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Why I Decided to Live With Roomates at Age 37: How Living With Others Is Good for My Wallet, Health and Happiness

Sharing resources and respecting individual needs is the new paradigm — the true sign of being a real grown-up.

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Sharing resources and respecting individual needs is the new paradigm — the true sign of being a real grown-up.

There are still internal struggles, I must admit. I sometimes wish to be on my own, and that’s when I know to retreat to my room where I can write and read, all with the soothing sounds of other people busying themselves around the house too.

The silence isn’t so deafening anymore. And I still sometimes struggle with the fear that there is something wrong with me because I’m in my late thirties and not living with a “partner.” I’m hoping that with time, that notion will fade, and I will be able to fully live in the happiness of sharing my space with others, not trying to make it on my own. I was willing to trade my sense of privacy and preconceptions of adulthood for lower rent, companionship and shared responsibilities, and in the process I’ve had to interrogate what being an adult even means anymore. Because, yes, the idea that adulthood is synonymous with self-reliance and individualism and “making it on your own” is only something that hurts us in the end, that isolates us from each other.

I posted a question about whether it was “pathetic” to have roommates in your late thirties on Facebook and received quite a few interesting responses. My cousin, a professional in her early forties who has had a roommate for years and has saved a busload of money responded “There is nothing pathetic about it! The world is changing. Growing up, getting married, having kids, buying a house, and going into debt is not the way we have to live our lives anymore. The rules of the game are changing!”

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Really, there is nothing pathetic about sharing resources with a group of like-minded people. If anything, we are at the forefront of a brave, new world. A world where seniors are choosing co-housing villages over bland retirement communities, where open learning communities are decommodifying education, where car-sharing and coworking spaces are becoming the norm, and where choosing roommates beyond the twenties is a sign of being wise enough to recognize that individualism is overrated—and most definitely isn’t a marker of having “made it” in the world. In fact, I’m learning that cultivating the ability to work and live with others in a way that ensures the well-being of everyone involved, while sharing resources and respecting individual needs is the new paradigm—the true sign of being a real grown-up.

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