My personal style: Never having enough bookshelves.

I am intimidated by people who have a strong sense of personal style, whether it’s their house or their clothes or . . . what else can you have a sense of style about? Your car? My car’s style is “dirty.” I am clearly uninformed about style. My personal style ranges from preppy button-downs to rebellious Doc Martens, depending on the day. (Are Doc Martens still rebellious, or are my flannel shirts and I still stuck in 1994?) When it comes to our house, Mike has a stronger vision for who we are, but that mostly comes from the fact that he worked for a while for an interior designer. Other than that, I think the message our house sends is: “Hand-Me-Down.” One of my dreams is to someday actually buy a couch of our own, rather than having the one that Mike’s sister decided to get rid of. And also, I dream of recovering the infamous Big Chair (which might be happening very soon!). I love the Big Chair, not least because it cost $100 at the Salvation Army (a steal!), but . . . even though its plaid is part of its charm, I think it would be nice if it was a little less . . . plaid.

As we have spent some time organizing and cleaning out over the past few months, I have been getting rid of gifts/hand-me-downs that we’ve kept around for a long time. This makes me feel good, but then I read blogs (I should know better than to do this) by people who have very specific ideas about what they want to put on their walls and in their houses. How does one know these things? Is this because I work outside the home? Would I be better at this if I was at home a little bit more? (Answer: No. You will never be good at it. You are just not wired that way. Thanks for playing, though.)

My guess is that I don’t know how to do these things in part because I don’t like shopping. I am not tempted to buy things because they are cute. I go in with a list, I get the things on my list, and I get out. I don’t even see the cute things, because they are not on my list. As I have mentioned, I don’t like yard sales. I tried, people. I have been to yard sales. I don’t need my own junk, though, so I certainly don’t need someone else’s. If I had to hazard a guess about my own preferences, I think that I can say that I would rather save up my money and get something nice that I have picked out than get something at a yard sale that I have to do something to. Also, I am big on causes. For furniture, this has meant that we saved to buy American made furniture for our bedroom. Which unfortunately costs more than Rooms to Go. Meanwhile, since I do not like to spend money on myself, I would rather just go without.

As we have been house hunting, this whole style thing has caused me great consternation. I want a house that fits us, but I am not sure exactly who we are. I see things like Dooce’s Daily Style and I wonder how anyone has the time to have a daily style. I would run out of cute things about my house after a month or so. And start posting pictures of books. “This book is also awesome! You should totally read it. That is my style recommendation for the day. It will make your brain very stylish.” I don’t do crafts. And I don’t like to spend money. So mostly I go without, and our home continues to be a barren home for hand-me-downs. At least we have a lot of books.

I think that I am still learning who I am and how I define myself. This is one of those areas where I feel very behind the curve. Thinking about my house and my style makes me feel the same way I did when I moved into my dorm room and everyone else had all these awesome gadgety dorm room things and I hadn’t even remembered to bring a rug. I could see very clearly that there was a whole world I did not understand. The question, as always, is whether I let that feeling of inferiority define me, whether I just go along with what everyone else likes, or whether I take the time to decide who I am and what I want. And whether I will have the confidence to believe that who I am and what I want are okay, even if they don’t seem to measure up to other people’s standards.

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