One year ago today, I stood at my front door — MY front door — for the very first time. I took a deep breath and treasured this moment before the movers arrived. This is MY house!
Then, rather anticlimactically, I couldn’t get the door open for awhile because the lock was jammed.
Still! It was a special moment. I couldn’t help thinking of it today. I’ve mastered just the right way to turn my key so it doesn’t jam, and I’ve learned to love the odd little quirks of this house — MY house.
As I look back over this past year, I think of a really valuable lesson that I’ve learned from my home. Before I moved in, I’d made a study of Marie Kondo’s, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up. And while I am still pursuing the tidying methods, the thing I feel like I have mastered, and that has really changed so many areas of my life, is her teaching on loving your home. She teaches her readers never to speak ill of their home. To love it, cherish it, take care of it, because it takes care of you. Doing this has changed me for the better in two significant ways.
First, it has changed how I feel about where I live. Daniel and I have agreed never to complain about our home. We regularly talk about how much we love her (yes, it’s a her, and her name is Vera, thank you very much). That doesn’t mean we don’t talk about the things we want to change about her as we have time and money to do so. But we have learned to simultaneously love her just the way she is, and aspire for her to be even better. We just make sure to focus our talk in a positive way, and being conscious of how we speak has made all the difference in how we think and feel. And loving the place where I live has made a huge impact on my emotional health.
Second, I’ve learned to love other imperfect things in my life, and strive to improve them at the same time. For so long, I’ve been so focused on how to achieve perfection. It was always so frustrating to me that there was always something else to improve. I often felt overwhelmed and exhausted by the journey to the ideal, because I realized I’d never get there. I often despaired, wondering what was the point of trying if I would never arrive.
A good example would be my body. I have an ideal in my head that I know I cannot achieve. For years I waffled back and forth between getting pumped up and doing everything I could to get there, and resigning myself to a “what’s the point” unhealthy attitude. Now, I feel that I’m able to love my body for what it is, and also take note of the things I should improve without immediately spiraling into self-loathing. But it’s incredibly important to maintaining my sanity that I never complain about my body. I never make self-deprecating jokes about being fat or ugly, because those words can start to sink in.
The same applies in my work. Before I officially began my job as a manager, I felt that I needed to read every book, learn every lesson, know every answer, so that I could be the ideal leader. But that’s stupid and unrealistic. I will constantly be reading and learning throughout my career. It was naive to assume that I could — or even needed — to know everything before I could begin. As I look back over my first experiences in a leadership role, I’m able to identify what I could have done better, without hating myself for making mistakes. Instead, I am appreciative of the learning experience that that first year was. I try hard to talk about what I’ve learned, rather that what an idiot I used to be. Keeping it positive keeps me grounded.
In retrospect, this idea that how we talk about things directly affects how we feel about them is something I learned very early on in my marriage, too. I once received some very good advice to never gripe about my husband to coworkers and friends, because the more you say it, the more you feel it. As I find opportunities to speak well of Daniel (there are many) I find myself feeling more appreciative of him. This doesn’t mean ignoring major issues, or deluding yourself into thinking your partner is perfect. It’s just a helpful trick to stay positive instead of fixating on the negative. I’m so glad I’ve learned how effective this practice is with my home, and so many other things.
So, thanks to Marie Kondo, my beautiful home, and some good marital advice, I’ve learned to love and treasure the imperfect while still striving for improvement. I’ve found joy in the journey to perfection, and am at peace with never reaching my destination.