Don’t Compare Yourselves to Others – Good for the Dog; Good for You

Honey stands on the porch with her toy.

The front porch is the best place for me and my stuffie to watch the world go by. I don’t know why you think you need better furniture cushions. People are just crazy.

You might think I’m the last person to worry about bucking society’s standards.

I’m car-free in the country that worships the automobile. I don’t own a television, cell phone, or iPod. I don’t pluck my eyebrows, shave my legs, or color my hair. I spend hours each day writing about dogs without getting paid for it.

But tell me someone is coming to look at my house and I turn into lime Jello full of suspended insecurities.

Is My House Good Enough?

Half my town’s population is students. Which means that every graduation season, there aren’t enough hotel rooms to fit all the visiting families.

Many local residents rent out their homes for graduation for crazy amounts of money.

We’ve thought about it for years but never felt we could get the house ready in time. This year, after finishing some plumbing, electrical, and other projects, we’ve advertised our pet friendly house for rent over this year’s graduation weekend.

I’ve been cleaning the house to show to perspective renters. And it’s making me insane.

I can’t look at my sweet little house without seeing all the things wrong with it. Which means that I’m never finished. There’s always another job to do.

Those of you with old houses know what I mean.

You fix one crack in the plaster just to have another one appear. Paint stays fresh for about a year or two before the dozens of layers decide to let loose from the wood and beg you to strip them off.

Oh, and let’s not forget the Golden fur machine who leaves her mark ten seconds after I’ve swept every surface in a room clean.

The crazy thing is I’m usually very happy with my house. It’s exactly what I would choose for myself.

Making Choices

I know I could take my skills to a private bank and more than double my income instantly. I could go into debt to pay someone to keep up my home. Or I could trade up the house to a newer model with fewer quirks (and charm).

This is the guest room.

I love my charming guest room until I imagine someone wondering where the television is or why I have a windup alarm clock.

But I’ve chosen work that’s more meaningful to me than money. I’ve chosen to spend my summers sailing instead of doing house chores. And I’ve chosen to fill my home with a lovable, fur spreading entity.

I feel good about those choices. Until I think about showing my house to someone who can afford to pay $40,000 a year in tuition for their child.

That’s when I realize what my house looks like to others with more conventional, American ideas about housing.

And I start feeling bad.

Unfortunately, I can’t look to Honey for help because many dogs also compare what they have to what someone else has.

If You Have It, It’s Better Than Mine

My first dogs, Agatha and Christie, were often jealous of each other.

If Agatha started chewing on a toy, Christie would immediately find another toy and start chewing on it. As we watched, Christie would look up at Agatha. Sometimes she’d parade by her with her toy and slump down on a pillow with a loud whumpf.

Pretty soon Agatha couldn’t stand it any longer. She’d go over to Christie at which time Christie would joyfully jump up, steal Agatha’s original toy, and run out of the room with it.

Honey is an only dog. But we’ve seen the same thing happen with foster dogs.

If the other dog has it, it must be better than what I have.

The crazy thing with me is that, unlike the dogs, I don’t want what other people have.

Stop Looking at Yourself Through Other People’s Eyes

I don’t want a $750,000 McMansion with cheap Home Depot moldings in a mediocre great room that looks like a cracker box standing on end. I don’t want a television or a car. I certainly don’t want a cell phone. And I wouldn’t change a thing about my cozy house.

Honey the Golden Retriever on bed in front of portrait

You’re certain to have sweet dreams sleeping under my portrait.

But I expect to feel judged by potential renters. It’s already happening and I haven’t even met anyone yet.

I’ve got to stop looking at my life with the attitudes I’m projecting on people who will be looking at my home.

I’m just making myself miserable. And I’m acting like a dog who wants another dog’s bone. Even though I know the other dog’s bone wouldn’t be nearly as savory to me as the bone I already have.

It’s a good lesson to learn, for Honey and for me.

What triggers jealousy in your dog? Do certain things cause you to judge your own life less favorably when compared to others?

 

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Comments

  1. What triggers jealousy in your dog? When our cat wants to sit with me! All I have to do is say the name “Cody” and Dakota will appear :)

    Do certain things cause you to judge your own life less favorably when compared to others?—-do you have a few days? Absolutely. Too much to list here

  2. My dog is jealous of the cats…the cats could care less….Sometimes I feel the same way as you do about my house or car. Except I wish I had bigger, better, more. But then I ask…would it make me happier? As long as the answer remains, “no”, then I don’t worry. Good luck.

  3. We think as long as you are happy and healthy that should be all you need. Easier said than done sometimes. Have a wonderful Monday.
    Best wishes Molly

  4. Well, since we live in an RV and are truly starving artists, I think we buck the trend too. LOL. These dogs are always jealous of each other. Nobody can pet one, without petting the other.

  5. My dogs are always jealous of what the other dogs have – even if they all have the exact same thing. I will buy 3 antlers that are about the same size and shape. They each get one… yet, they’re each so concerned about scoping out the other dogs’ antlers that they barely chew on their own. For me, the thing that gets me jealous is other people’s landscaping! I hate doing yardwork, but I love a beautiful landscape so I’m always jealous of other people’s gorgeous yards! Silly, I know.

  6. Relax. You are renting a room for the weekend, not selling the house. People will be happy to have a place to stay and your warmth and your pets will be welcoming.
    I used to stay at B & Bs when traveling in Europe and as long as the place was clean and nest, particularly the bathroom, I never noticed anything else.

  7. Pamela – I think you’re far too hard on yourself. If your house is even half as charming as yourself, then I’m sure it’s lovely indeed. I laughed when you said you felt nervous about the families that could “afford to pay $40,000 a year in tuition for their child”. You might be surprised by home many CAN’T afford it, but are doing it anyways. Much of my graduating class is still paying off the loans we took out to go to a “good” school. Many of those families will feel right at home in your home with all it’s quirks and to do projects than they would in a spotless McMansion.

    Now if you have any tips for curing puppy jealousy, I’m all ears. Kol, Fe & Lu are the WORST.

    • I have to agree with Jodi… I definitely couldn’t afford portions of my education, and I’ve got the loans to show it! I would have felt right at home in a house with a friendly family like yours (complete with an insanely adorable dog). :)

  8. Does it count as jealously when everdog tries to be a lap dog at the exact same moment :-)

  9. I don’t know that Zora gets jealous since she’s the only dog in a houseful of cats – but she does get protective of her “stuff” if she thinks the cats are interested in it (which they aren’t). But that doesn’t mean that all the cats’ toys aren’t fair game for her! And my life, my stuff – do I worry about what other people will think of it? Generally no – but that’s because it’s just me and my daughter here on a day-to-day basis. If I had strangers, or worse – family members, coming over? You bet!

  10. Wait, so where do you go if all the hotels are full and you’ve rented your home to a college family?

    We live in a town that has two colleges and, as well, not nearly enough hotels. Couple that with summer baseball camp season in Cooperstown, and hotels are sold out for an hour solid in every direction.

  11. Sue at The Golden Life says:

    Ducky & Shadow are both jealous of the attention we give each of them. And Ducky gets possessive of her toys, even if Shadow isn’t touching it. I really have to keep an eye on Ducky if one of her favorite toys are closer to Shadow’s body than her own….she starts staring at it and grumbling. If Shadow’s not playing with it, I pick the toy up & lay it near Ducky to avert an argument. Callie just lets them both take whatever toy they want from her, like a patient mother dog dealing with 2 of her puppies.
    As for me — I stopped worrying snouts/wanting what other people have a long time ago. The grass is always greener on the other side until you get there and discover it’s artificial turf. Yeah, it would be nice to have a slightly larger house in a neighborhood with sidewalks; BUT I have a sentimental attachment to this house just the way it is so I’m happy with it in general. I’m with BJ PUP — don’t be so hard on yourself.

  12. Cali gets jealous when we play with the cats and runs to grab one of her toys to get in on the fun!

    I have no desire to keep up with the “better job, bigger house, more expensive car” phenomenon – I want a comfortable home with room for friends and family, but I refuse to go crazy trying to impress people. I’m sure your home is lovely and charming, just like you! Hope you find the perfect people to rent your room!!

  13. Just remember that most of the people who are paying 40K a year tuition for the kiddo don’t want to (or can’t) spend tons of money on a weekend stay. If they are looking for a house to stay in, they probably like the idea of saving money not eating out. Your place would fit the bill and not cost an arm and a leg and doesn’t look much different from what they are used to.
    I know when we plan trips back to Idaho for visits, I always look for places like yours so we can save some money on eating and it enables us to invite the friends and relatives to “our place” instead of imposing on them.

    • Note- I didn’t know it would be a B&B situation. In that case I wouldn’t invite my friends over to impose on you! LOL! I would enjoy a canine host too.

  14. I do so love reading your blog, each and every day it gives me something new to think about!

  15. Your house is beautiful! It’s so interesting to me how someone who seems to have it all together, who knows what she wants, and has lovely things to show off, worries she is not good enough. It proves that no matter what we have, we still worry. I am constantly seeking the approval of others with bated breath and yet even when I receive it, I still feel unworthy.

    When I look at these pictures and read about all you have achieved, I am more than a little envious of what you have. And yet you still worry about being judged. I guess it’s something from which we are never free. No doubt even those who live in the perfect “Home and Garden Magazine” house worry just as much as we do, potentially more. From the sound of things, you have won your own approval and I think that is the largest part of the battle.

    Also, if I was going to stay for a weekend in Ithaca, I’d think your home sounds like a lovely vacation spot, where one can enjoy the local scenery and truly turn-off.

  16. What triggers jealousy in your dog? Toys, lap time with the parents, cookies… you name it. Do certain things cause you to judge your own life less favorably when compared to others? Oh you bet – I will admit that moving to this part of CA was a real shocker in terms of other people money, expensive cars, and extravagant lifestyles. I try not to dwell on those things because I am very well aware of the great things I already have in my life.

  17. “The crazy thing is I’m usually very happy with my house.” This is me…except when I invite family over for dinner. Then I don’t think it’s clean enough, roomy enough, fixed up enough, etc., etc.,

    I really shouldn’t care…but for some reason I worry a lot when others come by. Especially about the whole “clean thing” and I don’t really know why. It’s not like we’re slobs, it’s just that we don’t mind a little dog hair in our soup. :-)