Seeing magazines, websites, Instagrams and blog posts that show the most beautiful, perfectly manicured spaces can be so anxiety producing for those who are unable to afford $80 pillows, $450 dining room table benches, or $150 gold lacquer trays. Seeing walls covered in layers of artwork, with picture frames that probably cost more than my IKEA couch, is a constant reminder that I don't have enough, and that this lifestyle is unattainable.
This is essentially what capitalism does best. It makes us believe we need completion and perfection, and that the only way to attain those things is to spend, spend, spend on the newest products, gadgets and trends. But I have learned over time that instead of spending on things with which to fill my empty walls and surfaces, I need to slow down and wait for the right thing to come to me. I need to accept and appreciate the fact that I'm young, and I'm not going to be able to afford all the artwork I want, or all of the furniture, or all of baskets and lacquer trays that West Elm reminds me I NEED to have.
That empty space means I have a full life ahead of me to collect or create things I love. It means I have so much to look forward to as I continue to fill and complete it. It means that I'm working on accepting incompleteness, and letting go of the gripping anxiety that often controls me when I have to leave something partly undone. Completeness is not something I really even think I can attain, because life and space both change so frequently that nothing will ever be finite or finished.
I think a lot of people in their twenties feel this way. Most of us rent apartments, and very few of us stay in our places for more than two years at a time. The temporary nature of our spaces keeps us from ever really being able to settle in and feel a sense of permanence, which in turn keeps us from investing in our spaces. I don't paint my walls because I know I'll have to paint over them a year later and it's not worth the hassle. I don't invest in large or expensive furniture, because it might not fit in my next place. And in some sense, this keeps me from being able to build my perfect space. But in another sense, this keeps me more open to the idea of adventure and change. I put a lot of effort into my space, but not so much that I'm afraid of exploring a different space in the future. If I choose to think of this as liberating instead of limiting, I am much more able to contend with incompleteness and view it instead as an opportunity.
Truthfully, the empty space on my walls still causes that pit in my stomach sometimes. But as I continue to remind myself that it's okay- that I'm young and my home doesn't have to be perfect or complete- I move closer to a place of calming acceptance. I love the things I have. I keep repeating that to myself, because it is important for us to praise our own contentment.
I love the things I have. I love the things I have. I am trying. I love the things I have.