Book Review: The Defining Decade

There are fewer things as of late that make me happier than chilling in my bed with a book and reading right before I go to sleep. As I mentioned in  a previous post, one of my goals this year was to read one book a month, every month. While I can’t say I’ve managed to do that…I am pretty close to having read 7 books so far this year. I decided instead of just reading these books, taking notes, and going on the next book, I wanted to start sharing the books I really liked with my readers by starting a new series dedicated to reviewing books I’ve read. My main focus will be books I believe twenty-somethings should read. That being said, it is more than fitting my first book review is on one of my favorite reads this year “The Defining Decade: Why your twenties matter—and how to make the most of them now” by Meg Jay, PhD.

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The thing I enjoyed about this book was how much applicable advice it has for twentysomethings going through the post-grad struggle. From finding a job, to relationships and marriage, and even family planning, this book touches on topics that many of us like to put off as some abstract thing in the distant future when really…the future will be here before we even have time to blink. Okay, I’m being dramatic but that’s only because the author does such a great job of making the reader come to the realization that future is not as far off as we believe (or try to convince ourselves) it to be. Now is the time for us to not get caught up in going with the flow but to  actually make plans and lay the foundation for the rest of our lives while we have the least amount of strings (read: life partners, spouses, children) attached, according to Jay. She is a therapist and discusses her various twentysomething year old clients, their struggles, and solutions to the common twentysomething year old’s problems. I like this book because for once, there is a book talking to twentysomethings instead of about us. In this review I will share my three favorite quotes, two criticisms, and one overall review of the book and who I think should read the book.

1. “Shoulds can masquerade as high standards or lofty goals, but they are not the same. Goals direct us from the inside, but shoulds are paralyzing judgments from the outside. Goals feel like authentic dreams while shoulds feel like oppressive obligations.” pg. 47

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I particularly enjoy this quote because in the social media age everyone is guilty of comparing ourselves to our peers based on what they are uploading on their profiles, the new job they just got, their engagement announcement, etc. However, as Jay reminds us, thinking we should have these things based on what we see on social media (in the book she is actually talking about Facebook but I think it can apply to all social media we use) is detrimental to our well-being. I really enjoyed the chapter this quote is from.

2. “More and more twentysomethings are careful not to rush into marriage at a young age, yet many do not know what else to consider.” pg. 73

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When talking about twentysomethings and relationships (or meaningless hookups) Jay holds no punches. She gets really real about random hookups, cohabitation (living with a partner before being married), and actual marriage. I enjoyed this section because even now I am still guilty of putting off marriage in hopes that it will make for a better marriage but that is not realistic. The chapter on love was a good gut check for me and I’m sure it will be for any twentysomething “living in the moment” when it comes to love and relationships. It also offers suggestions of traits/values that partners should have similarities on before deciding to take the next step, and other stats (which she provides citations for) in regards to loving together before marriage, a list of other things that come up in relationships.

3. “Most twentysomethings can’t write the last sentence of their lives, but when pressed, they usually can identify things they want in their thirties or forties or sixties—or things they don’t want—and work backwards from there.” pg 198 (last page before the epilogue)

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I think this was a great quote to end on before the epilogue. Many times the idea of the future can be daunting and overwhelming. However, the beautiful things about our twenties is that we can get really honest with ourselves and decide what it is we truly want our lives to look like and make the changes/take the steps towards doing those things and stop our behaviors that are getting in the way of that. We may not know what our twenties have in store but with some deep reflection and introspection I’m sure we can decide what we at least want our lives to look like when it’s all said and done and Jay reminds us of that.

Criticisms of the book:

Although I honestly love this book very much and it has been one of my favorite reads of 2018, that’s not to say the book doesn’t have some flaws. I will be discussing two of them.

1. This book is aimed towards a very specific type of twentysomething: non-married college grads with no kids.

While non-college grads twentysomethings who may or may not have kids could probably take the meat of what is written in Jay’s novel, the novel does work around the fact that our twenties are the best time for us to do x, y, and z because we don’t have children (yet) or aren’t married (yet) and thus doing certain things to advance our careers and lives, etc are easier. I don’t think much of the advice would be as relatable to me if I wasn’t a college grad or at least in college right now. However, the overall theme of the book would be: the twenties set the foundation for the rest of your life. Because let’s face it, they do.

2. This book assumes that every twentysomething wants a (heteronormative) monogamous relationship with children to come soon after marriage.

The times are changing and I know many people, especially women who don’t want children, ever. Even for those who may struggle with fertility, the section on getting older and fertility doesn’t even suggest adoption or anything of the sort, only being mindful of not putting off having children when you are too old. Either way, there is a specific lifestyle in mind when Jay is writing which I think is fine, people should stick to lakes and rivers they’re used to but for those who may not adhere to these things, especially the desire to have children, a good section of the book might be useless. That’s not to say the rest of the book is useless. I’m sure all twentysomethings can find a piece of advice in this book that is relatable, but a only a certain type of twentysomething will be able to relate to all of it.

Overall Rating: 8.5

I really enjoyed this book but as I have mentioned, I very much fall into the intended audience demographic. For those who find themselves in the post-grad struggle, unsure about their current non-career related job, love and relationships, and exactly when they should entertain the idea of children this book is a MUST READ! I do think ALL twentysomethings could stand to read it and learn a thing or two that relates to the uncertainty that comes with our twenties and “making the best” out of them.

Do you think you will be giving “The Defining Decade” a read? What do you think is a good book for twentysomethings to read? Let me know in the comments!

4 Tips For Winning The Battle Against Your Post-Grad Blues

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Post-grad blues are no joke. While everyone is not affected by these feelings of sadness once they walk across that stage, many people do. I know when I graduated I got my degree and said “now what?” while I waited to go back to school. In today’s post I’m suggesting some things that helped me get through the trying times of  battling with post-grad blues with at least a little bit of my sanity left. These tips can also help anyone who may just find themselves feeling down. Whether you are unemployed or not, these tips will certainly change your life.

Wake-Up and Say Those Affirmations!

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The post-grad blues period after graduating can definitely get you down (they don’t call it post-grad blues for nothin’). One way I battled this overwhelming sense of emptiness and lack of purpose was through repeating affirmations to myself every morning when I woke up. While each person has to determine what they want out of life to come up with their own, I think the ones I used during this rough time are definitely a good place to start. Here are a few of the many affirmations I told myself during my time being unemployed. Some of these I still use now! I found these at this article here.

  1. My body is healthy, my mind is brilliant, my soul is tranquil.
  2. I am at peace with all that has happened, is happening, and will happen.
  3. I deserve to be employed and paid well for my time, efforts, and ideas. Each day, I am closer to finding the perfect job for me.

Start with these and even tweak them to your style if you want. All that matters is you remind yourself that you are deserving and destined for greatness!

Journal About Your Feelings Towards Being Graduated (and your feelings in general)

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For people like myself, it is easy to start feeling down when you are trying to find employment or have too much free time on your hands after graduating. One thing I have made more of a consistent habit is journaling. I try* process all my feelings by journaling at least 3 times a week. When I was unemployed I wrote about how being unemployed made me feel (leave out nothing…even the feelings of worthlessness and sadness). I’ve vented my frustrations and promised myself that I will never take being employed for granted again. While it is usual to complain about one’s job (unless it’s your dream job, which mine is being an attorney so I’m a long ways off), to be ungrateful for one’s job is not good for the soul. In cases where your boss is a jerk it’s different but at the same time, I have always hated being unemployed more than having a job I hate (blame my materialistic desires and FOMO). I hope to look back on my unemployment entries of journal should I ever start hating my jobs (hopefully I won’t).

Find a New Hobby or Invest Time in an Old One

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Whether you’ve always loved painting but college got in the way, or you want to learn how to dance salsa, or anything in between you have plenty of time to do it in your down time on the post-grad job search. One thing I started doing again while I was unemployed is reading. One of my goals this year is to read two books a month and it hasn’t been hard thus far considering I didn’t have really anything better to do. Another hobby I dedicated more time to while I was unemployed was blogging. It felt good to be doing things I wanted to do in undergrad that I simply didn’t have the time to do.

Get Off Your Ass and Get Active

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Seriously! This one is a good morale booster. Whether I was dancing, working out, going for a walk, jog, or run, dedicating time to working out wasn’t something I did until towards the end of my unemployment and I wish I had a started sooner. Not only do you have time to figure out what kind of workouts you love, you can find a purpose in setting non-work related goals. One of my goals when I was employed was to walk at least 10,000 steps a day. This doesn’t sound like a lot but there would be days when I was unemployed where I sat around ALL day and barely clocked in 2,000 steps, YIKES! If you’re currently unemployed it doesn’t mean you have to sit around all day and become a sloth (I was guilty of this for a while).

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The post-grad “Damn I don’t have a job” depression is real and it can take over your mind, body, and spirit if you let it. Even if you are employed, being out of school after being in school your whole life is a rough transition for me. I have suffered from the deepest of post-grad blues and it is not pretty. Even if you are employed there are times where you can find yourself missing being in undergrad and carefree. The key to surviving this turbulent transition in life is to happen to it instead of allowing it to happen to you. If you already have a job it can be even easier to get caught up in the motions and find yourself still battling those post-grad blues. Find balance between keeping yourself busy and doing things you love. When you’re unemployed, finding things to occupy your time during your job search (and make sure you are ACTIVELY searching) will make the time in between graduation and being unemployed fly by.  You may even walk away from it being more enlightened, educated, and experienced person than the day you got your degree. If you don’t have a job or haven’t taken steps towards career yet, don’t beat yourself up about it. These things take time and there is always a lesson in the struggle! ALWAYS.

(Author’s Note: If you think you suffer from depression or any other mental illness, contact a professional for help. These tips will not cure depression.)

Why the December LSAT and I broke up, for Good this Time.

Anyone who knows me really well knows that I have wanted to be a lawyer since I was in high school. Even in undergrad whenever we had to do the “picture yourself at your retirement party” exercises I was always retired from a career as an attorney and still heavily involved in philanthropic activities. I literally don’t know what I would do or who I would be in the future if I didn’t become a lawyer at some point in time. It’s what I’m most passionate about for my future. With all that being said, it came as a surprise to many people when I decided that I was no longer taking the December LSAT. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the applying to law school process, the LSAT is the Law School Admissions Test. Anyone who wants to get into Law School  has to take it. I have been talking about taking this test in December since I graduated in May and like I stated earlier, I decided against the December LSAT a few days ago. This was met with some apprehension by myself and even more by certain friends and family members. The process of coming to this decision made me realize some things about myself. There are quite a few reasons I decided not to go through with it and this entry is where I’m going to go into detail about them and be completely honest.
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One of the primary reasons I decided against taking the LSAT in December is because it honestly was not a top priority in the these last post-grad months. Since I’ve graduated I’ve worked to save up money for my trip to Ohio (and other trips and/or activities) and then I did the things that I had wanted to do while I was in undergrad but never had time time to do. Even when everyone around me could see that I was just been traveling and enjoying my time as an alumna, I still had tried to trick myself into believing that the LSAT was my priority. Plot twist: it never was. I listen to a number of podcasts and I can’t remember who said it exactly but on one of them I heard “if you want to know what’s important to you, look at how you spend your money.” What have I been spending my money on? Not the LSAT, that’s for sure. I’ve been traveling to different places, eating different foods, and just doing things I enjoy that I had to limit when I was still in school. That’s what I care about and why I decided to take time off from school once I graduated; I wanted to go places I haven’t been and see things I haven’t seen. My money hasn’t gone towards the LSAT and my prep course was barely paid for in the end of September because it just kept getting put off by me studying on my own (Note to self: this is ineffective, I have never been someone who could just read a book and figure out everything that was going on). I’m not exactly proud of how all this has played out but it has taught me that what I was saying and what I actually wanted were not aligned with one another.

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Another reason I decided against taking the December LSAT is because my trip to Ohio hasn’t exactly gone as planned. When I first decided to come out here it was to spend time with my family and to study for the LSAT. A little known fact about me is up until last July I hadn’t seen my family for 11 years. Yes you read that right, 11 years! When I came out here last July I was only here for about 4 or 5 days give or take. So needless to say, I haven’t spent an extended time with my family in a long time. Because I bought my prep course in late September and the exam is on the third day of December, I was unbelievably stressed out and trying to overcompensate for my lack of studying in earlier months. This lead to me having to pull 8 hour or more study days while my family was texting me “where are you?” “Come over Tete’s house” “Let’s go get food” “Let’s hang out” and me feeling immensely guilty when I had to tell them I couldn’t because I had to study. I could feel them getting annoyed with my reasons and already not wanting to ask me to do things. In the moments I would put off studying to see them I would be worrying about the exam and feeling like I should be studying instead which made me unable to enjoy my moments with them.  I felt horrible and called my mom stressing out about it. She told me”spend time with your family, don’t worry about the test”, as I was five minutes away from a panic attack. In the moment that she told me that I felt so much relief. Back when I was still undergrad and I decided I wanted to take time off for a year* after graduation…it lead to my mom and I arguing about it. For me to now have her okay meant the world to me. My mom knows how I deal with stress better than most people so she understood why I was calling her. If I had decided to take the December I would have been unhappy and stressed out. I wouldn’t have been the the normal stressed out that comes with academic related endeavors; I would have had anxiety through the roof and my health would have suffered. Which ultimately was the main reason the December LSAT and I broke up.

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Something most people don’t know about me is that in December of last year I started having symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks. Whether I would be sitting down and thinking about the future,  finally able to fall asleep, or anything in between I was having panic attacks. It wasn’t a once in a blue moon type of thing either; these were at least once every two or three days (sometimes even more) type of thing that ultimately lead to me going to my doctor and asking for help. They didn’t think I was anxious enough to be diagnosed with anxiety but they did say that I was stressing myself out entirely too much and I needed to relax. They prescribed me something that treats mild anxiety and sent me on my way. For the entire remainder of my senior year as well as the summer after graduating I would still have them. The worst ones would happen when I was fast asleep and then woke up feeling a sense of urgency and couldn’t breathe or figure out why the hell I was having a panic attack in the middle of the night. Fast forward to now and they still are happening even though they are not as often, they still worry me very much. When people congratulate me on graduating they truly don’t know that the last year of undergrad really took a lot out of me. While I tried to maintain my cool and act like I had everything together I was suffering mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and even physically with my health. This is not uncommon to people in college. By no means am I trying to make myself sound like a victim to things other people haven’t gone through. I know that I’m one of many people to deal with these issues. The point is, I don’t want to feel that way any longer. I don’t miss undergrad. I don’t miss having deadlines on deadlines and balancing working, school, a social life, and time for myself to just chill out and I’ve just realized that those negative feelings are what I’m currently still associating the LSAT and law school with.

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I used to intern with attorneys in San Diego and many of them would tell me “take as much time as you need after you graduate because once you start law school it never stops. You have to take the LSAT, then get into law school, then graduate, then pass the Bar Exam, and then try to find a job, so take as much time as you need!” That’s what I want to do. For the first time since I was 2 years old I don’t HAVE to go to school and I am so excited about it. It makes me feel like I can breathe and enjoy life. Which I feel like I should be able to do. The reason I’ve been trying to follow this strict timeline of my journey to law school isn’t because I wanted to but because I felt like I had to in order to keep up this facade that my life is all great and I’m the girl with the plan who’s got it all together. Also, being the first person in my family to graduate from a four year university (even if it took me five years) puts a great amount of pressure on me as well. Well I’m not going to tolerate it anymore. If I decide to take the LSAT in February and apply for next Fall, great. If I decide to take another year off and just work and save money and take trips when I can, great. The main point is it’s MY decision and no one else’s. I want to embark on this journey to law school when I feel that I’m mentally and emotionally capable of doing so. I busted MY ass being heavily involved in undergrad to have a pretty good resume, a decent GPA, and degree so I should be the person I’m trying to please with my decisions. That’s why I’m not taking the December LSAT and I’m finally starting to be okay with saying it.

Have you ever felt like you HAD to do something in order to keep up your image or not let your family down? Leave a comment and talk about it. 

 

 

 

The Pros and Cons of Moving Back in with Your Parents after Graduating From College

Unlike many others in the position of moving back in with their parents after walking across that big stage and receiving that diploma, I have been 85% sure that I was moving back in with my parents after I graduated since my freshman year of college. It made the most sense to me at the time. Why wouldn’t I move back in with my parents? They had free food, free cable, free WiFi, and I’d always have a room there waiting for me if I needed it. I had always planned on attempting to go to Law School at UNLV so moving back home also had it benefits because I would be able live near the school I was aiming to attend and I could work, start saving up money, and slowly pay back the tens of thousands of student debt I owed. I had the perfect plan…until I actually had to move back in with my parents.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love my parents and I missed them very much in the 5 years I lived away from home. However, there is a difference between the theory of moving back in with one’s parents and actually doing so. I can imagine it would be even worse for those who never had the plans of moving back in with their parents but life happened and that’s where they ended up on their post-grad venture through life. Whatever the case may be, I’m going to share what I believe to be some of the biggest pros and cons to moving back in with your parents after graduating.

PRO: You get to spend more time with your family

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This is one that many people might not think of but this is one of the most important ones for me. As someone who went to a whole different state for my undergrad studies, there are definitely many moments with my family that I missed. From birthdays to random Saturday BBQs for no reason, you miss out on a lot of quality time with the fam when you don’t live with them or near them. If you move back in with your family, you’ll always be there for majority of the things going on.

CON: You no longer have your own place so you have to follow the rules of the house

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This one goes without saying but this has been the hardest adjustment for me. Besides the one year it was mandated for me to live in the Residence Halls at SDSU (go UT!), I always had my own place in undergrad. After my sophomore year, I always had my own room. Living on your own teaches you about yourself and how you live with others. One thing I have learned over the years is that I am messy person (there is a different between messy and dirty, but we’ll get to that another day). My mother on the other hand is one of the neatest, orderly, spic-and-span people to ever walk this earth, I’m certain of it. Now that I live under her and my step-dads roof once again I must make the adjustment back to living under the rules they have a established such as washing the dishes before my mom gets home from work (even if the dishes aren’t mine), and not coming home after a certain hour, and even keeping my room a certain way (it is in the house that is NOT mine, after all). For someone as carefree and constantly challenging authority as myself, this is the hardest part to deal with. You also can’t have sex in your parents house (well I mean you could while they’re not home but that’s just awkward and terrifying to imagine what would happen if you got caught) I have to constantly remind myself that my situation is only temporary and following the rules is the least I can do to not pay rent which brings me to the second pro of moving back home.

PRO: You no longer have to pay rent (usually)

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As someone who struggled in undergrad to maintain paying rent, having money to go out with my friends, having money to buy things I needed, having money to buy things I wanted, paying my credit card bill, and starting a savings account (still have yet to get there); not having to pay rent has definitely been one of the best parts of moving back in with my parents. It’s no secret that the cost of living in San Diego is not the cheapest and rent for your own bedroom can range from $500-$1,000 depending on where you want to live and the amenities provided. Needless to say I was counting down the moments until I would no longer have to pay rent for somewhere to rest my head at night. I am one the fortunate people whose parents don’t need me to take up a full-time or even part time job just to make ends meet. I am very grateful for this fact. While I still haven’t started a savings account or paid my credit card off completely, I have been able to travel without having to worry about paying for it due to my working all Summer to establish “random trip” funds. So far I have gone to Orlando and Jacksonville Florida, back to San Diego for two days, and have plans to go to Washington DC in a week and a half.

CON: Your usual routine and way of doing things can be interrupted at a moment’s notice

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Anyone who knows me knows that I’m obsessed with writing every detail of my day, week, month, and sometimes up to months ahead in my planner. During my final year of undergrad I started experiencing symptoms of anxiety and having a planner to plan everything out really helped me with that. Now that I’ve moved back home, it truly doesn’t matter what I have written down in my planner. If I’m at the house and my parents decide we’re going to dinner that day instead of a week from today, that’s one thing that gets changed. If my mom decides to take a weekend staycation to Pahrump and needs someone to take care of her dog, guess who has to take on the burden of a small yorkie who was raised to believe she is a princess reincarnated into a dog? Me. Now these are only a few examples and sometimes the things that my plans get replaced with are fun. However, sometimes it stresses me out. This was one thing I hardly ever had to worry about when I lived on my own and was in school. My days were planned out between work, internship, classes, gym, sorority, and whatever other shenanigans I could get myself into. My mom doesn’t understand my asking for her to give me a two weeks notice for all requests and activities.

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I don’t know it’s something we go through after we turn 20ish but our moms suddenly become full of wisdom we didn’t realize was there in our teenage years. Either this or we were just too busy being teenagers to notice that mom’s know EVERYTHING. If Google can’t help me figure something out, my mom will know how to figure it out herself. Even though we sometimes, often times, bump heads (I blame it on us both being fire signs but that’s just me), My mom is one of my best friends and there is something comforting about living in the same house as her just in case I get sick or need advice and maybe sometimes even a hug. The first time around of living with her I was a teenage girl who thought I knew every damn thing. Now I’m a 23 year old who realizes I may be older but I still don’t know shit…but my mom does.

CON:You sometimes get depressed and feel like a failure

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I had heard of post-grad blues from my friends who graduated before me but that wasn’t enough to prepare me for the sometimes depressing feelings that occur now that I moved back in with my parents. In the generation of posting everything on social media, it is easy to sometimes get caught up in comparisons with the way people’s lives are portrayed on social media. As many of my peers are buying new cars or getting promotions or starting their Masters programs I often find myself in a sad place in regards to realizing I have moved back in with my parents and haven’t really accomplished much else after getting my degree. While I’m currently unemployed, studying for the LSAT, and trying to find a job to help pay back these student loans once my extended vacation to Ohio ends, and I know all of these things will come fruition in due time, it doesn’t stop those feelings that creep in from time to time. People expect you to have it all figured out once you get that $30,000 piece of paper but unfortunately it’s not all that simple. I never stay in that place of self-pity long because I know what I have planned for my post-grad life and what I will accomplish but I would be lying if sometimes I didn’t feel dumb and like a failure for living back in my parents house instead of a condo on the beach in La Jolla.

PRO: You no longer have to pay for groceries

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You can look at me and tell that I love eating so one of the greatest benefits to moving back in with my parents is that I no longer have to worry about paying for my groceries, toilet paper, body wash, or any other the other things I took for granted in my younger years that add up when you are living on your own. Grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s once a week has become one of me and my mom’s new ways of bonding since I moved back home and I even convinced her to try the Vegan Food Bar at Whole Food’s with me when we went in to buy some cauliflower pizza crust. Not only is free food the best but I also never have to worry about who’s turn it is to buy paper towels for the kitchen or toilet paper for the bathroom, two things that drove me insane during undergrad if I would forget to pick them up while I was already out at the store. My mom keeps our house stocked as if the Apocalypse could occur at any moment so I never have to worry about running out of any of these things.

CON: You are reminded of why you went away for college in the first place

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Now don’t get me wrong, I love Las Vegas and everything it has to offer. From things closing at later times (or never) to being able to buy alcohol after 2am, Vegas has it going on. However, there are times when I remember exactly why I left my parent’s home in the first place. Many of the reasons are listed in the cons of this list. Other reasons include the experiences I’ve had in other places I have been.  I love the beach and I hate weather above 85 degrees (Damn you, San Diego for spoiling me). I love being able to come and go as I please and not worrying about anything else and my parents calling me asking when I’m going to be home, etc. While I still think Vegas is one of the best cities to live in, San Diego definitely left an impact on me and moving back to my parents house is a reminder of why I left Vegas in the first place…for FREEDOM.

All in all,the first month and a few weeks after moving back in with my parents have been full of some major adjustments on both of our sides. I failed to mention that we also now have my mom’s friend’s 13 year old daughter living with us who moved in back when I was in my 3rd year of school. Having to learn to interact with a teenager on a daily basis and following my parent’s way of things again has been quite the experience. No matter what happens, I am very happy my family is well off enough that I can move in with my parents temporarily while I get my shit together and study for the LSAT, which is in less than two months. If you currently have moved back in with your parents, hang in there! It is only temporary and is far much better than being homeless. If you live at home, what are some ways you deal with it? Leave a comment and let me know!