Adult Milestone #1: Moving Out Dreams
I live with my parents.
That's something I'm not too ashamed to admit, even if I am in my late 20's. I've only been in the country for three years now, no established career unlike the rest of my age group, living in a city like SF. I didn't grab myself a boyfriend to cohabitate with either, although I've heard from a friend in the same situation as I am that that's apparently a trend. I have all the right reasons to be where I am.
The thing is, I grew up with the very Filipino notion that I'll be staying in my parent's house until I either 1) work in a different city or country or 2) I marry and get whisked away to either my husband's household or a house of my own. I've never questioned this idea – in fact, at some point in my teens, I was taking this as reality. My older cousins had followed the same template and my college friends seemed to understand that this was the rule that would govern their lives too.
My then boyfriend's brother put it so eloquently – “Why would I move out if everything I need is taken care of at home”? Rent wasn't an issue since we owned the house. Food was ready on the table when I got home from school or work. We had a house helper then, so really I didn't do an inch of chores unless I felt like I wanted to do them (side note: I did. I grew up loving to wash dishes after dinner). Everyone in my immediate circle would more or less tell you that this is how the upper-middle class functioned and in a way, my third-world life was simple but had all these comforts.
I wasn't too surprised when I came over and had to accept some responsibilities full time since we've been prepped to believe that a lot of things had to be done. Being the eldest daughter also meant doing more of my younger brother's supposed “share”. I used to joke to my mom when I was younger that I knew how to do some housekeeping, I just didn't practice them – but now I do it out of necessity.
Over the past two years, my outlook shifted to being curious about the world beyond my parent's house. It first started when I started dating someone who grew up in Alabama and moved out of their parent's house at 18. Looking back, he might have definitely criticized me for living off my parent's money, and it tested my family's relationship when I ended up staying the night over for the first time ever, unable to sleep, and stressing over the whole situation while tucked away in the living room couch. It was a tumultuous time, and I still talk about those crazy six months in therapy sometimes, but it's partly thanks to him that my eyes were opened – why, indeed, did I have to wait to claim autonomy?
I do understand tho there are a lot of circumstances that actually hinder me from leaving, financial being the biggest one. But when I first opened the idea to my parents, they were pretty quick to dismiss it. Was I crazy? No, there is no leaving. You are staying here. – it makes me feel selfish for thinking about it, of course, but the old notion of staying until I get married is driving me insane now. In truth, I'd like to give myself the chance to know how the world works in my own terms – I don't want to wait until I'm attached to someone to know what I like and do not like doing. It's stupid, but I want to grow and make decisions for myself, all with the idea that my parents will trust me from afar.
I just want to be my own person.
Even if it also means that there's a huge possibility that I'll move back in when times are hard. Or I'll come crawling back to my parent's couch when I'm devastated and crying. Or I'll call them every night for a period of time because I'm homesick (even if I'll just be a few miles away). I'm sure I'll be at their dinner table every weekend, bringing home tupperwares of Adobo, Lumpia and an assortment of vegetables with me so I won't die from hunger for the following week.
Right now, it's shifted somehow that it's now my dad's turn to think it's a preposterous idea, but I'll say it – I don't want to follow my cousins, nor will I comply to the idea of comfort. Not yet, anyway. I probably sound like a 17-year-old, saying and thinking all this probably a decade too late, but I'm optimistic that I can do it and come out alive at the end of it. After all, I'm probably not the only soul out there trying to make it in the world, right?
Answer to Anon from fnContact: Thank you for the kind message! I'm hanging in there!
I'm currently doing a challenge called “100 Days to Offload” – you can join in the fun too by visiting https://100daystooffload.com