice a week, and I make sure to clean various rooms as needed. I sit with my parents at breakfast and we share our plans for the day. I also include a frequent reminder of “This is where I’m at in the grand plan,and this is the end goal I’m working towards” so they don’t need to ask me. I also let them know when and how long I plan to work on a project so they’re aware that I need a little alone time to focus, and we can coordinate our lives better. Get out of the house: I wish this began with a “c”. Anyway, get out by yourself on a regular basis. Thanks to communication, I plan to stay home sometimes when my parents have going out plans, and sometimes plan to go out when they’re at home. that way, everyone has an opportunity to get the house to themselves, and go out too. Even if all I do is sit at a starbucks, it’s something!

    The biggest thing I had to learn was communicate. It’s weird going from quietly thinking to yourself and being alone to realizing the people around you can’t hear you thinking. Once I started talkin about my plans and goals, my mother stopped looking at me like I was going to end up in a cardboard box eating catfood.
    Good luck, buddy!

  7. […] or travel post, what about a post about dating? Or, worse, about them?  Let’s face it, this post isn’t exactly something I think they’d enjoy reading.  Besides, as I discovered […]

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