Sixteen. That is the number of houses that have sold between the short distance of my house and the beginning of my street since we pulled our house off the market two years ago because it wouldn’t sell. I haven’t actually counted, but I would estimate there to be only 40 houses altogether on this piece of road. Quick math tells me that nearly half of the houses along this short stretch of my street have changed hands, and at times a SOLD sign has appeared the same day the sign went up.
I have watched moving trucks come and go in 16 driveways and 16 families full of hope, joy, and anticipation as they have unloaded the trucks and cars of their belongings, beginning a new chapter in their lives in the process.
I have watched family members and friends sell their homes and move to a new dream more times than I care to think about, and I have watched the house I pictured moving my family into purchased by someone else.
I have watched someone else living my exact dream.
Every time I watch this life event unfold for others, it’s like I feel a knife twisting just a little bit further into my gut. Fresh, burning tears well up in my eyes as I watch someone else move forward in their lives while I feel like I stay stagnant. While I am thrilled for others, especially those I know, even in being happy for them, I am hurting. I am grieving not having that thing I want all over again. Every single time.
I wish there were an easy fix for this – this dealing with watching someone else live your dream because I would be so there. I would love to cure my envy and jealousy in this area, but there is no easy cure. I have found that coping with watching others live your dream takes a concentrated and conscience effort, and this effort is ongoing.
Following are the things I have focused on every time I see a new for sale sign go up and that familiar burn in my eyes.
- Identify it for what it is and own it. Call your envy for what it is so you can move on and cope. Trying to convince yourself that you are not envious, jealous, or even angry about someone else getting what you want will prohibit you from accomplishing the other steps, which really are helpful.
- Remind yourself that as someone else is living your dream, they also have struggles you know nothing about to deal with. Even though it can look like everyone else has the perfect life, they don’t. Everyone who is human has something, some sort of problem to deal with. This leads to my next point.
- Perhaps limiting social media could be beneficial. Social media can be a great way to stay in touch, but it does give a warped sense of what reality is. Generally the things that show up on Facebook and other media outlets are the best things in the lives of others. After all, when was the last time you saw someone confess to all the ways they failed the day before. Do people put pictures of their piles of laundry, their disaster of a toy room, or their children physically duking it out on the living room floor on Facebook? Not generally. I spoke of myself taking this media hiatus here.
- Focus on what really matters. What really matters to you. Sure, this thing you want that everyone else seems to get feels like it is an enormous mountain in your life at times, but when you see the magnitude of this mountain appear again in your life, focus on the flowers at the foot of the mountain. Much like finding things to be thankful for, remember the blessings you have in your life that others may not have.
- Celebrate the joys and successes of others. In my case, I focus on being happy for loved ones and family members who are starting over in a new house. Since I came so close to living that dream myself, I really do know how excited they are. It sounds harder than it is. Just celebrate with them in whatever the successes are in the lives of your loved ones. Maybe it’s a new job, the birth of a baby, or a huge accomplishment they have been working toward. Genuinly work on being a good friend. Their excitement is contagious if you are open to being a part of it.
- Develop an action plan to get that dream of yours. Find a way around that mountain. Find a new way to fulfill your dream. Or, make a new dream. Focusing on something else that brings you hope is often the best medicine. In the meantime, focus on being the best you.
- Start a journal. A journal is a great place for you to share your true feelings. A journal provides you with a safe place to really say those things that you would never really say out loud. It is the place where you can have a temper tantrum on paper without hurting anyone else. Not only is this a great coping mechanism for the here and now, but it is also a coping skill that can help in the future as you go back and read of the raw emotions that once held you prisoner that no longer do. Reading of times in the past where you have struggled and have come out alive can give you strength for weathering the next storm life brings your way.
- Be generous. Give to others. There really is nothing better than that feeling you get when you give to others with no strings attached. Volunteer, serve within your community, or become a regular donor to an organization that resonates with you. Doing so completely takes the focus off you and puts it on someone else who really needs it.
- Focus on mastering one thing. Maybe you have wanted to learn to sew, perhaps you find cooking to be therapeutic – take a sewing class, take a cooking class, or learn how to teach yourself. Just find one thing that would make you feel like a better you and go after it.
- Find the positive side to you not getting that thing you want. I will warn you, this can be hard, but doing so is incredibly freeing. In my case, our faith played a big role in our change of plans. Doors were simply slammed shut, and there was nothing we could do about it. So, we found some windows to pursue – and although it’s been a difficult road, these windows have been opening. For us, we decided that my husband needed to go back to school and make a career change before we finally move (at least that is the plan for now). It things go as planned, it will be more than six years in the making when we move, but we will be moving surrounded by a better set of circumstances than we would have moved under before. Our future will be brighter because we haven’t gotten that thing we wanted. As painful as it still is, I have found numerous benefits to being forced to stay put. When the emotions come out, new and raw again, I focus on the positives that have come as a result of this trying time.
There is no way, at least that I have found, to not feel hurt when you can’t have your dream. It is only salt in the wounds when you watch someone else get your dream. Although part of being human is experiencing these emotions, they don’t have to overcome you. These emotions don’t have to control and consume you. You can choose to use the death of a dream to take you to a new and even better you and a new and better dream. I still feel that twinge when another house sells, but I just commit to working my way through these 10 things, and so can you.