When the nest feels like a cage

I wrote recently about finding my identity as a Nomadic Nester and what I want it to mean for my life and how I live it. Unfortunately, it isn't always that straightforward, and my current circumstances have been throwing up some barriers and frustrations that have let to quite a bit of mental and emotional turmoil this week.

I live with my parents, and have done since I moved back home after university a decade ago. It definitely isn't always easy or comfortable, but it seems that recently things have become more tense. Most of the last few years I've worked (either part or full time) and it's been OK because we've all been out of the house most of the time, or not all in together very often, only evenings and weekends. However, since I left my job in July, other circumstances have changed - my Mum only works part time and Dad has recently retired - so with me not out at work we are spending more time in each other's company.

And for my parents this seems to be a big problem; they don't understand (and I find it immensely difficult to explain) where I'm at with trying to find my best path, and they certainly don't think my plans for self-employment are sensible or practical. They are of the generation that has a job and stays in it for life, no matter whether you enjoy it or not, just as long as it earns you enough money to live comfortably and to be able to save for the proverbial rainy day. There also feels to be an element of comparison - my younger sister is married, has just got a new job, and is in the process of buying a house - all steps along the 'normal' path and I'm falling behind.

We ended up having a very emotional conversation last week as I tried to explain my position and feelings about 'proper' jobs, my wish to feel happy with what I'm doing rather than stressed all the time, and my thinking around different options I've been considering, including booking a holiday, and potentially moving out and renting somewhere of my own so that I've got space to be myself, rather than having to fit around them all the time. The overall feeling I got from them was of disappointment that I'm not doing the same as they've done, that I'm not in a secure, regular, well-paid job, that I'm wasting my intelligence and education, and that my dreams are a waste of time because to get on in life you always have to do things you don't like. Now, I know most of their concerns come from a place of love and wanting the best for me - but what I don't seem to be able to get them to understand is that the best for me isn't going to be the same as the best for them because I'm not them, I'm different, I'm me, and I want to stand on my own two feet.

The conversation didn't really resolve anything, but it has made me think more in the last few days about how I'm going to get to where I want to be, what the most important elements are, and how we can rub along together in the meantime.

I've said before that I love Home, my nest, the place that is a sanctuary, where I can be comfortable, relax, and spend time creating and doing things I enjoy. That's not so easy when the home is a shared space and my parents seem to feel I should share everything I'm doing with them all the time, and even if I close the door on a room I'll get asked when I come out what I've been up to. Privacy is a tricky issue, because I also don't want to feel like I'm keeping secrets, but on the other hand there are things I want to work on by myself, things that I need space and quiet for, and things that are none of their business (not in any kind of weird or illegal way of course...). It's independence and freedom that I'm craving, and the physical and mental space to be able to think for myself, make my own decisions, and live in a way that feels right. At the moment at home, all I'm feeling is pressure to conform, and a reluctance to do many of the things I really want to because I fear I'll be judged or ridiculed - meditation and yoga are not my parents' cup of tea at all!

So now instead of being a comfort, my nest is becoming a cage and I definitely don't want to find myself trapped. My mind has been a whirlwind of thoughts and ideas and dreams and mad plans about how I can get out more into the world to explore and get that freedom back, and where I could make my new nest. It all gets caught up in the bigger picture of getting my business off the ground, wanting to travel, my financial situation, my introvert's caution of stepping outside my comfort zone, my deep love of my family, and my dreams of my ideal life - and let me tell you, it is quite overwhelming!

I'm going to be brutally honest here - part of me wants to say blow the money, just spend it on doing what I want and then worry about it when it's run out. Another part of me really wants someone to just give me enough money so that I can live the life I want without worrying about it at all. Yet another part wants to make a success of my business and self-employment, mainly to prove my parents wrong. And the small, terrified part of me wants to cry, to run away and hide and pretend none of this is happening.

I don't have any answers yet, but I'm hopeful that some things will become clearer in the not too distant future. September brings a change of scenery which always seems to help with clearing the thoughts - firstly a week away with my parents that I hope will give us all a chance to relax and be out of our normal situation - and then a week away myself and an opportunity to stop and listen to my own heart without the distractions of expectation, 'should' and feeling under the microscope. In the meantime, I'm finding small ways to be by myself more often, and trying to be a little more assertive with my parents about boundaries. We'll see how it goes!