a BoJack Horseman inspired post
In the second episode of season 5, “The Dog Days Are Over”, writer and blogger Diane Nguyen takes an impulsive trip to Vietnam to get in touch with her cultural roots. This is her means of escape from the present challenges in her life. Pressured by her job, she turns her adventure into a listicle, transforming her emotional turmoil into “clickable content.”
So considering my own big life change and returning to my own roots, albeit without any real cultural difference, it seemed like a fun thing to emulate for this blog. So let’s get started with . . .
Reason 1: To break the routine
You graduated and decided trading independence for your old room wasn’t what you wanted, so followed in the footsteps of past graduates and found a full-time job locally. After moving in with your friends and starting your 9-5, it almost feels like the uni days haven’t ended. But then reality creeps up on you.
No more getting drunk on weeknights because you can’t skip your 9am start tomorrow. You try to stick to your old routines and attempt to keep the same social life. But instead you programme a new autopilot: cycling through the same meals, meet with the same people and are never short of excuses for why this comfort zone is a prison. It’s a circle of stagnation. And only one solution presents itself.
Reason 2: Your counsellor agrees it’s a good idea
But maybe you need professional support. Breaking your routine is scary and hard to accept–let alone do–without encouragement. So you find help and answer questions you’ve rehearsed the excuses for. You’re just too tired after work to exercise. Why yes, you would love to do more voluntary work, but where will you find time? “Maybe when I’m in a better headspace.” Eventually, you accept you’re being impossible and suggest returning home. And they nod their head.
Reason 3: To start something new
Jobless with plenty of free time means no excuses. You can run and get fit, start that blog, volunteer, take online courses and read all those books you’ve never opened. You can do all these things whilst still sending out applications to the job you really want.
Old routine broken, you can make a new one that won’t include hours of bingeing YouTube videos, evenings playing Xbox or excessive afternoon snacking. You’re in control and will be the super-productive being you knew you always could be.
. . . Right?
Reason 4: Spend more time with family
University changed you, and this new you has only ever been a guest in your family home. It’s about time your family meet you.
Maybe they won’t like you at first. You might have told them some of what you went through, but there are so many things you will never be able to share with them. There was a time when nobody knew you better than your parents. But you’ve now had so many heart-to-hearts sat on the kitchen floor with your housemates that you realise a chasm exists between you. A void of misunderstanding that may never be filled.
In time, though, you adjust and get used to each other again. The sibling fights resume, and you get to ask yourself: act like you never left or pick a new fighting style for the post-uni you.
Reason 5: Reconnect with old friends
Whilst you were away, your hometown friends have had their own stories. Perhaps you got to be a recurring side character along the way, there for the major scenes. Or maybe you were a distant observer as you scrolled social media. You might have been there for your friend’s wedding, but this is the first time you’re meeting their kid. They have social routines they made without you, and you can’t help but question if there’s room for you. Does this version of yourself belong with these people? But good friends see there’s no room at the table and shuffle up to make space for you.
Reason 6: Turn the bedroom you’ve always hated into one you love
You’ve become accustomed to the home away from home that your childhood bedroom just isn’t you anymore. Now is the time for the clear out you never had! Plus exploring your hoarder past can be fun. From reading through old schoolbooks and discovering a story you wrote from the perspective of a cow, to the bafflement of finding a LibDem newsletter from 2003 inside the same folder as a horrifying drawing of you and your dad.
But you also find things you wrote that remind you of a darker time, a version of you that you’d rather forget. You tear the pages up into pieces so tiny you put a paper shredder to shame. Then you immediately burst into tears as you wish you could tape it all back together. A moment ago, you were ashamed and wanted to forget what came before. But in this moment, you want to preserve the past, warts and all.
A clear out you thought would take maybe a week at most becomes a month. And it’s still not done because you’re still not sure what you want to keep. So you stop throwing things away. For now.
For however long “now” is . . .
Reason 7: Reacquaint yourself with the local area
When was the last time you just went for a walk around your hometown? Why not take a trip down memory lane? Browse the book collection of your local library, which seems so small after having spent so many all-nighters in that big university library. Find out they’ve closed your preferred fast-food joints but opened several new cafes. Somewhere must have coffee as nice as the cuppas you got from your favourite campus venue.
You can’t help but compare everything to what you had before. You were used to going out and bumping into people you knew. Now you step outside and every face belongs to a stranger. You start wishing you could go back . . .
Reason 8: Well you can go back, as a visitor!
Buy a train ticket, grab a coffee from your favourite barista you didn’t realise you’d miss so much and catch up with friends. Nothing makes you feel more loved than crossing paths with someone who had no reason to think they’d be seeing you anytime soon.
Reason 9: To be missed by people who love you
Whether they take time out of their busy schedule to have lunch with you, almost squeal your name as you catch them by surprise or run across the campus squares to give you a hug, it’s a moment of happiness that you need in this time of uncertainty.
Yes, they all start joking about how you claimed to be moving on to bigger and better things but keep coming back. And yes, some do joke that you might as well move back. But the moment you take a serious tone and admit to thinking you made a huge mistake, they remind you why it was so important you left. You realise you’re lucky to know so many people who want to see you succeed and won’t let you give up on what it is you really want.
Reason 10: So you can also realise . . .
Leaving university sucks. Job-hunting sucks. Moving back home sucks. This is a time in your life where things just suck. And that’s okay.
You wanted to move back home to pursue a new beginning, find the next great challenge that will bring you a step closer to the success you always dreamt of. But what you feel is that you’re regressing and that you’ve made the biggest mistake of your life choosing to leave.
You spent years growing into a person you liked more than the person you were before, and there’s so much at home that reminds you of the past. You thought this is what you wanted, but you underestimated the distance between where you are and where you want to be. And maybe you find that where you want to be isn’t attainable right now. And that’s okay, too.
There’s no right answer to the question: “What should I do after I finish university?” And whatever you choose, you’re always going to wonder about the “what-ifs”. But choosing to go back home doesn’t mean choosing to go back to the old you. Returning isn’t the essential step to finding life’s next big challenge. Returning is the next big challenge. And just as you’ve overcome all of life’s challenges leading up to this point, you’re going to overcome this one.
So yes, now sucks. But now is temporary. You may not feel okay right now, and it may feel like a long time before you feel okay again. But you will be okay.
And the coffee around here really isn’t so bad.