Lately I have been doing something that I’ve never done before – I’ve been purging.
I have been living on my own now for the better of four years; meaning, without extended family members graciously taking me in off the street, but still with roommates. Since being on my own, I have acquired, in my humble opinion, too much stuff. Most of the furniture I own I have either obtained by trips to IKEA, or it has generously been gifted to me by people noticing the extreme lack of material possessions in my life.
For a while, I was happily accepting this stuff- I thought that cramming an apartment with things was important in building a home for myself. Filling up a space with personal stuff is what everyone else my age is doing now, so setting up shop is what being an adult is, right? What I found though is that with every added “thing”, my conscience got more and more weighed down.
Now, as you know, I am not one of those travelers that is constantly on the move, and I have paid rent every month in the same city for the past five years (yes, to those family members too). However, in those five years, I have moved seven times. SEVEN. If I take a step back and psychoanalyze myself, I realize that the rate in which I move and the amount of stuff I want to have in my life is correlated. In short, I’m tired of moving junk from apartment to apartment.
My purging is at the point where if I see clothes on my floor, it means I have too many and so I take a bag out to Goodwill. If a closet is messy, I don’t only go in and clean it but I go in, make a pile to sell, and throw whatever I don’t really need away.
This process of stripping my life of possessions has led me to re-evaluate three things:
What does it take for me to consider something have ‘sentimental’ value? When I was younger, and you can verify with my parents about this, I was a pack-rat. It made me emotional to throw anything away. Everything I owned evoked a memory and had a sentimental quality. I kept every paper known to man and jewelry that I made myself and would never wore. These days, I am a little more heartless. I keep things based on a “who gave it to me” and “where did I get it from” evaluation. If someone I love gifted me something, I’m more inclined to keep it, and if I got it in a foreign land, well I can’t very well throw it away either. Other than that, I have learned to cherish memories and write everything I do down. Memories are more important than mementos.
What can I do to be less wasteful? I could go into a whole rant here about consumerism, pollution and materialism here, but instead I’m just going to say how I have come to realize these things concepts apply to me. I have learned to tell the difference between a need and a want. Yes, I need a good winter coat in Canada, but no, I do not need five different winter coats for fashion sake that will inevitably end up in a landfill somewhere. Yes, I need hygiene products and I do wear makeup, but I do not need to keep all the bottles of lotion that I do not use on a shelf for years on end. Before every purchase, I evaluate how I am going to use the product and how often I am going to use the product.
Is the value of the article in question greater if I keep it or if I sell it? Let’s not forget the great monetary value of not buying frivolous stuff. One of the great ways I save money for travel is by cutting back on my spending as well as selling off possessions I do not need. My out-dated DVD collection and a TV? I don’t have cable or satellite and it’s 2015 – I can find whatever I want to watch online.
By stripping myself of material possessions, I feel free; free to move around as much as I need and not rely on “stuff” to make me feel at home. Unlike the peers I was looking upon for guidance, I am not ready to settle into one place for the rest of my life, I crave mobility, and I crave spending money on experiences over possessions.