Last week, I got so much positive response from my post, Coming Clean, where I talked about having Rheumatoid Arthritis. The positive response to such a personal story made me consider being that open regularly in this blog. That post received 1,000 unique hits because the Arthritis Foundation shared it on their Facebook page and their Twitter stream.
Prior to that moment, I never believed I could be that honest about my pain, and I was amazed by the comments from people who had their own stories about rheumatoid arthritis to share. The response was humbling and encouraged me to continue.
This week, instead of coming to grips with an autoimmune disease, I’ve been mulling over my living situation, and how it affects the rest of my life. In 2011, like many 25 year olds are doing, I moved back in with my parents in order to make a career move.
I’m just like so many young people in their 20s who graduated college after 2008. We moved back home after graduating because there weren’t enough jobs, or we went through a round of layoffs (like I did). At the beginning of 2011, graduate unemployment was about 9.5%, not counting graduates taking jobs that don’t require a degree because they needed to pay off about $20,000 in debt. That means closer to 30% of recent grads didn’t get the jobs we had hoped for. Even starting salaries for 2008 and 2009 graduates dropped about 10% to $27k. Crazy, right?
It’s a really challenging time for 20somethings, and living at home makes a lot of sense for us. Especially when we’re fortunate enough to have the opportunity to do so.
I moved back in with my folks in January 2011 to transition jobs and reposition my career. I was moving from an amazing first job building a community of 120 tech startups at Tech Ranch Austin to a great gig at a consulting firm in July. It all looked really good, but after about 3 months, the firm was delayed on some contracts and made a handful of layoffs mid-October. Those layoffs included me.
I walked out of the North Austin office building on October 15th knowing that I was going to be at my folks’s house a while longer. And while that layoff was one of the best things to happen to me last year, it was still a rough transition to make.
I’m not the only 25 year old facing a similar situation. More than 1 in 4 recent graduates have moved home after college to get their careers started.
Having a place to crash amidst all the changes in my career has been good. It’s afforded me the stability to do some important things in 2011, but now it’s time to move out. I’m pretty sure that my career is in a holding pattern until I do, so I’m setting a goal and figuring out how to move out by the end of the month (more on that in a moment). It comes down to this: My parents can offer me stability in the face of uncertainty, but I really don’t want to stay stable where I am today. I want something different.
I want to be as unstable as I need to be so I can do the things that I want with my life. I want to follow a completely different blueprint than my parents did. That means I’ve got to leave where I am, and head for a different model. If I don’t take the risk, I’m terrified that I’m going to stay exactly where I am.
I am designing an ad:
25 year old college grad, looking for new creative work, a room, a garage apt with a family in Austin that would enjoy having a 25 year old entrepreneur around. Perhaps some empty nesters? Some folks who get the things that I want to do, and who are interested in helping me get there.
This is such a weird thing to post publicly. I sort of hate it. It makes me feel like a big loser. I’d much prefer to keep it a big secret, just like I wanted to keep my arthritis a big secret. Part of me feels like it’s better to keep these things a secret. But I need to write it, and I need to share it.
Here goes nothing.
I really do hope this helps.
Austin W. Gunter