Photo by Daniel Kanter.
Over the past few weeks, the Design*Sponge team has been recounting each of their own most meaningful decisions in the domestic realm. Amy discussed her efforts to live in the moment and create the home that she wants now. Grace recalled her struggles to regain her confidence and sense of self at home. Now it’s my turn and, if I’m being quite honest, I’m not sure exactly where to begin. Not because I haven’t made any meaningful decisions or because I can’t recall any particular moments, but because my greatest decision about my home life was, in essence, about making decisions. Over the past few years, I have made a number of wildly impulsive, gut-fueled, life-changing decisions—each of which was made on my own, solitary volition, oftentimes in direct opposition to the advice of my friends, family, and colleagues. And you know what? I have not regretted a single one of those decisions. Not a single one.
“That’s all fine and good,” you might say. “But what am I supposed to take from that? You make AWESOME decisions. Good-for-freaking-you. So what?” Making rash, foolhardy decisions on the off-chance that they might work out is a total crapshoot—not particularly good advice and not really the best way to govern one’s life. So, allow me to back up a little bit and reframe my point.
I think that the moment I began making my best decisions, no matter how seemingly impulsive they were, was the moment that I began truly understanding myself. I know that’s totally Eat-Pray-Love of me to say, but it’s the truth. Up until recently, I allowed people’s ideas of who I am and what I should be doing with my life inform many of my decisions. I followed advice given to me based on other people’s lives, on other people’s paths, and other people’s good fortunes. What I ultimately realized, though, is that other people’s advice, no matter how well-intentioned or clear-minded, can often have the same effect as an ill-prescribed medication: what might work for some people might not work for you. At all. Eventually, after more than a few ill-prescribed decisions and life-paths, I came to the rather simple (but nonetheless monumental) realization that it was I who knew myself best and I who knew what made me the happiest. In short: I learned to trust my gut.
A little less than three years ago, on February 13th, 2011, I met my boyfriend, Daniel. After dating my him for roughly four months, I went with my gut and decided to move in with him. Although many a nay-sayer (and my therapist) told me that we were moving wayyyy too fast, I knew that it felt absolutely, unquestionably right. I boxed up all of my things in my tiny, Clinton Hill apartment and moved them to our new fifth floor walk-up in downtown Brooklyn. I have not once regretted it.
Less than a year later, in January 2012, Daniel and I were walking down Atlantic Avenue and saw a puppy adoption truck parked in front of the neighborhood vet. We walked in, decided to take a rambunctious pitbull for a test walk, fell in love within the course of one block, and took her back home with us. When I told my friends and family that Daniel and I had just welcomed a gigantic, over-energetic pit baby into our lives, many of them reacted with the same wide-eyed vexation, as if to say, “giiiiiirl, you crazy.” And perhaps it was a little bit crazy. We were two students in our twenties living in a one bedroom apartment in Brooklyn. But you know what? That little nugget has made my life happier and more fulfilled than most of the other “good” decisions I’ve made in the past. NO REGRETS. BOOM.
A few months after adopting Mekko, Daniel and I were walking her down the street when a woman approached us with a horrific, mangy mess of a dog. She informed us that she had just found the dog a few blocks away and was trying to find its owner. She needed to get back home to her own dog and wondered if we might be able to take over. We obliged and, really, really long story short, we ended up with dog number two—an adorable, elderly stray that needed dental work, neutering, and more than a little TLC. As many of my friends were quick to inform me, it was insane. But clearly, insane is my jam. That little stray got cleaned up and turned into this cutie pie, a tiny bundle of fur that will cuddle up to me no matter where we are. NO REGRETS. BLAMO!
Then—in rather quick and disorientating succession, Daniel and I decided to get engaged and buy a house in Kingston, New York. Depending on who you asked, we were either maddeningly, nauseatingly in love or out of our damned minds. Probably a little bit of both. Still, if you ask me, I will tell you that I’ve never been happier, that my life has never been fuller, and that—surprise, surprise—I have no regrets.
While many of these life changes have happened at breakneck speed for me, getting to this point of gut-trusting decision-making delirium did not happen quickly. It took me a long time to realize that what seemed to work for my friends and colleagues didn’t necessarily work for me. What people my age wanted wasn’t necessarily what I wanted. It took more than a little introspection and self-acceptance to come to the understanding that I was a twenty-something guy that would rather stay inside with my knitting and dogs than go out to party—and that was okay. I’m was a twenty-something guy that got more excitement out of the dishwashing/dog-walking/dirt-digging of domesticity than living the so-called single-and-fabulous life. I knew, deep down, that I wanted to build a home and a family and once I finally accepted that, I was able to let go of my inhibitions and be the crazy, out-of-control homebody that I’ve always wanted to be.
While not everybody is in the position to drop everything and go utterly, domestically nuts, the real lesson here is less about the specifics and more about accepting what makes you as an individual happy—even when that isn’t what your peers expect of you. To put it plainly: Haterz gunna hate, you gotta do you. THE END.
Photo by Daniel Kanter.