Moving back home after graduation is always a huge transition. Some people have to get used to sleeping with pants again, while others struggle to find themselves in their childhood bedroom. Most graduates are grateful that the days of scavenging for food and ready-to-eat meals are over. But there are those that miss those wild nights out with their friends. Nights where you can’t pin down exactly what happened or how but you remember feeling happy.

If I could condense it all into one memory, it would look like eating take-out food on the worn-out carpet in a room lit only by fairy lights with friends. We would pause as the door swings open and someone I’ve never seen before passes through. My friends and I laugh once they’re out of earshot before picking back up at where we left off. “Yes, she can give mean massages but no! That’s so ‘male-gazey’ of you to say.” I look around the room and feel a little pride because it’s home.

Upon moving home after her university experience, a friend’s parent once told her, “You’ve had your fun. Now it’s over.” It’s harsh. It’s bold. And it’s true.

My roommates and I made it feel homey through our endless trips to IKEA to purchase houseplants, sturdy hooks for our paintings, and coveted fruit bowls. When moving home, there are those of us that miss that sensation, that pride of being independent. Or the feeling of closeness with people that make sense to you, just as you know you make sense to them.

Sometimes, however, the nostalgia feels even more drastic. All at once, I realized that I was not just missing these people that I used to be around, but missing me

 Upon moving home after her university experience, a friend’s parent once told her, “You’ve had your fun. Now it’s over.” It’s harsh. It’s bold. And it’s true.

All at once, I realized that I was not just missing these people that I used to be around, but missing me

My time was certainly coming to a close. As I looked over my packed-up college dorm room, I felt a strange surge of panic. I was afraid that I wouldn’t ever live independently again. I thought about moving to another city and starting a new adventure. But more than wanting a change of scene, I was mostly spurred on by the fact that no unmarried woman in my family has simply moved out of her home. This means that I could not remain in Dubai and live independently from my family.

While I had chatted about finding an apartment to live with a couple of local friends, who were in similar situations, it always seemed a bit like we were playing pretend. I knew deep down, it was all wishful thinking as if we all weren’t actually a week away from moving back home.

For me, and many others, coming back home meant a complete lifestyle flip. It felt like leaving behind a version of yourself that you were just discovering; the you that is independent of family and other codes of normalcy. 

There were simple things. I still feel strange getting ready in the morning without putting on colorful eyeshadow. Now, putting any sort of effort into my appearance is completely out of place. If I happen to, those around me observe me strangely. Perhaps when I walked through the door, I was supposed to revert to the withdrawn high-school chapter of myself. Or at least wear the costume of her. 

It felt like leaving behind a version of yourself that you were just discovering; the you that is independent of family and other codes of normalcy. 

I get it. It is the version of myself that my family is acquainted with. It is the version that makes them the most comfortable. Though I wonder why it is mainly girls that feel like they have to go through this adjustment period. I have noticed that it is mostly women who try to tone themselves down when they’re moving back home.

There was a feeling that we could not act the way we did on our college campuses as it would be seen as too ‘liberal’ for the family setting. It is not that I was living some sort of double life (although I can appreciate that many girls do resort to this). I simply grew out of my shell.

I had been roaming around, seeing what type of person I could become. But now I have returned. And my less liberal high-school shell is fine enough. It’s familiar and worn-in. But it is a guest house. Although I feel at home, I know it is not my final dwelling. I just can’t figure out how to present myself there. Yet at the same time, I don’t have any answers to the questions of what comes next and where I want to be as I am still trying to see where I fit.

Can I ever let go of that other ‘me’? I will have to because I know a lot of us are staying put. It wasn’t our grand idea of post-graduate life but this is where we will be for now or a little longer. Given the current circumstances, it seems that the latter is true.

As graduate schools are moving online and jobs are becoming more and more remote, it seems as if we are in this for the long haul. I wish I knew how to wrap this all up in a way that gives advice to anyone else feeling this way. But I suppose that this is all part of a personal evolution. Even if it feels like one that is not according to plan. 


https://thetempest.co/?p=138531
Amal Als

By Amal Als

Editorial Fellow