For the past two and a half months, I’ve been wading my way out of the shallow end and venturing into the deep(ish) waters of quasi-adulthood. For the past two and a half months, I’ve been trying to buy my very first home.
What started out as a organized and mapped out, “Oh, this will take three months tops. This will happen by this date and this will happen by this date and I will move in by this date,” has actually turned into a housing free for all. My phone has morphed into a hodge-podge of real estate apps and mortgage calculators — and I’ve learned more about home financing-related acronyms (like ESCROW and OTP) than I’ve ever cared to know. I’ve put in offers only to be rejected by sellers and I’ve spent lunch breaks, evenings and early Saturday mornings driving all around the city to look at potential nests. I have looked back at my mapped out process over and over again and compared it to the way things were shaking out in reality and I’ve grown weary and frustrated.
And in the past two and a half months I’ve realized this: There is actually no map.
I like my map. My map looks neat and has all of the creases in the right places, because I folded it just right and am certain it’s perfect.
But my map is wrong. My map is the equivalent of Monopoly money at the bank. It’s worthless and might as well not even exist.
And the process of trying to buy a home? It has reminded me time and time again that my neatly folded map is nothing but a fire starter. And friends, it has been infuriating as all get out.
But, like most of life — the process has taught me much so far and has slowly ignited the process of refining me. How? The process of looking for my very first home has exposed and reinforced the existence of every character flaw / ounce of ugly that exists within me.
For instance, I’ve re-learned:
1. I’m a good talker, but a bad walker.
Each time I’ve put in an offer on a place, I’ve prayed, “God, if I am not supposed to get this house, help me not get this house. Help the offer be rejected and allow another buyer to seal the deal.” I’ve prayed some really holy and really not my will but Yours be done sounding prayers over the past two months. And the truth? I’ve realized I’m just a huge fraud. Both times my offers have been rejected, I’ve deflated. Both times, when I got the e-mail or the text from my realtor that said, “The seller accepted another offer,” it was like someone just popped a hole in a beach ball. You could almost hear the excitement seeping out of my soul.
2. I’m fairly inflexible when I’ve made up my mind (especially if I’ve made up my mind that I am right and you are wrong).
Some people call this rigid. Some people call it stubborn. I call it having a clear vision for the direction I want to go — or just knowing what I want, for short. So when I look at a house that is totally in budget but has terrible carped and an outdated kitchen, I think, “THIS. THIS IS A MONEY PIT. HOW UNWISE WOULD IT BE TO PURCHASE THIS PLACE?” And then I walk away – far, far away – and I refuse to negotiate or reconsider. This clearly has worked out for me in that I mean it has actually not worked out for me at all. (When did people stop appreciating women who drive hard bargains?!?)
3. I am not a control freak. I am a part of a rare subset of human beings who actually cannot function if they begin to sense they are not in control.
If I could just let this truth be exposed for a second: THIS WHOLE PROCESS HAS CONSUMED ME. I’ve gotten really good at externally shrugging off the stress and telling everyone that I’m not worried, but internally I just becoming completely obsessed with ironing out every detail and getting the ducks pretty in their HGTV-decorated row. SPEAKING OF HGTV! My television has not moved – I MEAN IT HAS NOT MOVED EVEN ONCE – from HGTV for the duration of this insanity because I am constantly on the hunt for tips and tricks and ways to land my dream home.
My way of feigning control is obsession and micro-management. I want a map. No – actually, I NEED a map. But there isn’t one. There is no map. And the idea that there ever was? That I could ever plot the points and map out my trip – toward home ownership and just in life? It’s an illusion we all need to stop chasing.
In my quest for a turnkey and move-in ready home, I’ve realized this: I am the ultimate fixer-upper. I am constantly being renovated and reworked and refinished. I am not the same as I was yesterday and tomorrow, I will not be the same as I am today. I am constantly moving forward. I am continually learning (and re-learning) things about myself over and over and over again and I am endlessly in the process of being made new by the only One who can.
I have until October 1st to find a house, make an offer, get it accepted, go through the inspection / appraisal process, close and move in. That’s 71 days from today.
So for the next 71 days? I’m letting this process do work on me. And on October 1st, I may be houseless and I may be a couch surfer, but I will not be the same as I am today.
Have you ever purchased a home? Did it reveal things about you? Expose any of your weaknesses? MAKE YOU GO CRAZY?