I had an interesting conversation with a friend that gave me some insight into the way I think about my house–and sometimes judge it unfairly. We were shopping at the mall together when she said, “I need you to turn me in to that show What Not to Wear so Clinton and Stacy can give me a makeover!”
She’s one of the most stylish people I know, so I asked her why on earth she thought she needed their help. She said spends a lot of time reading fashion magazines and blogs and feels like she never measures up. The more she talked, the more it sounded like she has a panel of highly fashionable judges in her head critiquing everything from her hair to her shoes.
I stopped her in the middle of the mall and said, “Look around at all these people walking past us. Point out just one of them you wish you had dressed like today.”
When she couldn’t find anyone to single out, she started to laugh. She admitted that she had probably been comparing herself to models and celebrities, even though models and celebrities don’t make a lot of appearances in our local mall–or her everyday life as a stay-at-home mom in general. Next to all the regular folks shopping around us, she looked like a movie star herself. She just hadn’t realized it before.
Besides that, she doesn’t have to look like she stepped out of a magazine. Unless you have a job as a cover girl, it’s not a requirement for your life. When did we start thinking it was?
Or that our houses have to be magazine worthy, for that matter? A little bell went ding! ding! ding! in my head. I realized that I have a bad habit of comparing my house to ones that are totally out of its league. And that’s not really fair, is it?
When you spend as much time looking at beautiful houses as I do, it can be easy to get consumed by house envy. I have a panel of judges in my head like my friend does, but mine are more likely to criticize my decorating than my fashion sense.
I’ve found it helps to give myself a reality check now and then by looking at our local real estate listings for other houses in the same price range as ours. It’s the real estate version of comparing yourself to your fellow shoppers in the mall.
I live in a neighborhood where the builder constructed the same 4 or 5 floor plans a million times, so I often find actual versions of mine. And you know what? They rarely suit me as much as mine does. Most of them wouldn’t work for our family without making a lot of changes, which reminds me that we have really made this home our own.
Even when I do find something in our neighborhood I like better, I’m able to use it as inspiration because our houses are similar in size, location, and price range. The changes are usually more doable than something I saw in an English castle or a celebrity’s beach house.
So the next time you see a fabulous house that’s a million miles (and dollars) from yours, just remind yourself that it’s an unfair comparison and repeat after me:
“That house and mine are not shopping at the same mall!”