I remember the day I moved out of my college dorm. I’d done it every year, but this was the final time. It was the day after commencement and I was moving into my first apartment. There were jokes, tears, boxes, bags, parents, sisters … and plenty of coffee and snacks. All of that fueled excitement.
I was heading out to live on my own! I was a real adult. I had a BA. I had a job. Life was great.
Fast-forward three months, and I’d been in my first car accident, changed jobs, bought a new car, got it towed the next day, started attending a new church, audited an MBA course, attended an out-of-state wedding, and overall questioned my life decisions on a regular basis.
Some things (like getting my dream job and a reliable vehicle) were going great. Many others (like roommate changes, car accident, car towing, and time management) … not as great.
When a family from church picked me up from the mechanic one day, I shared some of my frustrations. “I really just need a break,” I said. My soul longed for space to breathe, to be alone, to process the previous four years of college –– as well as that summer’s transition to “real life.”
Their response stunned me.
“You can live in our attic for a while.”
Uh, creepy much?!
Good thing I’d known them for four years already; we had built some trust equity. 😊
I was desperate, so it didn’t take long for me to agree to the temporary housing arrangement.
“It’ll only be a couple weeks. I won’t even unpack my duffle bag,” I confidently assured them.
They insisted, “No, we’ll get a little rack for your clothes. You can’t live out of a duffle bag more than a week.”
“OK, well, I won’t be here more than six months. Probably closer to three –– max –– if even that long.”
Seemingly knowingly, they smiled and nodded.
Less than a month later, I started my journey that ended up becoming 25 months living with this precious family. It was painfully awkward at first … as we all navigated a change to our daily routines.
A mom, dad, 15-year-old girl and 12-year-old boy suddenly gained a 22-year-old college graduate … not just renting a room, but living above them in their attic. Meanwhile, I navigated where I fit in their family system … part tenant, part family member.
We broke lots of ice and grew in many capacities together. Once we became close enough to share jokes and poke fun at one another, they playfully nicknamed me “The Attic Dweller.”
Offended at first, there’s now not a nickname I endear more.
Living for over two years in an attic provided many opportunities for growing experiences. Perhaps the most impactful discovery I came away with is that pride starts small. It doesn’t take much to feed off of seemingly harmless attributes … ambition, perseverance, confidence. Before you know it, pride takes over.
Heading into the attic dwelling season, my heart was marred by far more pride than I could ever have known. Daily, opportunities to reveal and strip it out of me pained my heart. For example, when a friend asked where I was living (a typical post-grad question), a sense of shame overcame my answer. “An attic” sounded like I was a failure at #adulting. Especially as a business major!
Those first two years out of college laid a foundation for the rest of my adult life. That is, no matter where you live (or dwell!), don’t take yourself too seriously. The way that truth stamped itself across my soul impacted the way I approach situations now.
What if “Attic Dweller” was a life choice? What if it was an approach to every situation that said, “No matter where I’m at, what I’m doing, and who’s here with me, I’m pressing in?”
That’s something I didn’t want to ask most days the first six months in the attic. I was angry at myself for failing as an adult so early into becoming one. But that narrative I fed myself wasn’t true.
And while it sounds creepy to some people, “Attic Dweller” is an endearing term to me now.
This blog includes stories from my Attic Dweller season and other young adulthood lessons and tips that I hope help you. Young adulthood is weird. You can feel like a mix between a child and a grandma all at once, and trying to find your place in the world is hard. I started this blog to provide a community for people to be honest, encourage one another, and know they’re not alone in this journey called life. I’m so happy you’re here!