My Privileged Anxiety

I hate change. Surprises suck, too.  Do not – and I really mean this – do not ever throw me a surprise party.  I’m not the type of person who says, “No, no. Don’t make a big deal.” when I don’t mean it.  I mean it.   And if you tell me you don’t want a surprise party, I will believe you.  So don’t be disappointed when the dark home you return to remains dark.  I took you at your word.

It’s not surprising, then, that I am a nester.  I like my cozy spaces. I like to stay within a reasonable radius of my home for errands and shopping and entertaining and socializing. In fact, this website started because I was trying to make my new home a comfortable nest – finding fun and quirky things around town helped me to line feathers over the prickly branches and sharp twigs of suburbia

<— Before

Halfway —->

That’s why I’ve been on the verge of tears – big ugly ones – all day.  As I write this, I’m hearing gravel and tile and insulation and ceramic and metal and glass tumble down between the studs and slide and bump its way down a big yellow tube onto my poorly manicured front lawn.  Agita is what I’m feeling in my toes.  I don’t have words for how my shoulders and stomach and heart are dealing with the rough-and-tumble change.

Uneasy doesn’t quite do it.  Dis-ease is more like it.

And that’s even before my anxiety about the cash it’s costing to give me all of this toe-to-hairline anxiety.  Just typing that in made the hair on my neck stand at attention.

But hovering over all those feelings is guilt.  I feel guilty for feeling anxious! Who the frick-n-frack do I think I am wallowing in self-pity over a NEW bathroom?  Poor me.  I get to re-do cruddy pipes and nasty tiles and a cramped stand-in shower for sparkling white subway tile and clean PVC pipes.  And who gets to do that these days?

It’s a privilege to feel this anxiety.  And I feel lucky to have an inner “Snap out of it!” side that helps me to realize how lucky I am in the midst of my discomfort with the sounds of glass shards dancing down into a suburban dumpster. (Yes, it actually says SUBURBAN on it.) I wish more people would realize how fortunate they are to have what Twitter calls #firstworldproblems.  Especially because some first world problems are pretty horrific as well.  But they don’t include replacing broken tiles with bright new ones.

Does hearing Cher’s best line from Moonstruck help you get over yourself? Help me out with what keeps you grounded.

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About That Unique* Weblog

Adjusting to the car culture, dealing with leaving a career I love, and spouting off along the way.
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61 Responses to My Privileged Anxiety

  1. commutefromhell says:

    It’ll all be worth it at the end! And I love the #firstworldproblems Twitter account. It always put MY first world problems into perspective!

  2. I would be pulling my hair out during any sort of home remodel. They are all full of stress and mess and money worries and will it be right worries!

  3. Julia says:

    I think we all have days like that. And even though home remodels are definitely luxuries, they are also very stressful. I can relate to this, I know my life is really privileged, but sometimes it’s easy to get wrapped up in it. And I also thrive in my home environment….put together in just the right way.

  4. kvetchmom says:

    Breath, baby, breath! It’s going to look great. xo

  5. Ado says:

    You are so right – it’s a gold-plated first-world problem. But it’s still okay to have your feelings about it. And it’s going to look gorgeous. Post photos please!

  6. I’ve never heard the term “first world problem” but I fully intend to add it to my lexicon. I don’t know how I personally would handle such a change in my own house. I do believe I would totally loose it!

  7. raisingivy says:

    Ah, we added a room and bathroom to our house last year and I moaned and groaned the whole way. I hated having people around, hated the noise and the dust and the disruption, not to mention the expense. Yes, it’s a great problem to have, but I understand your angst.

  8. Oh wow. I LOVE the construction process. We just finished one and cleaning up the drywall dust for days – I find fun. Reading your post made me go awwww. I totally understand the anxiety of getting rid of the old and bringing in the new though! It’s a process. I bet the end is great and you’ll have a great AFTER picture. 😉

  9. No. No. No. I understand reno anxiety. I think it’s a real syndrome. I had it when we reno’ed our first Montclair home. I got over it pretty fast though. . .the new bathroom was so fab we did the kitchen! Hang tough. It’ll be worth it.
    Never heard the #firstworldproblem Twitter reference before so I learned something new today; thank you.

    • Thanks for the support! Part of my anxiety is that we JUST finished the other bathroom, and there were so many changes to the original plan (due to creative plumbing during past owner’s reigns) that it’s not nearly as great as it was meant to be. Scary!

  10. Stacey says:

    Oh, I feel the exact same way about surprises. Unfortunately, my MIL has yet to figure that out (despite repeated reminders). I guess she’s hoping that one day she finds the perfect one?? Good luck with your remodel! That kind of disruption is enough to tip me into total craziness! 🙂

  11. Anna says:

    i’m so with you that it is totally nerve-wracking, even if it is also a first world problem. we haven’t reno’d anything yet, and i’m not sure how i would do. change and i are totally not friends.

  12. Mayor Gia says:

    Ha! I hate change too. I’m moving and in theory I’m super excited about it, but a part of me HATES the change. It fills me with anxiety. Eeek! I can’t wait til the change is over and I’m in my new place.

  13. While I actually love surprises, I feel your pain on the construction process. We just had a bunch of work done on our house. Fortunately, all of the guys working on it were great and nice to the kids, but having people in your space is always stressful. There is also the added anxiety of wondering whether it will turn out as you hoped. Good luck! It will be over soon 🙂

  14. heidi says:

    I totally get this! I feel guilty about being anxious. In fact, just today I felt guilty for being so anxious about some good things happening in my life. I need to ‘snap out of it’ too. Sigh. I really, really get this and I suddenly feel better that I’m not the only one. Thanks. 😉

    • I know what you’re talking about! And of course you’re anxious. It’s a HUGE deal – life changing. More so than a bathroom with shiny tile. Excitement and Anxiety are two sides of the same coin, I think.

  15. Stephanie says:

    Anxiety can’t be logicked away, though! It’s ok to feel it. I hope that you have your new gleaming white bathroom soon!

  16. stephanie says:

    Good for your #firstworldproblem perspective. Before you got to that – I thought it myself – versed in the Twittersphere as I am. The whole process is stressful, no doubt about it. I think its ok to acknowledge it. I bet it will be beautiful!

  17. I can not wait to see how that bathroom turns out!! I am certain it will be beautiful. Home renovations can be stressful. I am sure it will all be worth it when it is finished!

  18. suzy016 says:

    i completely identify – while i know we’re lucky to have first world problems, i find it difficult to completely eliminate who i am and how i feel (i.e. type a and stressed) in a situation like yours! here’s wishing you a quick construction process and a lovely new room to relax in!

  19. I would totally focus on the end result. Though I admit, just looking at that makes me anxious. Ack!

  20. Christine says:

    I am totally with you. It is VERY DISQUIETING to hear your house falling apart around your ears and HUMBLING to see the studs and realize the thing you spend your life in, that houses everyone you love, is just made out of wood and was put together by a human.

    That said, I have those same fucking pink tiles and I DREAM of the day I can hear them getting smashed to smithereens.

  21. You have a gift. If you had asked me what I would think about a piece layout remodeling a bathroom and anxiety, well, it’s not usually my cup of tea. But here’s the thing: You took me right there with you, I even felt that little ball of anxiety in my gut too. Bottom line: great writing makes anything interesting! Really enjoyed this piece and congrats on your new bath, Erin

    • Thank you so much! I’m trying to create a silver lining, and taking a shower at the local YMCA this AM led to a wonderful conversation with a fantastic woman (after the shower, not during…). So, there you go: silver lining!

  22. Ali says:

    I love the journey this post goes on, good writing skills. And good luck with the reno! You are lucky to have it but you are also entitled to feel uneasy! x

  23. Oh how I love this. We do get bogged down with 1st World bemoaning, but are we not in a 1st World country? Should we debate the philosphy of relativism? What is normal? What does it mean if I find you to be normal? It means your writing is simply great for it has a universal voice which is gentle, clear, and entertaining yet challenges the reader to think. As far as advice, I haven’t conquered anxiety with any healthful means. Biting my nails, eating Reese’s peanut butter cups. Staying awake all night. Back when I was a rich housewife, we had the entire backyard demolished and reconstructed to include a happy shiny pool. I was miserable with anxiety and felt guilty for all of it. I simply slept. During the day. A lot. Did I mention that I love this. (Is there a word limit here, I am anticipating being cut off at any moment). 😉

    • Yes! The philosophy of relativism! A few of the Yeah Write posts have dealt with the different types of grief, and that’s what prompted this particular bout of navel gazing. And not to worry, I don’t think ANYone would find me normal. 😉

  24. My whole childhood was spent under construction and I married an architect, so “Can we hang those shelves today” often becomes “Let’s add a breakfast nook.” Thankfully, we are constrained by economics right now, or I would be living in a construction trailer. Renovation is nerve-wrecking and very hard on a relationship. Have you seen the “30 Rock” where they go to Ikea? It is like that, except 100 times worse. “How did I ever love a man who likes emerald-tinted granite?! You are a monster!”

    Good luck with your rehab though. I’m sure it will look great in the end. My coping skill as a kid was to just never be in the house. Now my parents’ house is beautiful…of course, I don’t live there, so I don’t get to enjoy my portion of the investment.

    • I forgot to add the extent of our childhood construction: One morning my sister woke up and we had no stairs. One of the construction guys had to carry her on a ladder across the gaping hole where our stairs had been. Probably to punish my parents, she is more angered by change then I am, so they don’t get to buy new furniture, paint a room or change a recipe without a fit.

      • I actually placed a full laundry basket in front of the door so the kids wouldn’t wander in during the night and fall through to the downstairs hallway. I can’t imagine having no stairs in the AM!

    • Yes! I saw that episode. It’s so true. How does stress manifest in so many silly ways? Thanks for the well wishes!

  25. First world problems – this is the first of heard of that term. It’s brilliant. Hard to comprehend if you’ve never been able to see anything other than where you live. But traveling is the best thing I’ve ever done! So happy to see how other people live. And with so much less!

    • Absolutely. Travel to varied places is a must. Not just to see different places, but to be out of your comfort zone. Which is what this experience is for me! I’m trying to travel to my cozy place…

  26. Those pictures scare me. Isn’t that why we have contractors? 🙂

  27. XLMIC says:

    LOL! My husband is a contractor so I hear about these stories from the ‘other side’ all the time! It will truly be over before you know it!

    • I’m sure he has loads of stories! I just had a talk with my contractor, and he told me the plumbing cost would be more than doubled. And only half of the changes are optional. Ack! The bowels of a house are frightening. Truly frightening!

  28. I’m with you on the anxiety and the hatred of surprises! Hope the remodel turns out amazing!

  29. lifewithkaishon says:

    I hope it turns out perfectly : ) Crossing my fingers for you!

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