There is a problem with where I come from. Once you leave, you’re not allowed to go back.
The community is not exactly gated, but there are social mechanisms in place that create an invisible barrier to what could otherwise be an inclusive experience.
When I first moved back home after being away for seven years, I was met with a slew of questions:
What went wrong?
Why come back here?
How are you going to make a living?
These otherwise well-meaning people were looking for an answer as to how (or whether) my choice to move home could have been voluntary — an explanation as to why, once you’ve left, you would ever come back before retirement.
Personally, the value I put on proximity to family and the love I have for my little hometown trumped the experience I was getting in the city. They also trumped the moving home stigma.
The aforementioned questions are a bit nosey, sure, but the larger implication is that these questions ostracize the subject. I say subject because it’s not just me. This keeps happening. For some reason, moving home is looked upon as a failure.
But a failure of what? A failure of ability? A failure of talent? A failure of intelligence, work ethic, or grit?
No. Moving home is seen as a failure to make something of oneself.
Nobody wants to say it, but that’s the truth.
Moving home isn’t adventurous. It isn’t glamorous or glorious or sexy. It isn’t an exciting life milestone to sum up in a stylish and unfiltered Instagram post.
Moving home is seen as a defeat. It is viewed as a farce, flop, or fiasco. It means that you reached for something, and came crashing back to Earth like a flaming hunk of space garbage. You tried, kid, but maybe you just don’t have what it takes. You better settle for something a little easier and safer.
We will live by the standards we set for ourselves, and if these are the standards we set for boomerangs (people who leave and later return), then we are hurting our own future. Society is driven and advanced by people, and our current standard flies in the face of progress. The standard needs to change if we are going to abolish the moving home stigma.