I have recently entered a phase of life that has made me adult harder than I have ever adulted before; house-hunting. I have been using words like “mortgage broker” and “freehold” with little-to-no understanding of what those words actually mean. I have been throwing around suggested offers with very little appreciation of how much money that actually is. I have been using spreadsheets (made by James) and going to viewings (arranged by James). Actually, if truth be told, James has been doing the lion share of the adulting, but I’ve been there too – and what a headache of decision making it has been.
When you first begin looking for a house, you don’t really know what you’re looking for. Sure, you plan your dream home with a library straight out of Beauty and the Beast and a basketball court in the basement (so James can have something to do while I’m reading all my leather-bound first editions) but when you actually take a look at what is on the market, you get slapped right back to reality and have some very hard choices to make. Which area do we want to live in? How big does the living room need to be? Can I do life without a bathtub? I’ll answer that one for you: no, you can’t, and no one should have to.
As you proceed down the rabbit hole of house viewings, you realise the questions you’re asking aren’t about the type of house you want, but rather the type of life you want to live. Choosing between somewhere bigger (but in a less-than-ideal neighbourhood) and a shoebox in a great location near the train station becomes a question of priorities. Do I value hospitality or convenience? Do we want to be able to have lots of people round, or do we want a nice little house to keep to ourselves and an easy commute to work? And what about work? I’m arranging my life around getting to this job at this company – but am I planning on being there for the foreseeable future?
And fair warning to any couple who begins this journey: if you tell people you’re house-hunting, they will automatically assume it’s so you can start having lots of babies so you might as well start asking yourself those questions too. Whether or not you even want to factor kids into your decision-making process is irrelevant, because well-meaning loved ones will start talking catchment areas and number of bedrooms until your brain can’t help but think about it, and you will want to punch these people – from the loving place – right in their assumption-making faces.
But not only does house-hunting make you take a look at the life you want to live; it also forces you to compare that dream life to the one you’re living right now. Much in the same way that thinking about getting married makes you ask a lot of questions about the relationship you’re in, or job-hunting makes you analyse the type of person you want to be. We stop, we take stock, and we don’t always like what we see.
But why do we wait for these big life events to check-in with ourselves? Why does it take getting engaged or climbing the property ladder to make us say, “Hey, what am I doing here?” Maybe it’s because we don’t have time in day-to-day life to ask these big questions, or it’s not something we ever think about doing until life forces our hand, but, to quote Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Perhaps we shouldn’t wait for the big moments in life before we stop and take stock of where we’re headed.
So this is my gift to you; a reminder that you’re living a life right now and it may be time to do a little MOT. Is this the job you want to be doing? Are your relationships all where they should be? What are you spending your time, money and energy on? Do these things line up with your priorities or the person God is calling you to be? I hope mostly your answer is yes, but, realistically, I’m sure there are things we’d all change if only we’d stop to notice them.
So stop. Notice. Ask yourself what is driving you, and in which direction you need to go next. Your day-to-day existence may not seem that important, but every choice you make, every penny you spend, every minute of time you have, is laying the foundation (house pun, you’re welcome) for the life you’re going to live – and you don’t need to take out a mortgage before you can start living it.
Written by Chloe Satchell-Cobbett, Deputy Editor, Liberti