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I Feel Like I Won the House Lottery
June 27, 2014 3:32 PM   Subscribe

How do I remain gracefully excited about the beautiful new home I'll be moving into? I've been gibbering insanely to anyone who asks, but I want to develop a solid library of tasteful adult answers that quietly acknowledge my good fortune but still channel my enthusiasm.

My partner's father recently decided that he might end up retiring in the city we live in. Rather than see us pay rent to a nameless landlord, thought he'd ease our way by purchasing a house that we could live in for the time being. As the process progressed, it became more obvious that this was going to be a house for my partner and I instead.

I am absolutely ecstatic over the entire situation, but there are some weird undertones to my joy. I've never had a lot of money, and neither has my family. I always assumed my first home would be an extreme fixer, but it's not. When a friend's parents recently bought a home for her to live in, a small jealousy would periodically seethe in my stomach when I thought about her nice place. I know that it came from my own fears about never having a place to call my own. I love her, and never said anything, but it was still there.

I'm worried that people might feel like that about me (or just see how poor and insecure I am) if I keep on blabbering about how amazing and beautiful everything is. My closest friends understand, but I'm the kind of person who will chat enthusiastically to anyone and everyone about even the smallest elements of my life, and this definitely ranks. I don't want to be a big gross bragging weirdo!

In other words, I think a lot of my excitement is fueled by my deep insecurity, and I'm terrified that it will inadvertently show through and weird people out or make me look pathetic. What do non-insecure people say when they're excited about the beautiful home they just lucked into?
posted by brisquette to Human Relations (24 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
!. Your house is amazing, you know it, we know it and the visitors will know it. Keep your mouth shut, let the house speak for itself and let the visitors do the talking. There will be lots of compliments. 2. Learn to take a compliment gracefully. Do not avoid it, or talk the situation down. It is in how you take the compliment that you can show your security.
posted by ouke at 3:39 PM on June 27


Keep your mouth shut. You got a "new address".
posted by hal_c_on at 3:42 PM on June 27 [1 favorite]


Mostly? When I bought my place a few years back, I just tried to make sure I wasn't talking about it too much. Not because I was worried about bragging, but because other people's houses and apartments are kind of boring to hear about.

Your best bet is to let your friends guide the conversation. If you're, say, renovating the kitchen or refinishing the floors before you move in? You might have friends who will want to hear about how that goes for you, or get specific recommendations, so that they're better prepared when it's their turn to make similar improvements to their own homes.

Otherwise, just treat it like any other thing which is really exciting and important to you but maybe less fascinating to everyone else. Unless you make a big deal about it, your friends will probably just think "Hey, sweet house!" and then not think much more of it.

On preview: Yes. Let your house speak for itself. Answer compliments with "Thank you!" or "We're so happy with how things turned out!" and leave it at that unless people ask for details.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 3:42 PM on June 27 [1 favorite]


Yes: I'm excited about our new house!
No: I'm excited about our expensive free new house!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:52 PM on June 27 [11 favorites]


I don't think you need to keep your mouth shut - this is worth being happy about - enjoy it. Just watch out that you aren't oversharing. If you were my friend just got a new house, I would be interested in hearing all about it. Please - tell me all about it. If you were the person in line next to me at the hardware store - a brief "I'm buying this doorknob for my new house - I'm so excited" would be pushing the limit.
posted by metahawk at 3:55 PM on June 27


Interesting! ThePinkSuperhero, I assumed it would be more graceful to acknowledge the financial assistance and that we couldn't have done it without somebody's help, is this not the case? Just leave money out of it altogether unless somebody asks?

Also, during small discussions about the new place, is it weird to immediately invite people to future barbecues if you've never invited them over in the past? Is it generally understood that it's due to the added space, not because you just want to show off?
posted by brisquette at 3:56 PM on June 27


"We got a new place!"
"Oh, it's so nice - what a great find"
"Thank you! We feel really lucky."
(change subject, or ask them for advice about some housey project - do they know a good plumber or electrician they like, that sort of thing)
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:56 PM on June 27 [1 favorite]


I think it's fine to say (to people you actually know, if they seem interested) "John's folks were able to help us out, which was so kind of them"
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:58 PM on June 27 [8 favorites]


Also, is it weird to immediately invite people to future barbecues if you've never invited them over before?

Only if you make it weird? Call it a "housewarming" and invite whoever you want to hang out with, I doubt anyone would raise an eyebrow.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 3:58 PM on June 27 [1 favorite]


It sounds like a lot to process. I think it would be perfectly appropriate to make a house book (kind of the way people make baby books) or start a blog (as anonymously as possible, given that it will likely be filled with photos of the house) that is a loving ode to the house as a means to channel some of that enthusiasm away from casual social contacts and help you process the understandably big feelings you are having.

Congratulations!
posted by Michele in California at 4:04 PM on June 27


Be yourself. People offer advice that might suit their personalities and circumstances, but that doesn't mean it suits you. People who know you would expect you to be chatty about it, and people who don't know you will learn that you are a chatty person. I don't think you should try to be somebody you are not. Part of enjoying your new house, for you, will be talking about it. So enjoy it. And if that bothers other people, too bad, they are welcome to walk way or plug their ears.
posted by Dansaman at 4:06 PM on June 27


Is it generally understood that it's due to the added space, not because you just want to show off?

It's understood that a first visit to someone's new house is partly about showing it off (or sharing something they are excited about, if you want to be nicer) and that is ok, but people still pretend it's about the extra space.

I assumed it would be more graceful to acknowledge the financial assistance and that we couldn't have done it without somebody's help, is this not the case? Just leave money out of it altogether unless somebody asks?

It's the difference between telling someone about the new job you are excited about, and telling them about your new job that pays double what they earn because you are dating the boss's daughter. One is cool and mutually exciting, and the other will make people say "fuck you" in their head while smiling and being nice about it. Don't rub your good fortune in people's noses unless you are super close and talk about intimate money things all the time, in which case it is obviously more than ok.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:23 PM on June 27 [4 favorites]


Would it help to remember that many people, instead of being jealous of you, are feeling sort of bad for you (or at least are thinking "Glad that's not me!") because you now have to spend thousands of dollars on busted furnaces and spend your weekends mowing the lawn and can never just up and move if you feel like it?

Or that, rather than seething with jealousy, they simply find excessive homeownership talk boring?

You're assuming that they'll be jealous or take your enthusiasm as bragging, and you want to minimize that, but perhaps - since maybe you don't feel you had much to brag about before - it's easier to get your head around not wanting to bore people or make them pity you.

That said, if you're happy I'm sure your friends will be happy for you. I'm always glad to hear about friends' houses or dogs or other things that make them happy but I'd want no part of myself.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 4:31 PM on June 27 [1 favorite]


I assumed it would be more graceful to acknowledge the financial assistance and that we couldn't have done it without somebody's help, is this not the case? Just leave money out of it altogether unless somebody asks?

Absolutely leave money out of it even if someone asks, if you so choose. Or just say you got some help from some relatives. But definitely don't start bringing up your benefactors in conversation unprompted and definitely not in assorted company (i.e. friends not close enough to openly and honestly discuss finances with.) People will either not ask and not care or be resentful because anything short of "I bought it with my blood, sweat and tears" is unacceptable for the sort of persom that demands an answer to a such a seriously inappropriate question as "how can you afford this?"

Is it generally understood that it's due to the added space, not because you just want to show off?

People will think what they think; you can't really guide an opinion of an invitation. Decent folk will think you are inviting them over because you want to hang out with them and be hospitable and if that is a new thing all that means is that now circumstances are such that you can and that's that. And like the people above said: a housewarming is a socially-acceptable moment to show the place off as much as you like. People come to a housewarming because they want to be happy for you and your new and improved living situation. Just concentrate on the space and not how you came into it.
posted by griphus at 4:41 PM on June 27


I assumed it would be more graceful to acknowledge the financial assistance and that we couldn't have done it without somebody's help, is this not the case?

Generally speaking one should not mention money in non-familial situations, no.
posted by Justinian at 4:43 PM on June 27 [3 favorites]


"John's folks were able to help us out, which was so kind of them"

This is exactly the tack I would take. Actually, when I bought my first house my dad was able to help me out (in a complicated sort of mercenary arrangement that was not worth getting in to) and if people pried I'd bore them with details (if we were close) but otherwise just say "Yes, I had some help from my folks" because it seemed weird for me to have purchased a house with the scrubby job I had at the time and I knew it looked weird.

In the Northeast US where I am from people are a little more circumspect about money but thanks to the melting pot of people from all over the place, the people you are talking to may not be. So it's good to have a variety of responses that are appropriate to the situation. In short, this is good fortune, it's made you very happy, you'd like to share that with people. Those are all good places to start. The fact that it's a nicer place than you could afford, or that it was purchased for you or that you never really felt like this would be your path are sort of second tier answers for people who you're close with or who you'd have that level of conversation with. Topics like how much things specifically cost or about your own insecurity about the house or about what a gibbering happy foll it makes you into are probably family and close friends only.

Recently I inherited (half of) a house that is clearly outside of my personal ability to pay for. And I really like it but I really feel weird in it because it's fancy and I am not. So there's some denial on my part "This is nicer than me" but at some level, this is me now. I own (half) this house and I need to own that. Over time, you'll get more used to being a homeowner of that specific house and you'll get a sense of who you want to talk to about how much. I think you can be excited about your home life without having to get into details about specifics, just don't be a weird coy denier about the whole thing. I have a lot of friends with varying levels of money fortune and misfortune and the only people I have issue with are the people who act like they totally understand my situation when they don't really, or people who are just judgey about how people live their financial lives.

You have received a gift and that is wonderful and I am glad you are happy. That joy and the space you have is your gift that you can share with other people. You and this house IS you now. Over time it will feel more normal than it does now.
posted by jessamyn at 4:45 PM on June 27 [4 favorites]


I assumed it would be more graceful to acknowledge the financial assistance and that we couldn't have done it without somebody's help, is this not the case

I don't see the need. Not only is it nobody's business, but it's pretty common to have had help from family, given what house prices and salaries are now.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:04 PM on June 27 [1 favorite]


How your house is paid for is nobody's business but yours. It would be rude for someone to ask, and annoyingly braggy for you to volunteer.

The one exception would be if you happened upon some government program or another that you think could also help people in your circles, if only they knew about it -- then it's reasonable to evangelize a little.

No one's lives will be improved by knowing that you guys had help from the bank of FIL. Enjoy your new home (congrats!), invite people over, pay this great gift back/forward when you can.
posted by sparklemotion at 8:35 PM on June 27


With some types of news, you feel like you need to tell EVERYONE, and that's partly fueled by most people you tell not giving you the sort of reaction you want. Instead it's a lot more fulfilling if you can find exactly the one right person to talk to about it and to talk with them an excessive amount. When we bought our first house, friends of ours had bought theirs a few months earlier, and it turned out they were the perfect people to have long ridiculous conversations about how happy we were and to help us with overthinking all the little design decisions, because they were also looking for someone to have those conversations with. In fact, because they are in similar financial circumstances to us, and have no boundaries about talking about money, they were also perfect for discussing the minutiae of mortgages, talking about how excited we were as more of it got paid off, and so on. In fact, they instigated at least as many of those sorts of conversations as we did.

No one else would have wanted to hear that bullshit, and it would have been pretty gauche of us to initiate those sorts of conversations with random friends who couldn't afford their own homes yet, or who weren't interested in home ownership.

So find the one person who does actually care and save your excitement for talking to them.

This goes for pretty much any topic, by the way. Say you got some terrible personal news, and you want to tell everyone, but most people aren't giving you the sort of sympathy you need? Think carefully about everyone you know until you think of the one person who would really empathise and know what you are going through, and who is capable of expressing that. Once you've talked to them, you will probably be free of the need to tell the whole world.
posted by lollusc at 9:14 PM on June 27 [4 favorites]


I'd tell people you feel like you won the house lottery. That's how you feel. Let people know. Saying otherwise is just not being honest. Given the question you're asking, I highly doubt you're rubbing it in anyone's face.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:36 PM on June 27


In other words, I think a lot of my excitement is fueled by my deep insecurity, and I'm terrified that it will inadvertently show through and weird people out or make me look pathetic. What do non-insecure people say when they're excited about the beautiful home they just lucked into?

Put another way, what would be so wrong with looking pathetic? Assuming the worst case scenario, have you ever really thought a friend was being pathetic by being happy about a fortunate break? I think that's human. Allow yourself that.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:38 PM on June 27


A few years ago I had a series of good fortune in business that led to my getting both a windfall of cash and a salary that was about three times what I'd ever been earning before. This was awesome, but it also *totally messed with my head*. I had a load of feelings I hadn't anticipated feeling in that situation: a bit of survivor guilt about friends who were doing much less well, doubt about whether I "deserved" this turn of events, surprise and even a little resentment about discovering how much nicer things are for people with a lot more money ("you mean this special back room of the department store has been here this whole time, but you were never interested in showing it to me before? HM!"), uncertainty about how to schedule philanthropy and how I wanted to apportion donations that I'd never been able to afford to make before, and loads of other stuff like that.

It was really really really hard not to talk about this all the time with people, even though I could tell that I shouldn't. What helped the most was identifying a couple of friends who had also undergone a significant change in circumstances, kind of feeling out the conversation with them, and finding that I *could* have a frank conversation with those friends without being inappropriate.

But I totally sympathize with the needing to talk about it to someone.
posted by shattersock at 2:23 AM on June 28 [1 favorite]


Re money: Years ago in a different forum, I wryly made the humorous observation that people seemed more willing to publicly discuss their sex lives than their financial lives. Generally speaking, yeah, gloss over those details. Money is so complicated. It's impossible to really compare anyone's life very directly anyway.

I am super bad about being willing to discuss all kinds of things and, seriously, people are more weirded out by me giving financial details than sexual ones. Not kidding.
posted by Michele in California at 11:18 AM on June 28


Thanks, everyone! My partner's family has a much more casual relationship with money, so they've been pretty forthcoming about the financial details of the situation in casual conversation, but that doesn't sound like the right way for me to approach it.

Jessamyn probably hit the nail on the head with:
"... otherwise just say "Yes, I had some help from my folks" because it seemed weird for me to have purchased a house with the scrubby job I had at the time and I knew it looked weird."

That's probably the closest parallel to my situation, and it makes the most sense in regards to the money-shaped elephant in the room. Michele in California also touched a specific nerve in her suggestion to focus some of my house obsession into a project, where I can spend time appreciating the details via creative outlets; I think that would actually work really well for me.
posted by brisquette at 2:22 PM on June 30 [1 favorite]


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