Living with a lack of privacy

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Child's bedroom
A room I saw in a condominium showroom.

I felt jealous.

The room was painted bright blue and had a beige wallpaper. There was a small bed with a sheer draping over it, along with a bedside table that had a lamp. Near the bed was a small table (plus shelves) and a couch. The room was very pretty. It was bright and colorful down to every last detail.

I know we were just visiting a showroom and that the room didn’t really belong to anyone, but I also knew in many places in the world, little girls really did have rooms similar to this one, perhaps even better. And that is why I was jealous — because I never had a room to myself, not as a child, and not even as an adult.

The room is so pretty! At this age, I still would love to have a room like that (with everything being adult-sized, of course). How I would love to have a bed to myself! And a table where I can work on whatever it is I’m working on? What a dream! It would be awesome to have a cabinet to myself where I can stash my books, scripts, and other items. I would love to have a room to myself someday.

We have been living in the same rented house for the last 15 years. Back in 2004, the average rent for small houses was around ₱4,000-₱7000. We found a house that was just a 3-minute walk to where my sister and I went to school. The location was also very ideal because it’s very easy to come home from different places. We could go to the North or the South just by riding a tricycle to the main roads. There was also no problem for my mom’s commute to her work. The monthly rent fell in the typical average, it wasn’t expensive nor was it cheap. It was a good place, judging by the many factors that you have to take into account.

Over the years, like anything else, our house wore down. My sister and I have grown up, we own more things now, and the house isn’t as sturdy as before. We have actively tried to look for other houses, but sadly, houses similar to ours cost ₱8,000-₱12,000 now. In the decade and a half that we rented our current house, our monthly rent has increased very little, which makes it a very good deal to remain here. Our rent at present still falls under the average monthly rent for a house back in 2004. The price of everything else has gone up quite drastically over the years, and we sure appreciate that we are getting a good deal for our monthly rent.

Our house has one large space downstairs. There aren’t any rooms or divisions. Imagine one long, wide hallway. The area closest to the door would be the “living room,” the area beside it with a table pushed to the wall is the “dining area,” and the end of the hallway just before the stairs is the “kitchen.” Upstairs, we have two rooms, with one being the bedroom. I have always slept in the same bed with my sister and my mom. None of us has our own room. To say simply, we cannot afford a bigger house that will allow us to each have our own rooms, and I understand that. I’m not the type to be a brat and demand for unreasonable things.

Not having a personal space has never frustrated me before, but now, as an adult, every day I keep wishing I had the money to get a place of my own (which isn’t even the point, I just want to have a room to myself). Can you imagine never having the peace and quiet you so long for because your sibling wants to play some loud music? I always needed to share the electric fan, the pillows, the cabinets. I never had a private space that I can call my own. I just want something all to myself. As someone without any money whatsoever, I can’t afford to get my own place. Of course, I do recognize that living with my parents is allowing me to save up some money. If I lived alone, I would have to pay for food, water, electricity, and basically be in charge of my own life already — something I admit I am not yet prepared for. Still, I feel a tinge of jealousy when people I know rant about how messy their room is or how small their apartment is, or how they wished they chose a better condo. I wish I had that.

I hardly feel like an adult. Some articles say that Gen Zeds don’t feel like adults because we can’t do what past generations of adults did at our age. We have this idea that after graduation, you’d have your own house, a job with a steady income, and solid savings. Gen Zeds feel inadequate and restless to not be able to have any of that at the age we are expected to. I feel the same way. I don’t feel like an adult because I’m not living on my own, I don’t have a steady source of income, and I have no money. Where does that leave me then?

At present, a lot of people have opted to move away from home and live somewhere closer to where they work. They live in what people now call co-living spaces. They are basically dorms, but for working professionals. They don’t even have their own rooms! I mean, sharing an apartment would be okay, but living in bunk beds? As an introvert who hates having to converse with other people on my own personal time, I really dislike the idea of co-living space. Then again, I do acknowledge that I might someday reach the point where I’d have to try that. It is with the rise of these co-living spaces and the continuously rising prices of basically everything that I begin to wonder:

Will I ever have a space that is really my own?

Stories
Philippines