The Feeling of Lack and How It Keeps Us From Enjoying Our Homes
And How to Move Past It
One thing I do know is that regaining the joy I initially felt for my home wouldn’t come through redesigning or adding more things. It’s much less about what my home looks like and much more about the lens through which I view it.
I remember driving down the street I now live on back in 2017, dreaming of a day I would live in one of the houses I watched flick by. I wondered what type of people lived in them, what they did with their time, and what they did with all that space.
When the dream came true and we moved into our home in 2020, I had arrived where a dream and reality meet in the present. There was excitement and energy for all the ways I would make it our own. I had worked hard, and now it was time to enjoy it. But the joy fumbled from my grip. And that shook me to my core.
An acute sense of shame bubbles up when you’ve achieved a big life goal, and you suddenly find yourself unable to access gratitude for it. But I write this—and most of my essays on other cringe topics like envy and lack—as a signal, a warning, and a beacon of hope. Destinations and dreams rarely bring about the change we believe they will if the drive to get there is to outrun oneself.
My inability to appreciate the fruits of my labor has to do with low self-esteem, feelings of worthlessness, and the fact I have subconsciously “assessed” my place in the world based on external responses (like being liked, or Instagram). We are often women who were the “good” girls and now find ourselves at odds with what this means in adulthood. So, when I found myself living out a long-held dream, I didn’t feel like I was worthy of any of it. Why should I have so much when the world is so cruel? The guilt cycle is wash, rinse, repeat.
Here’s what I’ve learned: When we measure our worth based on what’s inside of us, we set our own standards for ourselves, and we can better cope with life's inevitable ups and downs. When we measure our worth based on external input, we’ll always strive, the goalpost will constantly keep shifting, and nothing will ever feel like it’s enough. This ripples out into every aspect of our lives: our jobs, our relationships, our homes.
The good news is once we see that acquiring a desired home (or job, car, relationship, bag—you name it) lack shows us that what we are feeling is not about the thing but the meaning we give it. And that is something we can work with.