Still living with my parents at 40 doesn't make me a failure10/02/2021
Life doesn’t always work out the way we want it to.
I had planned that by the time I turned 40 I would be married, have kids and be living in the countryside somewhere.
Since hitting my milestone birthday during lockdown last year, I feel robbed of nearly two years.
Over a decade has now passed since I got divorced. Although amicable, it was a painful decision, and I have been back home living with my parents ever since.
The reality is that life is unpredictable and sometimes all this focus we put on having this and that can actually be really bad for us. As a result, I have low self-worth and I don’t feel confident. I often feel that I am not good enough and that I am a let-down.
At 40, I am still not where I feel I should be and this really has an impact on my mental health.
I love kids and used to imagine (both before my marriage and since my divorce) finding a perfect partner, and that I would be a mother by now. Each day that goes by, I am getting older. I get sad when I think about meeting someone as it’s difficult to trust again.
I am grateful for my parents. They welcomed me back when my marriage ended and never made me feel I should move out. My one constant has been their support, and I try to do the same for them.
But it was hard to come back home after my divorce knowing that I might be a burden on my parents. I don’t pay rent but I do help out at home with bills and chores. It’s also tough not having my own space – I have wanted to buy my own home but I can’t afford it – the savings I have are not enough to purchase a property.
It feels frustrating, like I am a teenager again. At times my mental health is impacted, I feel depressed and anxious when I constantly put pressure on myself to succeed in love and in my career.
Living in the same house I grew up in sometimes makes me think I have made no progress in the last 40 years. I’m back in my childhood bedroom staring at the same old wallpaper and photos I put up in my teens.
There are things I cherish about being home. I love my mum’s cooking and also doing prayers as a family but it’s not a very big house and it needs decorating. As I’m a grown woman, I really crave my own space – and I don’t want my parents to see me on my down days so I hide away in my room.
Also, I want to invite friends over but feel I can’t entertain them properly as I don’t want to be a nuisance to my parents – they are in their 70s and need peace and quiet.
If I was in my own place, maybe my love life would be better – not least because I wouldn’t need to feel worried about getting home at a certain time to avoid disturbing my folks.
I am sure they get fed up with me at times – my dad gets irritated with noise – I’m always on Zoom meetings for work or chatting with friends. As a journalist I have a hectic schedule and I love to socialise, too.
But, despite the frustrations, I adore my parents and couldn’t leave them on their own. I worry about them getting lonely.
Post-pandemic, I know I need to seriously look for a house, even if that means a bigger one my parents can move into with me, then we can spend time away from one another when necessary. I want to be a good daughter as I know they will not be here forever and I want to support them as they have done for me.
In the Asian community many people, especially girls, end up staying at home. Yet there is a lot of judgement when you do – I have to hear people from my community asking ‘why are you still at home?’ or ‘why aren’t you married?’ It’s annoying. Why can’t people keep their noses out? I reply saying when it happens I’ll let you know but I am happy as I am.
If you are 40 and still at home people think there is something wrong. I wish people would understand that my life is not easy and it is far from my first choice but it’s also what’s right for me, for now.
In the last year I’ve tried to adjust and not put any expectations on myself – to go with the flow more.
If you aren’t where you had planned to be, it’s better to be grateful for what you do have. I have a roof over my head, I have my parents who are so caring. They have never made me feel I am a divorcee who has let them down as some Asian parents would.
And it is not a situation unique to the South Asian community – the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed over a million more young adults now live with their parents than two decades ago, with the number increasing from 2.4million in 1999 to 3.5million in 2019.
Reading these figures makes me realise that society’s emphasis to find love, have a career, be a homeowner and have reached these goals by a certain age are unnecessary worries we don’t need.
It doesn’t matter how old you are, when things are meant to be, they will be. Happiness comes from within us and not the things we do or don’t have.
I have focused my time on doing more charity work, henna art, prayer and getting fit and healthy.
I still hear thoughtless comments like ‘Are you going to get married?’ or ‘You’re too fussy’ from people in the community but I choose to ignore them. It’s none of their business.
No one is going to live your life for you, you have to make the best of the hand you are dealt. There are positives in being at home and I really feel that if I had not been, this last year could have been a lot worse for my mental health. If I had been living alone in lockdown, who would I have called on for comfort when feeling low?
Ultimately, my parents are my rock. They tell me to pursue my dreams. They say do what’s right for you, as long as you’re not hurting anyone, be the best version of yourself and things will fall in place.
I may be 40 and still living with my parents but that doesn’t mean I’m a failure. Society needs to learn that marriage and children isn’t the only way forward. I feel like a winner – every day I spend with my mum and dad is precious and I try to thank them for giving me this wonderful life.
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