What Happens When Your Dream Doesn't Come True

A few months ago, we found our dream house. 

As we drove up the road to the house, I got the “this is it” feeling in my gut. Just being in the neighborhood felt like home. It was a little cabin in the woods and it was exactly what I’d wanted. The kind of house that you don’t need to take a vacation from because you'd always feel like you were on a mountain retreat. We walked around the woods and looked around the house imagining our lives there: dinner on the back patio, morning coffee on the front porch, sleepovers that our boyo would have there. I literally leapt around the driveway before we pulled away, and we went home to tell our realtor that we had found it. We were ready to put in an offer. 

We didn’t get the house.

By the time we got home, the listing of the house had been changed to “pending.” The owners had already accepted an offer from another buyer. We had just missed it. Someone else was going to buy what felt like our house. 

Now, it’s just a house…but I had gotten very attached to the dream of us living there. I had been admiring it online for almost three months, but since we lived out of state, we couldn’t visit it sooner. For three months, I had that cabin in the back of my mind when I went on Pinterest, thought of my Christmas list, or the future of my family. So I didn't just lose a thing/object/house. I lost the vision of my future. Without a hint of sarcasm I told my mom, “I’ll never love again."

But we still had a have a place to live, so after some mourning on my part, we put an offer on another house. We didn’t get it. We put an offer on another house. We didn’t get it. We put an offer on another house. This fourth one, we got. 

It was not a dream house. It was a nice house that would work for our family or we wouldn’t have put in an offer, but I wasn’t that excited about. The exterior of the house didn’t feel “me” and it didn’t have that gut “this is it” feeling of the cabin. But it did meet our criteria of what was most important to us: good schools, not too far from family, woods, and office space for my husband and me. 

When people asked me if I was excited about the new house I’d say things like, “Sorta. I’m sure it will be fine.” Which is not what I thought the experience of buying a house would be like. I expected fireworks and excitement, which didn’t come for me until we actually moved in. 

As of today, we’ve lived in this house for two weeks. And you know what? I love it. 

It’s still not my dream house, but it has all the elements of my dream. And that’s really what we needed. It just didn’t come in the package I thought it would. 

The day after we moved in it hit me that I had just experienced exactly what I teach about careers: that it’s not about the dream. It’s not about the title, the package it comes in, or what you thought it would look like. It’s about the substance of the thing. The elements that compose it. And the substance of this house? The woods, the schools, the space, the life it will allow us to live…it’s all there, and that’s what matters. 

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m due for a walk in the woods.