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Shameless Self-starter #1: I live with my parents.

I’m 30, and I still live with my parents.

Your response to this really depends on how you were raised. Fellow Singaporeans and some other Asians would not bat an eye. For the majority, it’s nothing out of the ordinary to have a grown adult stay with his/her parents until he/she gets married.

To Westerners, this is strange. Western society celebrate independence and individualism (Asians celebrate community and co-dependency) and so to be staying with your folks past uni days gives them the impression of over-dependency, and inability to take care of yourself.

I have many Westerner friends in Singapore who ask me (very very politely, too), “How do you feel about staying with your parents?”

My short response is this: “If it saves me money for the time being, I have no issues with it.”

Here’s the longer context.

I’m totally down for moving out of home. I love my parents a lot and actually enjoy spending time with them for long amounts of time. But I also understand that every adult needs to set out to establish their own nest at some point in their lives. Whether or not they are married.

In my early twenties, I got the chance to move out of home and live with some friends. We were happy to have our own space, independence, and learn to set up our own responsibilities. But it came at a price — literally. For our freedom, it cost a lot of money. To have a lot of money, we had to be tied to jobs. These jobs did not necessarily make us happy. With great (financial) power comes great responsibility. Want to earn your keep and enjoy a good life that includes your own place? Make sure you keep working, even if it means hours of overtime work and meetings that don’t even allow you to come home to enjoy the apartment you are paying for.

I have been in one of those jobs before and could easily continue to afford my own space after a while, if I was financially prudent. But I also realised that I was feeling so trapped in a 9–6 desk job that I found no joy or purpose in.

Today, I get to do meaningful work for myself. I get to start up my own creative business and choose the kinds of clients I want to serve. And I get to teach in the gym where I also build my Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu skills. I have so much freedom with my time to do the things that I love. I get to practice “slow living”.

And you know, at this point, I don’t earn that much.

Which is why I can’t afford my own nest yet. Which is why I continue to live with my parents.

My reason is completely practical. As someone trying to get my own business started, I want to exercise wisdom and stewardship over the expenses that I have. If there are things I can avoid spending on, I will. And housing expenses happens to be one of the bigger ticket items that I can do without.

“Living with your parents is so lame.”

I’ve heard comments like that before and I feel like this says more about one’s relationship with his/her parents, than the maturity and ability to be independent and take care of one’s self.

I have a great relationship with my parents, but I don’t think that makes me “lame”. But that’s not just it.

I do my own laundry, I cook my own food, I buy my own groceries, I clean up after myself. I literally live like I would if I had rented a space elsewhere.

See, the idea of independence has nothing to do with whether you live with your parents or not. You get to manage your own boundaries, and set them by yourself. Pay rent to your parents if it makes you feel more of an adult.

Whatever it is, living with your parents does not make you less of a capable adult than a person who is living alone.

Whichever society you come from, you’re gonna face certain cultural norms that you simply don’t wish to live by, for the sake of a greater goal. And it takes a great deal of “thick skin” to stand firm on your own convictions. My journey as a self-starter has helped me realise that I need to stop caring about the approval of others and start living out the dreams that I have.

So here’s to being totally shameless.

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