Selling a house is like taking a test

On the scale from Zack Morris cool to Steve Urkel nerdy, I would rank myself somewhere in the Liz Lemon range (although I briefly considered Topenga Lawrence because we both had really, really bad hair in our early adolescence).

Why Liz Lemon? Liz Lemon is a rule follower, to the point that she gets personally offended when other people don’t follow the rules (at a hot dog cart, when people invented their own line to cut in front, she bought all the hot dogs so the cheaters couldn’t have any). Liz Lemon somehow seems to function like a normal adult despite her below par social abilities and practical skills. Liz Lemon loves food and has unusually weak arms. And Liz Lemon is triumphantly nerdy, making Star Wars references (I’m not sure my husband has even heard of the Death Star, but I still use excuses like, “But I was going into Tosche Station to pick up some power converters!”)

Liz Lemon

But it’s an episode in which Liz’s friend turns to her for help yet again that really gets me. “Damn it! Why do I keep helping you? I’ll just do anything for approval. I would have been a Nazi,” she says.

I would bet that, like me, Liz Lemon enjoyed the school aspect of school (perhaps less so the social aspect). She probably volunteered to answer every question, stayed in at recess to help teacher with mundane tasks (and to avoid socializing with peers), and looked forward to writing tests. I am guilty of all of the above, too.

The reason? I constantly sought approval from authority figures.

As we put our house up for sale, I was reminded of my need for approval. It was overwhelming knowing that there would be dozens of people – realtors and, hopefully, potential buyers – coming through our house and judging the structure, the layout, the décor, the colour choices, the cleanliness, and probably the wolf blankets scattered throughout most of all. That’s a lot of items to meet a lot of other people’s approval. It felt like a final exam.

Of course, we scrubbed and organized and de-cluttered and arranged and did everything we could to make the house look good, but that was still by our standards. What would other people think?

When I left the house on Monday, the day it was going up for sale, I actually gave it a quick pat, like I might to a dog, and wished it luck. I hoped it would do us well. I hoped it wouldn’t feel bad about the comments people were going to make about its flaws. I hoped visitors would appreciate the paint colour choices. I hoped everyone would notice the hard work my husband has put into renovating the basement. I hoped that people wouldn’t go too far into the backyard and find the months’-worth of poop that I have yet to remove.

I hoped beyond all hope that it would meet people’s approval.

By the time I got home from work on Monday (to be fair, it was an extra long day), a couple dozen realtors had been through the house as well as a half-dozen potential buyers. And we had four offers. We accepted the highest one because we’re greedy, and the conditions were all officially met yesterday. We sold our house.

And I feel satisfied – not because it’s one more thing taken care of, not because our hard work paid off (literally), but because the house met someone’s approval. I’d say we got an A+.

Liz Lemon again


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