Leaving high school, with comforts of home


Afsah Khan

photo by Mikaela Acton
photo by Mikaela Acton
With the thought of leaving home to attend college is close to becoming a reality for many seniors, my friends talk about their excitement to “finally” get away from their parents and live on their own. They mostly want to get away from the constant nagging of their parents and the constant chatter of younger siblings.
While the idea of this seemingly unlimited freedom approaching creates hype among many of my friends, I can’t include myself in their celebration.
I decided to stay at home for the next four years of college based off of many factors. I’m among the youngest in my class, and I wasn’t sure I would be able to handle leaving home at the age of 17. And being the oldest child in the family, I didn’t think it was right of me to leave two younger brothers behind at home at a time when they still need me to guide them through the tough challenges of elementary school and the scary realities of high school.
Personally, I’m attending the University of Missouri—Columbia, so staying at home isn’t all that difficult. College will just be a small drive every morning, and I’ll have the luxury of living in a huge bedroom of my own instead of a cramped dorm room I share with someone else. I can construct a long list of reasons why I want to stay at home, but the main reason is simply because I’m too attached to my family.
My friends seem appalled whenever I mention this, but I can’t explain how much my family means to me. While other seniors can’t wait to leave home, my folks have been making an effort to keep me home ever since the idea of college first came up.
I grew up in a house where the cultural expectation is to stay with one’s parents until an undeniable job opportunity, marriage proposal or an equally urgent event forces one to leave the nest. By trying to live up to these expectations, I made the decision to forego the idea of late-night dorm parties and staying with a roommate for staying with my beloved family.
After having to explain to my friends over and over why I am not taking advantage of an opportunity to leave home, I grew more and more embarrassed. Here I was, less than a year away from becoming a legal adult, explaining to my friends that I was sacrificing my independence so I could stay home with my parents. I didn’t want to be thought of as just a child; I didn’t want to be thought of as dependent on my parents for everything.
But after months of dealing with the same tiring, “You’re staying at home? Voluntarily?” I don’t need to explain myself to others, nor do I need to apologize for this personal decision that I have made.
It’s not that I’m not independent. I can drive. I have my own car. I don’t have an enforced curfew and I can come and go as I please. My parents barely put any restrictions on my daily activities. Heck, I even have my own Panera card.
For me, staying at home just means a higher standard of living for the next four years. Home is a place where I don’t have to pay, and the food is free. I have space to store my belongings and personal bedroom and bathroom. I certainly wouldn’t have these luxuries had I decided to live on campus.
During the course of this year, I’ve learned that I don’t need to explain myself to anyone for my personal decisions, nor do I need to change my future plans to fit the expectations of others. After high school, the people I have known for more than a decade will disperse; the majority of the hundreds of people I have grown up with will be out of reach.
But only I will feel the consequences of any decisions I make; I don’t need to consult with others before I decide what’s OK for me. I’m perfectly happy with living at home for the next four years, until I am more capable of standing on my own feet and chasing down that successful life I’ve always dreamed of.
By Afsah Khan