The “Should” Factor

by Carly Masiroff

The “Should” Factor


I looked at my phone and my best friend’s picture popped up. It is not often we are both free at the same moment, so I have learned to cherish the moments there is actually her voice on the other end.

“I woke up this morning and thought, oh my God! Carly is 28 today. I wonder how she is feeling? Is she freaking out? I bet she is freaking out. I would be freaking out! So, are you freaking out?”

The truth is, I didn’t even realize it was my birthday. It is another year, another age. What should I feel like?

It is interesting. Once people realize it is your birthday, they start asking what has changed in the past year. For someone with an anxious mind, the idea of change throws me into a downward spiral fast.

“Are you seeing anyone special?”


“Don’t you get bored being single?”


And my favorite… “Have you finally moved out of your parents house?”


I have learned one thing majorly changes when you turn 28–there is a rule out there that YOU MUST LIVE ON YOUR OWN.

For someone with a mental health disorder, living by myself terrifies me. Don’t get me wrong, I ABSOLUTELY want to move out of my parent’s house. I love them to death, but goodness the one story ranch is not big enough for the three of us. Living with my parents is no longer “living at home.” It is exactly what it sounds like, living with your parents. Their house. Their rules. Their identity. I can’t choose to put my shoes in the living room because rules say they go in my room. I can’t choose to watch Netflix when football or baseball is on because rules say it’s not my TV. The longer I live with my parents–the more I lose my own identity. The more I lose my identity–the more my mental health becomes a factor.

I’ve lived with roommates before, that sounds great actually. But I am also finding the population of potential roommates at my age is dwindling.

The last time I lived by myself, I was at my lowest point in my mental health. I absolutely believe I am in a completely different place now, but just thinking about living by myself again triggers that horrible image of pill bottles laying all around me and the insurmountable nothingness feeling. I have come so far. I cannot go back there. I will not go back there.

So what do I do? I am so grateful to my parents for allowing me to live with them. It is rent free, gives me someone to share my day with, eat a meal with, and it keeps me safe. But the shoulds of society make me second guess my gratefulness. The shoulds of my mental health make me second guess my abilities. And round and round I go.

I’m finding that I am not alone in this living with parents in your late 20s issue. Student loans are debilitating, people are staying single longer, jobs don’t pay to support living costs, etc. The shoulds of life are complicated enough without having mental illness thrown on top of them.

So, is there an answer? Probably not, but I will keep working on one. I will move out. But I know it’s going to take more time because of my illness. I need to keep reminding myself life is a gift. I am so blessed that the pills didn’t take my life that night two years ago. Finding the good in life slashes the shoulds and quiets the negative voices. Why be concerned about what other people have or are doing when I am healthy, safe and alive? For now, I may not live in an ideal situation, but I will keep working toward something that is a better fit for my mental health AND me.