Last Wednesday started like any other Wednesday. I woke up early to feed the cat and make some tea. Then, Mr. TA got up. And he said some of the most dreaded words a tiny house enthusiast can hear.
I read a tiny house article last night – you should read it! I’ll send it to you.
These words have never been uttered and then followed with a lovely piece of writing sharing the positives of living in a tiny house. When Mr. TA says “you should read this”, he means, “this is going to make you angry”. And, he’s never been wrong.
You see, since the tiny house movement became popular enough to spawn multiple HGTV shows, there have been tons of articles written blasting the lifestyle because the authors don’t see how they, themselves could live within the confines of a tiny house. As if someone was forcing them to do so.
At this point, I’ve read enough of these articles for a lifetime. So, I normally avoid them and have become pretty immune to their criticism. This hasn’t been terribly difficult because, generally speaking, these kinds of articles are written by people who don’t want a tiny house, have never seen one or been inside one in real life, or have ever actually spoken to a real-life tiny house dweller.
It would be like me, blasting people who choose to live in McMansions. It’s not something I want for myself, I’ve never been inside one and I’ve never spoken to anyone who does. So, my judgment of their lifestyle wouldn’t (and shouldn’t) hold much weight.
And yet, I’ve still read many infuriating articles lambasting my future lifestyle choice.
But, why exactly do I find them infuriating? It shouldn’t bother me that other people don’t see the value in the way I want to live my life. But, it really does.
Maybe this is how non-minimalists feel about the minimalist movement? Like it’s a direct judgment on their consumption choices? When, in fact, it’s just a reaction to our own internal environments.
I’ve thought about it and here are some of the reasons I find tiny house naysayers infuriating.
- People believe traditional housing options are the only ‘right’ option.
- My choice doesn’t affect other people’s ability to live their own lives the way they want.
- People assume going tiny is the ‘easy’ option when the opposite is true.
- I’m tired of the assumption that people know how to live my life better than I do.
People believe traditional housing options are the only ‘right’ choice.
I’m a highly logical person. If I decide a course of action makes sense for me, there is very little anyone can do to change my mind.
So, when faced with the choice of a multi-hundred thousand dollar mortgage that I’d be paying off for the rest of my life for a ‘normal’ house, or a tiny house that I could pay off in less than 10 years – it wasn’t even a choice. Why would I not want the tiny house option?
And yes, I know home ownership in the traditional sense of the word is not my only housing option. Renting is also an option. However, the costs associated with renting long-term and paying off a mortgage are the same financial commitment in my mind. And that’s something I just can’t get on board with. Housing is not negotiable. It’s one of the very few basic things we literally need to survive.
However, to a lot of people owning a house (with the accompanying mortgage), is the only option for mature ‘adults’. Whatever the heck that means. And, I’m just not buying into the idea that to be a real ‘grown-up’ means potentially sacrificing my financial stability by borrowing hundreds of thousands of dollars. I’m just not.
My choice doesn’t affect other people’s ability to live their lives the way they want. So why do they care?
I cannot understand why someone would spend their precious time and brain cells writing a critique of something they don’t like or want anything to do with. It really doesn’t make sense to me. Time is the only resource we don’t get more of. Why would someone spend theirs doing anything they didn’t find valuable?
Maybe it’s a human impulse to criticize things we don’t understand. The bottom line is that my desire to live in a tiny house does not impact anyone else’s ability to live their lives they way they want. So why do they care how I live mine?
My life = my choice. I think this frustrates me because, their criticism, in some small, unconscious way, makes me question my own choices and decisions. And, that’s not a terribly fun thing to have to admit to myself – that other’s people’s opinions still have an impact on how I feel about my own life.
People assume going tiny is the ‘easy’ option when the opposite is true.
It tends to be a subtle undertone to tiny house criticisms, but it’s often assumed that people go tiny because they can not afford the life they really want. The next assumption is that if tiny housers had more money, less debt, a higher paying job, a second job (etc), that they wouldn’t choose to live tiny. It’s as if going tiny is a cop-out or easier option than changing their lives to afford the ‘norm’. However, for one very important reason, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
While the tiny house tide is shifting in the United States, tiny houses are still very much illegal in most of Canada (where I live) due to antiquated square footage restrictions/requirements. Or, at a bare minimum, there is no legislation covering tiny houses specifically, which leaves tiny house dwellers in a legal gray area.
I volunteer with Tiny Home Alliance Canada, an organization dedicated to incorporating tiny house clauses into the Canadian Building Code. We’ve made some big strides this year, but there’s still a long way to go.
Like any countercultural movement, doing what’s different is never easy. There are almost always growing pains (or shrinking pains in this case).
I’m tired of the assumption that people know how to live my life better than I do.
When I was growing up, a lot of people around me had a lot of ideas about how they thought my life should go. Everyone thought I should become an elementary school teacher. My family was well-meaning and I love them, but I would have made an absolutely terrible teacher. I’m impatient, not good with kids and have a nasty habit of cursing when I shouldn’t.
More importantly though, being constantly told by the adults in my life how my life was going to turn out did not sit well with me. It was like I had no choice. Or, at the very least, that my family didn’t trust my judgment. To my 16-year-old self, it was suffocating to not have the trust of those closest to me.
Because of this, I now have a bit of a rebellious streak. Anytime someone says I ‘should’ do something, I instinctively want to do the opposite. Maybe that’s why I found the tiny house/minimalist movement appealing in the first place. It goes against the grain of how an ‘adult’ is ‘supposed’ to live their life.
All of this is to say when I read an article critiquing tiny houses, it reeks of people trying to convince me that what I want in my life isn’t good enough. And, that’s on me. It’s an embedded pattern that I need to work on. Because what I want for my life matters to me. And that’s what I need to remember.
Are you working towards a goal that is counter to the mainstream(i.e. childfree, early retirement, tiny house/alternative living etc)? How do you deal with people who criticize your choices? Do you find it easy to brush it off?
If you missed last week’s episode of Tiny Bites, all about whether or not we can have meaningful interactions with social media, you can listen to it here. All past episodes of Tiny Bites have been re-embedded into the blog, so they will play no matter what device your using. Aka, now you have an excuse to listen anywhere!
Image Credit: Tiny Ambitions