Life gives us welcome surprises if we allow it. I don’t know about you, but sometimes what we do out of necessity changes us in ways we could never have imagined? Sometimes we get a swift kick in the butt to bring us round to something good.
Two years ago I decided to prioritize my writing, at least until I finished my book and got it published. I needed more time than my 50+ hour a week job was permitting me. What I really needed was more head space than it was allowing me. And so I resigned.
Now I’m not rich by any means. I knew I couldn’t make it more than four months on what I had saved. I began searching for ways to make money on the side. I decided I would do anything (within reason) as long as it didn’t take too much time or mental energy.
I tried driving for Uber. Uh, no; not for me – way too much drama out there on the streets. I considered teaching online, but the reviews for most of the companies were horrible. I looked into a roommate and almost had one until her son’s girlfriend got pregnant and she moved in with them to help out.
That’s when a friend mentioned Airbnb and I thought I’d give it a go. I didn’t really expect it to be any better than Uber driving, but it surprised me. In fact, being an Airbnb host these past two years has changed me in ways I never would have imagined. It’s forced me to become more of the kind of person I want to be than any other job I’ve had.
Some things I don’t tell everyone:
I’m afraid of people: Actually, I’m afraid of what people might think of me. I’m afraid others will see the “real” me and not approve.
I’m a little bit controlling: Actually, I’m really just afraid of things that might happen that I can’t handle. I’m worried I’ll fail and everyone will know.
I’m somewhat of an introvert: Actually, I probably just think too much. Sometimes my thoughts overwhelm me with their complexity. Writing gives me a chance to clear my head. Without it, I think I’d go insane. So I really value alone time to read, write and meditate. I’m worried that other people won’t understand.
Inviting people into my home has made me get clear and comfortable with who I am. You can’t hide your weirdness for long when people are in your house. Your home is kind of like an extension of who you are and when you’re hosting it’s important to let people know all that up front, otherwise they will be disappointed if you try to represent you and your home as something you’re not. I’ll never forget when one of my guests who was also a host in Sweden told me I should fill out the personal profile information. “People want to know who you are,” he said. “A lot of times, who the host is matters more than what their home offers.” I had no idea! So I filled out the profile information trying to be as truthful as possible about who I am and what I’m into. This one little step began to change the kind of people who showed up at my door. My guests suddenly seemed more accepting and a little more like me.
Allowing people to spend days or weeks in my home has forced me to be less controlling and more trusting in general. People often arrive when I’m not home. They settle in, check out the digs and make themselves at home…in my home. Over time, I’ve learned how to anticipate my guests’ needs. I have notes around that tell them where to find things, how to connect to the internet, how to lock the bathroom door. I’ve done my best to prepare the space and that’s all I can do. And still, things happen. I’ve had electricity go out when guests are there on three occasions. I had an opossum die in the crawl space, and that stunk the place up real bad, phew!!! The 30-year old furnace is always a wild card. Both the AC and the refrigerator have died in July in different years. And you know what, I still get five-star reviews because surprisingly people are forgiving about these things that happen to all of us. Things, beyond our control.
We don’t get too many opportunities in life to really own our desires and have the Universe support that. Becoming an Airbnb host allowed me to really declare myself a writer. The people who stay with me are actually sponsoring my work, paying my mortgage and some utilities so I have time to write, time to finish my recent book and start on the next one. I’ve learned a new level of gratitude toward people I didn’t know until they walked through my front door. Acceptance is a circular kind of energy. When we accept ourselves, that leads to others figuring out how to accept us as well and in turn, we learn how to be more accepting of others. Hosting others, I’ve had the opportunity to really appreciate people for who they are because in every way they make my life possible.
I’ve thought that if I ever go back to a full-time job, I’d probably quit hosting Airbnb guests, but now I feel differently. I like having people here with me. I love that I can offer space to people who sometimes really, really need a place that’s more like home than a hotel: the man whose wife broke both of her legs falling off a scooter and had to be hospitalized 250 miles from home, the woman who started a new job in town before she had a place to call home, the man whose wife asked him to leave and he had nowhere else to hang his shameful face. The family who came from Malaysia to settle their son for college. The man who flew across the country to visit his dad is in an Alzheimer’s home.
People ask me what makes people rent an Airbnb? Are they on vacation in Indianapolis? I always reply, “no, they’re not really on vacation, they come for real-life human kinds of things, marriage, death, friends, family, transitions, work, and play.” Being a tiny speck in these people’s lives, I never would have guessed, but Airbnb has made me a better, more real kind of human.
Thanks for reading… Tracy ~A Girl on Her Own