May 04, 2015
Moving Out: The Way to Liberation

Why aren't young and financially independent Indonesians dying to move out of their parents' homes? This woman asks whether it's "indolence or cowardice" that holds us back from true liberation.

by Felicia Stephanie
Issues // Politics and Society
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Having grown up my whole life in my parents’ house, I finally moved out of it. With my parents, that is, in 1994, to their new house. Not a single chance for me to go out on my own, though I can assure you I did try.
 
Coincidentally, during my initial years of hankering for freedom, my parents lent me a car. It immediately adopted some functions of an RV. There were books stacked inside a container. The bench seat was obviously an area to slightly straighten both legs, relax and read or write. After some time, I started to store my running shoes, some pumps and a pair of black flip-flops. I also invited my friends who shared a mutual understanding that a nice afternoon was perfect for going anywhere except our Grammar class.
 
Then, on a sudden, I had the nerve to store more of my belongings in the car and headed to another city. That was when my wise* parents decided that it would be better for me to be a walking nomad.
 
But I did not stop.
 



Not until several endeavors later did I understand that the challenge to liberate myself from the roof that shelters parents was beyond their influence. It was, and is still, cultural.
 
Apparently, the very notion of taking the initiative to stop being another adult-child who does not leave home seems absurd. I know that a few of my friends are even still sharing beds with their parents. Believe me, they are not the owners of modest 21 square meter houses.
 
This is precisely why I had a completely different thought.

Yes, it is homey: there are parents to chat with and sometimes relatives coming over for dinner; there’s a bed with a clean sheet in a spacious room (mine is the largest in the house); there’s 24-hour availability of cable TV to watch episodes of Top Gear while munching strawberries; and, one has, definitely, a chance to save a lot of money.

But I am bothered, and, to be precise, consumed with self-loathing for this indulgence. Ever since people started asking what my life goals were, I have always answered quietly, “I am going to move out, then figuring those out.” It just has been there, long before boys made my knees weak.

I wonder, why moving out of our parents’ house is not seen as a necessity in our culture, while young adults in other countries would rather cram in inhumanly small dwellings than suffer the indignity of being “KIPPERS” (Kids in Parents’ Pockets Eroding Retirement Savings)? Why has there not been a major revolution to make this a social zeitgeist? Is it indolence or cowardice?

I realize that inharmonious relationship with parents can serve as an ulterior motive for young adults to move out of their parents’ houses. However, I believe that most, if not all people, feel the inexpressible desire of living with their parents even more. The bond is divinely destined.

It is difficult for everyone. The problem is a moral dilemma.

I don’t doubt that we are actually inclined to the idea of being independent adults. In fact, I suspect Facebook has been such a sticky phenomenon because we are fascinated by the freedom of being ourselves. Few people can stop us from articulating bits of our thoughts, expressing love messages, babbling our disappointments and posting hundreds, thousands and millions of photographs, from inappropriate naked infant snapshots to artworks and salable products pictures. It is a place we call home. As dogs mark their territories, we can do it by setting our own values and presenting them uniquely. We can even set our own privacy settings. We are simply in charge and responsible for it. So, why are we satisfied only with the virtual?

Why don’t we courageously make some efforts to tear down ridiculous conditions to have a home in reality? I know that most of us will only be granted leave to experience this under certain conditions: being married, studying or working out of hometown or, unfortunately, having no parents.

Then, it is the matter of choosing between the uncertainty of being out of our comfort zones and the socially accepted practices. Yet, big or small, owned or rented, we should have a place that reconfirms our identity as independent adults, regardless of our marital status. Why don’t we just move out?

We can freely emulate the urban apartment design covered in the latest Elle Décor. This, in itself, is also cathartic, as familiar financial scenarios force us to be content with only the necessary, and not more. Not to mention, it is a perfect test on parenting methods and educational systems we have experienced, whether we can be responsible, creative and self-motivated independent adults who move on from merely surviving to giving great contributions to the society.

And, aren’t we are destined to survive? Bad choices may be made, yet they are part of life. That simple.
 
Some will see these arguments as utterances of a deviant, but I could not care less. And I certainly have an unfinished business. Meanwhile, opponents, please shut up and get out of my way.

*) Stated literally, as in “culturally wise”. No sarcasm here.
 
Note:
On my 30th birthday, I managed to tell my parents of my aforementioned thoughts. I, then, moved out of their house and headed for another island. Up to now, I am still in the search of my own “home-sweet-home”, however, I can always seek sanctuary in my parents’ peaceful house, once in a while, before returning to continue my journey.
 
Felicia Stephanie is a translator-wannabe (working full time in an office full of experts *yeah*)/a teacher (for more than 10 years)/an insurance agent. All at the same time, yes. Random, maybe. Purposeless, no.