Have you ever had big ideas or big dreams only to be shot down? You hear comments from other people saying things like “That’s not realistic.” or, “Who do you think you are?” Or maybe it is your own inner voice you are listening to when it tells you, ” You are not the kind of person who…” or ” What makes you think you can…”
I am not immune to the naysayers, whether they are other people or the nasty little gremlins that live in my own head. This week I had an experience that altered the way I see impossible dreams.
We have lived in our house for two years. Once each year I have gotten a note in the mailbox saying “I love your house. If you would be interested in selling, please give me a call. I am not a realtor, just someone looking to buy a house in the neighborhood.” We tossed the notes without a thought.
One day I was outside and a woman walked up to me. She explained that she was the person leaving the messages, and that she didn’t mean to seem like a stalker, but she hadn’t been able to find the right house and every time she walked by our house, she couldn’t help but think that it was her perfect house.
We chatted, and I told her we were not interested in selling and she thanked me and walked away.
A week later we got a letter in the mail from her. She said she was most sincere and very interested in buying our house. She was willing to pay a significant amount above selling value.
At first we blew it off; we were not interested in selling or moving. But then I started to think about the money we would make on our house, and how it might offer us a chance to buy something even better. The offer was too good not to consider. I decided to look and see what other houses were available in the neighborhood.
I found the perfect house. It was nearby, and many times I had admired it. It looked forlorn and neglected, but I knew that with a little love, it could be a stunning home. We arranged to see it and spent a morning combing through, making a list of improvements that would be needed to make it both beautiful and functional.
Before I could consider buying the house, I had to envision how it could look and what the costs of improvements would be. It needed significant updates. I planned a total kitchen renovation and drew out several options for adding a family room. The house was already more expensive than our current home and we would have had to put at least $100,000 into it. Still, it was the smallest, cheapest house on a street full of large, gorgeous homes. It would be a great investment, and I had absolutely no doubt that we would get all of our money back and then some.
We considered selling our perfect little cottage. It is the prettiest house on the street, has professionally designed perennial gardens and a screen porch where we have whiled away many happy hours. This is the house we sold our big house in the country for, the happy little house where we started a new life. We love it here.
We realized that for the deal to work there were a lot of ifs and a lot of potential hoops to jump through. It was like chasing a unicorn, difficult and maybe even an impossible task.
The new house won us over. We agreed to take on the challenge. We would buy the potential money pit, the diamond in the rough, the elusive dream house. Full of adrenalin fueled excitement about the potential and possibility, I didn’t sleep for four days. I thrive on possibility and I could see the house finished and us living in it. It was so clear in my mind that it seemed very, very real.
Without a reason, our buyer changed her mind. In an instant, my new house dreams went up in a cloud of unicorn dust.
To say that I feel sad and disappointed would be an understatement, yet the experience came with many positives. I felt a loss that I wouldn’t get to renovate that house, which told me that my instincts about buying it were right. If I had felt relief that the deal didn’t go through, I would have learned not to trust my instincts. I have lived long enough and am old enough to trust my gut. It is a lesson well learned.
I also gained confidence in my abilities to know what I like and what I want for my life. I had that kitchen designed in ten minutes flat. I told my contractor that my design decisions would not hold up construction-I was solid in my understanding of what I wanted, and I am confident that my decisions would not waver. I am not inclined towards quick decision making; I often obsess over every little detail. For me, decisiveness is a good thing; it means I have stopped questioning my knowledge and experience. My decisions will be based on what I love and what is right for my life, not what someone else might choose. That is not bad advice for a life well lived.
Lastly, despite it not working out, I’m not sorry we went after it. This experience will not force me to play it safe, live in the “real world” and stop dreaming. The naysayers and gremlins do not win; I will not succumb to an ” I told you so” mentality. With no risk, there is no reward. Things didn’t work out this time, but if I stop planning, stop dreaming and stop being visionary, I will guarantee that my life will not change and grow in unexpected and life changing ways.
I will keep on chasing unicorns. Because if you never try to find something amazing and wonderful, you almost certainly never will.
What about you? Do you chase dreams? I’d love to hear your unicorn stories!