Today is my amazing mom’s birthday.
Here’s a gorgeous photo of her in Ireland – at the Ring of Kerry, to be exact:
I’ve been living back at my parents’ house since returning from my master’s degree in Scotland, which was almost exactly two years ago. Did you know it’s insanely expensive to live in Europe? Especially when you don’t have a job or the time to work one? My student loans and appalling amounts of debt left me pretty immobilized (I still am), so it just made sense to move back home and save the rent money.
I’m not going to lie: the thought of living with my parents again after almost 18 months of having a large flat to myself and all the space and privacy I needed was not an appealing one. In fact I sort of dreaded it. Not only because I like living by myself, but also because in some ways, it felt like accepting failure or something. Like, living at home is supposedly super sad, so I should feel bad about myself because of it. Like it should be something I mumble so that no one would know that I’m living with my family. Like, how pathetic, right?
Full disclosure, I felt that way until pretty damn recently, and I’m not proud of it at all. I don’t know why I was so worried about living at home – my parents both work, so during the days I have the house to myself for all of my freelance work, and even when they are home, there’s no tension between my parents and I or anything. So why try to hide it?
And then I had a wake-up call.
Again, I have no idea why it took me so long to not feel angsty about living with my parents, but a couple of weeks ago, it really hit me: if I weren’t living at home right now, at this moment in my life, I would be living in poverty. I wouldn’t be able to pay rent on an apartment, or even on a room in a house. I wouldn’t even be able to buy dog food for Oscar and Lucy. I sure as hell wouldn’t be able to buy the vegan and gluten-free foods I eat. It’s only because I’m not paying rent that I can afford to do any of those things, and some months, I can’t. Some months everything I eat, buy, and use goes straight onto credit cards, adding to my pile of debt.
It’s the joy of a freelance life. One in which work is usually very scarce. One in which I often end up working double or triple time, because the number of hours that I have to put into marketing myself and finding new contracts is obscene and almost never pays off. One in which invoices are almost never paid on time, so I’m almost always late to pay my bills (if I even can). It is a difficult life.*
But it means I’m doing something that I love, and my family has always supported me in that. They donated way too much time and money to my theatre company’s shows when I was working as a writer/director/producer, and now they’re encouraging me to keep pursuing a writing career even though I’ve sunk into more debt today than when I graduated in Scotland.
SIDENOTE: That’s math that really hurts, y’all.
So what I’ve come to realize is that there’s no shame whatsoever in living with my family. It means that they believe in what I do, that they support my goals, and that they want me to be happy.
If you ask me, that’s pretty incredible.
And I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity. It is a daily reminder to push my hardest, work ridiculously long hours, and never give up on my dreams. It’s a daily reminder to stay true to myself, follow my heart, and appreciate the happiness I gain from doing what I love, even if it means that I’m broke beyond broke.
It’s a daily reminder to hold onto the belief that hard work pays off, and everything happens for a reason, so everything’s gonna be okay.
So thanks, mom. I owe you one.**
*I get that a lot of people have much harder lives. This is my blog in my context. Don’t be hatin’.
**(See: a million ones.)