The Real Life of A Writer

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This is my real couch.

The actual one. The one sitting in my living room (and by living room, I mean the small “not-the-kitchen, not-the-bedroom, not-the-bathroom” room where my husband and I eat food, read, play games and generally hang out). It hasn’t been photoshopped, or even instagrammed.

This is it, folks. The real deal.

You might be wondering why on earth I’m showing you a picture of my couch. Here’s why.

Sometimes it seems like we’re all trying to prove a point on social media, or with our blogs, that our life is super awesome. We take pictures of all the awesome things we see, the awesome things we own, and the awesome things we’re doing, and then we share them with each other.

To be fair — life is full of awesome things. I’m glad we take pictures of them.

I’m glad we see beauty and share it.

But sometimes I wonder if I’m the only one who is living this life. This not-so-glamorous, worn around the edges, 50 bucks at a thrift store kind of life. This is the real life of a writer, or a start-up business owner, or a person chasing a dream God has put in his or her heart.

Isn’t it?

The other day a friend said to me, “I can’t wait to come see your new place!”

And I’m sad to admit the first thought through my head was, “Oh, please wait until we move into someplace bigger, or nicer, or at least with enough furniture to seat more than two people…”

But that was the actual thought that went through my head.

And it made me realize how, even after years of “Packing Light” I’m still expecting “stuff” to do something it was never intended to do. I’m waiting for a nicer couch, or a bigger kitchen, or two cars (so I don’t have to share with my husband) to feel like I’ve really made it.

And I know what happens when I wait on stuff.

I wait my whole life for something that will never happen.

Not that I will always own this couch, but that someday I’ll get a nicer one, and it won’t give me what I thought it would.

I’m not waiting around anymore.

I’ll be honest. I’m not confused about why we don’t post stuff like this on Twitter, Facebook, or our blogs. I’m a little embarrassed to let you see the space (non-instagram version) where I’m living right now. It’s humbling. But it’s also real.

Maybe someday I’ll have a beautiful sectional with soft, luxurious fabric where I can lounge and watch movies on a Saturday, or where we can invite friends to sit and share a cup of tea and conversation.

Or maybe I won’t.

Either way, I’m not waiting around for a couch to start enjoying my life.

This is what it looks like to give up everything.

At least this is what it looks like for us.

What does it look like for you? To Reply Click HERE.

32 comments on “The Real Life of A Writer

  1. Yeah, we all want our lives to be filtered through Instagram before we let anyone in, so they think everything is beautiful. (Incidentally, Instagram would make even your couch look more comfy!) But filtering our lives through a photo stream isn’t really being “authentic,” as we all profess to be, is it? 🙂

  2. This is so true. I don’t use instagram, rarely log on to twitter and hardly ever upload a picture onto facebook and I still get this. Sometimes I catch myself moaning that we haven’t taken enough pictures so that when we look back we’ll not be able to remember. But then when the camera comes out you can miss so much about an experience. If I was thinking about doctoring it as well, I’d go mad!God’s blessings aren’t for us to judge they’re for us to enjoy.
    P.S your couch looks very comfy for reading and surely that’s all that counts.

  3. Oh, I know this Ally! I don’t have a couch–I have a love-seat. I had a friend coming to stay with me a few months ago. That sounded great and exciting until the night before she arrived as I wandered around my apartment wondering where we could fit the air mattress. I thought about calling her and asking if she could stay with someone else because I hadn’t lived in a place this small since… we lived together in our first dorm room. We made it work (and she didn’t sleep in the kitchen) but it was uncomfortable to me for her to see my tiny, weirdly-crafted place. These are the moments that sometimes get over-dramatized and posted on facebook or never mentioned at all. These are real life.

    • Katie — yes, Darrell and I have talked about how the hardest part about living with limited resources right now is we feel like we don’t have the ability to be hospitable to people. But then we discussed how we actually CAN be hospitable, it just isn’t a luxury hotel kind of hospitable.
      It reminds me of Les Mis, when the man who invites Jean Valjean into his home says: We don’t have much, but what we have, we’re willing to share.

      Yes, this is real life. And when we invite others into our real life, it foster real friendship. Thanks for being friends with us 🙂

  4. I really appreciated this today. As I write and blog I frequently become discouraged thinking that if I were doing it “right” my life would be more glamorous…and lucrative.
    Thanks.

    • Sean — what a lie we’ve all bought into! One that’s been pitched to us by consumerism and greed. Thank goodness life is not really like that. Sometimes you can be in exactly the “right” place and still not have a luxury couch, car, etc.
      Thanks for sharing. Glad you liked the post.

    • Sundi Jo — it’s the weirdest thing, isn’t it? I was telling someone the other day that if you saw a picture of my condo from Florida (2 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 21st floor, overlooking the ocean) and my apartment now… you would wonder why I made the trade. But I am so much happier now than I was. Stuff isn’t bad, but stuff isn’t the answer. Sometimes less is more.

  5. Hi Allison!I moved last December (with my mom). We have one dinning table (which fortunately is long!), and 4 chairs. That’s it; no couch, and no other chairs. Just like your couch space, there is where we eat, read, talk, where my mother sews, where the pc is located, …
    We too have decided that we definitely have to start enjoying life right now, and don’t wait till that nice couch has arrived or for when all the nice curtains are ready. And bit by bit, as God provide, we’re going to do/buy/repair what is needed. I’m not a “writer or a start-up business owner, but this is how life is now for me.

    • Rina — thank you for sharing! There’s something very simple and romantic about it, isn’t there? I wonder if someday we’ll look back and be jealous for this time, even when we have two cars or a nice couch.

  6. I live with my parents. Even as I typed this comment, I had to fight the urge to add a “currently” or “for financial reasons.” Though both of those things are true, I tend to use them as little ways of trying to justify why I’m there, because the real deal, of trying to be a grown up while living with my parents, isn’t very glamorous. I’m learning to not treat this phase of life as a holding pattern before “real life” begins, but it’s certainly a process.

    • Oh my goodness, I know how you feel. That was my story for a few seasons in my life. One thing that encouraged me was traveling in South America for several months where I realized the “move out on your own” phenomenon is a luxury VERY few families afford. It just makes more financial sense, and is a better use of resources, to share space.
      There’s a time to move out, for sure, but there’s no shame in living with your parents for a season. Count your blessings your parents are able and willing to have you.

    • Brianna,I live with my mom. And I too can add because of “financial reasons” or “health issues”. I really want to help out more financially, but I can’t for now. So I’m trusting the Lord for His provision!
      And yes, it’s a process to: “learning to not treat this phase of life as a holding pattern before “real life” begins”.
      God Bless you

  7. Wow, I was thinking about this very same thing the other day. You see, my current living situation (where I am staying until I move) is a HUGE lifestyle upgrade. Typically, I have lived a minimalist life out of necessity, owning all second-hand furniture, not having a TV, etc. I am blessed right now to have a living situation that is not only comfortable, but rent-free.
    I say this not to rub it in anyone’s face (this arrangement is for a couple of months, tops), but to tell people that, while it’s nice, it isn’t everything. Ultimately, I love the space because of who I share it with, not what we have in it. At times I have been tempted to just stay living there, stay in this city and do what I’ve been doing. There are times when I’ve wondered if I can give up the nice apartment and live with less anymore. Then I am struck by the dreams that God has put on my heart and I know that if I stayed I would be defaulting to what is comfortable. I would be settling for less than God’s best just because it was easy, and I just know there would be this nagging feeling at the core of my being, telling me that there is so much more out there to discover.

    • I love so much about what you’re saying here, Julia. I really resonate with your story because I’ve lived in a few very comfortable places, and I’ve also taken risks to chase something important to me. I’ve also been tempted to skip out on a risk with the promise of comfort and safety. Thank you, thank you for sharing your story.
      “I love the space because of who I share it with, not what we have in it.”

      YES. What a beautiful way to say it.

  8. If I could have gotten this truth as a 20-something, we would have not gotten into the debt we did. I am proud of you! Your heart is what I would come over for tea for. And the couch would just be a tool to make our talk a little more comfortable.

    • Thank you Kandace! That’s a perspective I didn’t even consider when writing this, but the pressure to have a comfortable living space often pushes many 20-somethings into unnecessary debt. It’s so silly, if you think about it, but a real pressure we feel.
      Thank you for your kind words, and for reading!

  9. We live in an area where designer kitchens are a must have, so when people drop by I avoid sending them to the washroom through our 1970’s kitchen with falling off cupboard doors. We live in cheap rented accommodation, because our previous house won’t sell (which we only half own because clergy wages didn’t cover a whole house)!When we first married once we had acquired all the furniture we needed I fell pregnant with our first child (I was the breadwinner, husband was a student). I always maintain to this day first child’s arrival was timed perfectly by God to prevent us getting used to having too many material possessions. But we are happy despite always having so much less materially than most of those around us (no more so than in the last 2 years where things have been really tight financially)

    • It’s so hard not to get sucked into “keeping up with the Jones'” mentality. But then I break down the logic in my mind and I realize how stupid it is to hang my value on something as stupid as kitchen cabinets, countertops, or couches.
      Thanks for sharing your story.

  10. I know exactly what you mean! I have tried to instagram things before, but honestly sometimes I’m like, “why do I need to take a picture of my parents’ furniture?” (I currently live with my parents.) Some people’s lives look so glamorous online, but where will that get you in the end? Is that all we’re striving for? I refuse to let my life go by and one day God brings me home and asked “did you make disciples?” and I said, “no but look at how awesome my tumblr looks!” Not so great in the end. I want to make sure I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing on this earth.

  11. Love this post today Ally. I recently went from having a good job, with housing, to living in my best friend and her husbands spare room. Most of my stuff is stored in another friends shed. As you can imagine its less than ideal. Obviously, I’m looking for another job, but I’m also really enjoying taking some time out. I’ve never felt such grace and generosity from my friends and my God.

    • Sarah — what a cool story! We’ve found that, too. When resources are limited, it gives God a chance to show His love and protection in ways he didn’t (couldn’t) before because we were providing for ourselves.
      Thanks for reading, and for your comment.

  12. Allison, thanks for the reminder to be present in the present. I have always either lived bemoaning past mistakes or in la-la land dreaming about my future life. I too live with my parents with many of my children. Just this past year, I have come to terms with the present. Pascal has a great (long) quote about this, I can post it to you if you like. Thanks again for being real.

      • Hi Allison, Remember I said I’d get you that Pascal quote…well my bad. Here it is.
        “Let each of us examine his thoughts; he will find them wholly concerned with the past or the future. We almost never think of the present, and if we do think of it, it is only to see what light is throws on our plans for the future. The present is never our end. The past and the present are our means, the future alone our end. Thus we never actually live, but hope to live, and since we are always planning how to be happy, it is inevitable that we should never be so.”
        Blaise Pascal.

  13. I once lived in a house where the majority of the stuff in it was donated or left behind by the previous tenants. It was far from nice and pretty however it was a great place to learn what really matters, like true hospitality.Also we had 3 couches in the living room, each drastically different. For a while it felt like every person who came to visit had a story involving at least one of the couches. I’m so glad furniture doesn’t talk.

  14. I loved this Allison. I think that as a child growing up without much I took to the artistic things in life (writing, photography, art, theater, dance, music) so I can make those not so pretty things of my life different in my writing, or cross processed in photoshop, or be someone all together different on stage. And by no means am I saying any of those things are wrong, today they are intricate parts of my life and passions. But a few months ago, a million instagrams twitter updates later I realized I had lost touch of my self, my reality, and my truth. I was so concerned with staying current and posing and someone I wished to be that I forgot to just be me. Since that realization Ive deleted my (fake) past life (twitters, blogs, etc) and decided to share my real one. I believe it is through the truths of my testimony that others will be encouraged, just like I was tonight by the non-instagramed photo you shared with me and many others:)
    Thank you for being you and further encouraging me to be me!

  15. “Let each of us examine his thoughts; he will find them wholly concerned with the past or the future. We almost never think of the present, and if we do think of it, it is only to see what light is throws on our plans for the future. The present is never our end. The past and the present are our means, the future alone our end. Thus we never actually live, but hope to live, and since we are always planning how to be happy, it is inevitable that we should never be so.”― Blaise Pascal, Pensées

    The quote may be a little off point, but your post reminded me of this. Thanks, Allison.

  16. I know this is an old post, but it’s a good one. Thanks for the encouragement, Allison. I love your honest and open invitation to let be in process. I hope someday to have a lovely space to work and create, but I’m grateful for the small desk in the corner of my room and the work that I get to do from it. Thanks for your words and wisdom.

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