Ego is a B*tch: When Downsizing is Right-Sizing


This is the fifth post in a series on my family’s decision to downsize and how we went about doing it — the good, the bad, and the ugly. You can find links to previous posts in this series at the end of this article.

I’m worried that I’ve made it seem like my family’s decision to downsize was an easy one, and that once we had decided to do it, it was all la-la-la, happy faces, and unicorns.

It was not.

I am prideful.

In the beginning, I was focused totally on lifestyle change, on simplifying our lives with a smaller, less expensive house in a quaint neighbourhood — Pointe Claire Village — within walking distance of the water, bus routes, restaurants, cafés, and shops. I saw love and happiness when I saw Pointe Claire Village. It was sunshine and shimmer, character and grounding, front porches and peace.

As we examined our finances yet again, it became clear that it would NOT be prudent to NOT make the change. As in, it would be very unwise not to downsize.

And once that became clear, a very odd thing happened: I felt the urge to dig in my heels, to fight for another day, to somehow find a way to stay where we were.

I didn’t want to HAVE to downsize. And technically we didn’t have to, because we had been smart savers as young professionals for many years before we had kids. But that was our retirement savings, and that was a line in the sand for us. If we wanted to protect our retirement savings, as two self-employed people perhaps should(!), NOT downsizing would NOT be smart.

And that’s when my ego kicked in.

And to this day, from time to time, though rarely now, I still wonder whether we could have hung on to the big house with the beautiful backyard — especially when it’s a blizzard outside and we no longer have a garage, or when it’s sweltering and there’s no pool to jump into any longer. I wonder whether we could have made it work, should have stuck it out longer, could have fought back.

It’s crazy how even now, 3 years later, with all of us happy where we are, none of us able to picture ourselves still living in our previous home and neighbourhood, all of us feeling like we were meant to be here all along, I still from time to time have to fight my ego.

Because that’s all it really is: ego.

The urge to fight for another day.

The urge to keep everything you have.

The urge to stay where you are, not change a thing, maintain a brave (but false) façade, keep the big house, maintain a lifestyle you cannot afford and that may not even please you anymore because of the angst that comes with it.

Ego.

Ego’s a b*tch. And I still have to battle it.

I’m telling you this to ensure that you know that downsizing is rarely a linear, straightforward, easy process — so that you can keep an eye out for that ego, and call it what it is when it brings you down, stands in the way of your progress, and makes you worry about what others may think.

It’s ego. And digging in your heels merely feeds it…and keeps you right where you are.