“Obsessed with the After” Club

I love the last five minutes of a home renovation show; skip the hard work, just show me the finale where it’s all pretty and clean. “Before and after” revelations amaze me; they are the ultimate visual catharsis for a problem solver like me. With a make-over, you can redo something, making it better and there’s a finite end to it; as opposed to working on that six-pack, which never seems to be good enough.

We are all suckers for making our lives better. Who wants to linger in the “before” if you know there’s the potential of an “after?” However, not everyone wants an “after;” sometimes the “before” is perfectly suited for right now.

Not me; I usually like to redo things. Makeup, hair, wardrobes, living room paint colors, the way we arrange our desks, the color of our kitchen chairs, the list goes on.

We have two bathrooms which need an update to bring them to the current decade. We finally saved up and renovated the smaller of the two bathrooms, and now I’m living in a real life “before and after,” concurrently. This presents an interesting scenario.

I thought I would hate the “before” bathroom with intensity, seeing the new shiny one, and wanting to modernize the second bathroom immediately. The revamped bathroom was teasing me. I could be stepping out of the shower onto smooth, clean mosaic tile rather than onto the remnants of an outdoor carpet I painstakingly taped down three years ago for what I thought would be a few months.

But the small renovation went above budget, took longer than expected, and since we disregarded Mercury in Retrograde, it also caused a leaky toilet when we didn’t even touch it.

My “before” bathroom suddenly seemed nostalgic; cozy even with the rug absorbing my dripping hair.

It goes beyond home renovations. While eating cereal in the morning, my daughter watched cartoons and zoned out as the commercials came on. Weight-loss surgery, before and after; botox shots, before and after; hair transplants, before and after. We’re shown how to hack our lives, organize our computer wires, redo our wardrobes. The concept of before and after is introduced very early on and replayed for us perpetually. It surrounds and touches us in every aspect of our lives.

In my obsession to make everything better, prettier, cleaner, more organized, more streamlined, healthier, I am wondering if any of it makes me any happier? I think it does, but somehow I have to figure out a way to navigate through life, letting my inner voices guide me the loudest. I have to trust my intuition and believe it’s powerful enough to drown out the annoying buzz of consumerist brainwashing distracting me from living in the perfectly acceptable “before.”


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