Take a moment and think back to when you first posted an item for sale on Craigslist. Now think of the first time someone responded to that listing. Did you feel something along the lines of…
This is it, they know where I live, I’m about to die.
Maybe that’s just me. Which is why I don’t use Craigslist anymore, or Letgo, or Offerup, or any app where people can see my belongings and come kill me for them. I’m exaggerating of course…
But that’s the same feeling I had when I first posted my HOME on Airbnb. The crazy part is that I lived alone at the time, and thought it was a splendid idea. Let’s have total strangers come sleep in my home…and kill me. Ok, still exaggerating…or am I?
I have no clue what got into me, but I accepted this couple from Australia for a couple of nights at my place. I shook as I greeted them at the door.
WHAT WAS I DOING?!
Of course, no one else knew I was doing this…how would they find my body...
It just so happened that they were a delightful couple who really enjoyed my company. We ended up talking for about two hours on my couch.
Me, the introvert, socializing with total strangers, for 2 hours, in my home, on my couch.
Let’s just say that I didn’t do that again until my husband moved in with me. As well as that encounter went, I was too anxious and scared to continue on my own. But the moment he moved back to the United States, we bought into the Airbnb lifestyle (we did some extreme vetting on each person before we accepted them, so we had zero negative experiences). We received the honor of being a Superhost, and benefitted from taking the first spot in all searches within our area. I worked very hard to maintain that status, not just for the benefits, but also to prove to myself that I was capable of being a gracious and welcoming host. To this day I keep in touch with many of the people that walked through our doors, and I am lucky to call a few of them my friends.
Here are my lessons learned:
- No matter how tired I was, if a chirpy happy-go-lucky guest wanted to chitchat in the evenings, I put my best face on and talked to them as if they were my best friend. I learned to adjust to other people’s moods.
- Since I had no hosting skills whatsoever, I went out of my way to create the best environment I could. I offered them all the amenities available in our home. Which means we cooked side by side with total strangers, sat on the couch watching the news with them, did their laundry, and ate breakfast at the table with them. I learned to share my space.
- Having people come in and out for one night really helped me create a standardized routine to clean their room. I learned to be efficient with my time.
- Whenever an issue arose, and I would get a text from a guest, it felt like the world was ending. I mentally prepared myself for a bad review, thinking it would deter other guests from staying with us. I learned that I couldn’t please everybody, no matter what I did.
- There were days that I didn’t want to deal with guests, but a request for a two week stay made it impossible to say no. I learned to keep an open mind and to push myself out of my comfort zone for an extended period of time.
- Having strangers in our home meant we needed to trust them with our belongings. I learned that most people have good intentions and will do no harm.
- Hosting such a diverse group of people allowed me to come out of my shell automatically. I learned that I could switch on my extroverted qualities whenever needed.