Dear Penny

Dear Penny: how do I tell my roommate that her happiness is making me depressed?

Dear Penny: how do I tell my roommate that her happiness is making me depressed?
She’s at peace and I’m in pieces. Alex Berger / Flickr

Dear Penny,

My roommate is self-actualizing in a big way. She had an epiphany about wanting to travel across America and is upending her entire life — subletting, quitting her job, getting rid of her worldly possessions — to do so. I love and support her, but her constant talk and gushing about this “next chapter of her life” is getting exhausting, and is making me feel really depressed about my own state of affairs. How do I tell her this without being the worst human alive?

Feeling Like A Shitty Human, Especially Recently (F.L.A.S.H.E.R.)

Dear Flasher,

Your feelings are valid, and they don’t make you a shitty human. It’s hard to be happy for our friends who have good things happening to them when we feel stuck in our own situation. Even having an apartment and job that I love, that’s sometimes the way I feel about my friends in healthy, adorable relationships. I know I have a multitude of excellent things in my life but I want that.

There is no harm in telling your roommate how you feel. Try something along the lines of, “Hey, I am legitimately excited for you but also really bummed that you’re leaving. I am totally here to help you with anything you need as you get ready to go, but I would also prefer not to talk about it all the time because as happy for you as I am, it’s kind of bringing me down.” Don’t say anything that makes her feel like she can’t talk to you about her big move at all, because being the crazy life change that it is, she will probably need you. You can support and be excited for her without being 100 percent thrilled by the situation.

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Something very similar happened to me two years ago. Ashley, my darling roommate of four years (and friend of 12 years), moved out of our Brooklyn two-bedroom to travel the world, upending her life in the same way as your roommate. I was sad she was leaving me, as well as scared. I knew I didn’t want to go from the best New York roommate situation of all time to living with a random again, and I had a lot of concerns about living alone — not to mention finding an apartment I could afford by myself. I felt many things about Ashley’s departure, but jealousy was never one of them. She was doing something she always wanted to do. I don’t know that my feelings of anxiety and sadness were ever a secret to her, but I do think they were outweighed by my excitement for her new adventure and support for her life-altering decision.

That said, try to figure out why you’re depressed about your own state of affairs. Are you jealous? Dreading the major change it causes in your own life? Just feeling stuck? If it’s something you can fix by trying something new, creating a new routine, or doing some traveling of your own, do it! I’m not sure whether you necessarily want to upend your life like your roommate, but when you say that you’re depressed about your own state affairs, it sounds as though you’d at least like to feel similar excitement about something. Even if you love what you do, maybe it’s time to find something new that ignites passion within you. Try a new hobby, take a new class, or do one new thing every day that interrupts the monotony. It can be something as simple as walking down a different street to get to the bodega, and trying a new ice cream flavor once you get there.

Yours truly,

Readers, weigh in: have you ever dealt with this situation? Share your own advice in the comments! 

Dear Penny is written by Margaret Bortner. Follow her for more life advice: @askmemargaret.

And do you want advice from Dear Penny? Send her your questions about brokester etiquette, dating, awkwardly splitting the bill and anything else at [email protected]. We’ll keep you anonymous (or give you a shout out on social media if you like). 

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