This is actually an insane fear to be talking about because I sound like I am a character on Big Little Lies, as if I have nothing more substantial to be afraid of — but hear me out! It’s actually a cover for worrying about normal life milestones you are supposed to be reaching and whether I measure up to my peers. Some people can cheat and seem like they are doing awesome in life just by having a really good aesthetic or bragging a lot! I don’t have those skills so I have to worry about whether I am behind or doing something wrong.
I applied for the apartment I live in on the spot after my friend and I saw it. She fished out $50 in cash from her purse so I could give it to the landlord and reserve my “spot” until the background check went through. It had good vibes, we decided. It was big and airy because of the large windows, and the floors were hardwood. I reached a few goals by selecting this apartment: the rent is slightly less than a third of my monthly income so I can save a lot of money (for ??? I’m still unsure if I want to buy a house, which I am also insecure about! But I need a 6 month amount of savings, so I am starting there) and I can walk to my favorite beaches and coffee shops in Minneapolis. I moved in a few months later.
The thing is, I am insecure about if this place is ugly. It’s a 1970’s building in a neighborhood made up entirely of either beautiful early 1900’s buildings or luxury condos. The walls here are BROWN and I’m not allowed to paint them which feels like torture. The kitchen is tiny and old and there is some serious 1970s contact paper going on inside the cupboards.
I’m not sure if I am supposed to be proud of living here or not and I kind of ricochet back and forth between the affirmative and negative response. On one hand a lot of people live with their parents or with roommates and this is the first time I’ve officially lived by myself and I am in the city proper and not the (cheaper) suburbs where a lot of other people are. I’m where I want to be and I’m responsible with my money and I get a lot of daily joy from being able to walk everywhere. On the other hand it seems like everyone who doesn’t live with their parents has bought a house! My cousins who are a decade younger than me have bought a house! One of my friends has a house that costs $400k!!! My ex who is borderline actually developmentally challenged has a house with his wife who is like, a receptionist.
AND all of these places look incredible in pictures. I actually don’t have style whatsoever. I can’t decorate my apartment unless I decide to get serious about it and spend like $2k on decorations which seems insane and like not something I care to prioritize. So it’s ugly inside and out. I bought a nice couch, but only because buying a sectional was my American Dream and all I want, ever, is to be laying horizontal in the same room as all my friends who are also horizontal playing on our phones or watching tv in the background and laughing. But one piece of furniture doesn’t help with pictures. I don’t know how to make it look like I have my shit together.
I don’t want to be the kind of person who spends time thinking about things like throw pillows, but I also want my apartment to be beautiful. I think, historically, people have solved this problem by getting married and having a wife to outsource all of that to but I’m the wrong gender and the wrong decade for that to work.
My apartment is not cute and I need to figure out if I $2,000 care about that or not because then I should just get it decorated better. Or I could move down the street to the kind of fancy apartment I have always wanted to live in that has floor to ceiling windows where I wouldn’t have to decorate at all. I’m fine with living in a tiny studio, but I’m not fine with being constantly stressed out about money, which I would be.
When I think about this, I actually reaffirm to myself that I am happy with the apartment I found. But in my daily life, I am insecure about what it represents. I am trying, but I’m not there and I’m not willing to fake it. I’m behind everyone I know from high school who wanted to get married and buy a house and live in the suburbs because they cared about those things enough to prioritize them. I prioritized being able to walk to a coffeeshop??? That feels weird to type out and realize is an official opinion I have considering it’s really not a big deal to get in a car and drive to a Starbucks.
It’s hard to realize I am not measuring up. The priorities I have are not the priorities most people have and it is SHOWING. Guys I date who pride themselves on the thing a lot of guys pride themselves on (being able to make money) don’t like my apartment because it’s not very nice (I think they’re materialistic, it’s a fun convo), and girls don’t like it because it’s not well-decorated and cozy.
Any way I look at this, I’m falling behind in a very specific way that is available for everyone to witness.
I wonder when I am going to be happy with where I live and it is going to deliver to me every expectation I have ever had. I wonder when I will have a beautiful view of some natural phenomena like mountains or an ocean and also be able to walk to restaurants and also not have any noisy neighbors and also not need a car. I wonder when am I going to be satisfied and not self-conscious about whether I am a loser compared to everyone else who is my age. The shoe is going to drop at some point, I was convinced at one point. But now I wonder if it is a carrot dangling in front of me, always promising that deep satisfaction is just one gigantic purchase away.