When Life Gives You Lemons

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Renting is awesome.

No, I actually mean it. Stove broken? Call the landlord. Roof leaking? Call the landlord. Annoying neighbors move in next door? Give your notice and leave.

No strings. No unexpected costs. No hassles.

That is, until you get a phone call from your landlord that the four walls that you call home is for sale, and an hour later, a real estate agent arrives on your doorstep, armed with a fish-eye camera and that unparalleled, slimy imitation of cheerfulness that only salesmen have, as if they are enjoying turning your life on its head. Then the next day, you find out that the person who wants to buy your home wants to increase your rent by around 20% to bleed every dollar possible out of you as the custodian of their investment to pay the ridiculous mortgage they have taken on to be in that position.

Now, that isn’t so much fun, but it did happen to me recently.

And much like the earthquake last year, it came like a lightning bolt out of the blue. Everything was going smoothly and then BAM! Think fast!

Life does that sometimes, and these situations are a chance to learn. That’s how I see them anyway.

Here are ten things I learned from the latest of life’s curve-balls

1. If you want a guarantee, buy a toaster

Much like the myth of job security, there’s no such thing as prolonged stability in any area of your life. The universe is a place of chaos – supernovas, asteroids and black holes. It has been that way for billions of years. If you think that you can insulate yourself from that chaos, you’re being naïve.

2. Plan B is your worst enemy

Do you know how quickly you can find a new house, pack all of your belongings, clean your old house and your new one, all the while holding down a full-time job, hosting open homes and jousting with a property manager who is hellbent on making your final weeks as challenging as possible?

4 weeks, apparently. I didn’t even think that was possible at all, but lo and behold, it happened. Why? Because it had to. There was no plan B.

3. It’s not about you

When I got the call from our landlord, my first feeling was betrayal. How could he do this? We have been good tenants for years, always looked after the house. Hell, we even invited him around to our house (yes, technically his house) because he was a nice guy! And now he is putting our home up for sale and our rent is going up?!

But once lizard brain had calmed down from its territorial war cry (after about 4 weeks), there was an obvious realization – it wasn’t anything to do with us. He just wanted to sell his property. Maybe he needed the money to pay off his son’s gambling debt or cover surgery or deal with some other lightning bolt that life had struck him with. You never know another person’s situation, so try not to jump to conclusions or think the worst of people.

4. See the best in people

…but keep a war chest of written records, just in case someone tries to claim your security deposit for something you didn’t do.

Enough said on that.

5. Most people don’t care about your inconvenience

As above, the majority of people will look after their own interests first and yours second (or not at all). Not because they are nasty – remember, it isn’t about you, but in any transactional relationship, whether with a boss or a landlord, be prepared for them to prioritize their own interests ahead of yours.

6. But a few will go the extra mile

From friends, family and even contractors, not only did they get my partner and me through a tough time, it proved to be a great social networking exercise. I now know the best carpet cleaning and moving companies in my city if you ever need them, and I will certainly hire them again!

7. The stars can align just when you need them to

We had been looking for a new home on-and-off for around two years. Nothing really great was listed, and so we never moved. But within 3 days of the first phone call from our landlord, a new rental was listed. It was available right when our own lease would finish, it was in a nice area, within our budget, and nicer than anything we had seen in the previous two years.

I am writing this post from it now.

When one door closes, another one opens. You just need to be alert to see it.

8. Life goes on

If I have one regret about how I responded to this situation, it is that I allowed the stress of it all to consume me. Not only did I not write a single post for you, I pretty much put everything else in my life on hold until the disaster was averted.

But it didn’t need to be like that. Things didn’t work out as well as they did because I stressed about them to a suitable level. Surrender, and trust that things will work out.

9. Not all lemons are bad

It was hard to see the positives when this cataclysm first kicked off. In the words of Meat Loaf, life was a lemon and I wanted my money back.

But you know what? We actually did get lemons. Almost like some elaborate cosmic joke where my frustrations over the previous month were the punchline, our new house has a bunch of established fruit and vegetables growing in the garden – including a lemon tree!

It also has a lot of other amazing things that our old house didn’t have – it is a much larger house, and if it wasn’t for everything apparently falling apart, I wouldn’t have taken the initiative to move here.

Looking back, that phone call was the best thing that has happened to me all year.

10. Forgive the assholes

The real estate agent who turned up without notice and started photographing your sanctuary for the whole world to see, the property manager who wanted to dubiously withhold your deposit, that neighbor who decided to party until 3am the night before your moving day, the previous tenants who seemed to be more averse to cleaning than to their own filth.

Yes, the list may be long.

But forgive them and move on. They are still living in their shitty paradigm. But you? Life has chosen you through this experience to grow and move beyond your own limitations.

So, leave them behind, and don’t even waste the energy resenting them. That will just drain you and stunt your own growth.

Embrace your new opportunity and flourish.

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