Thursday, June 2, 2016

My belongings are not my identity

I have always been one to keep things. Once I kept a piece of bark from the school playground because it was found on one of my lost sweaters and I thought it was a lucky piece of bark if that tells you anything about my hoarding issues.

I mean, I'm not a total hoarder, but my family has always just grown up frugal and crafty. Not so frugal that we really had financial issues, but just a sense of "Hey, we could make something out of that." So, I've always kept things and been the one buying new things too.A little bit materialistic, no? 

Going to college freshman year was especially difficult because it meant parting with my stuff. I was moving for the first time, away from my childhood stuff and to a place I didn't know. I ended up bringing just about everything because it was my way of dealing with the fear of not knowing how to live away from home. My mom actually packed me FOUR months' worth of tampons because we were both so scared of not knowing how to get somewhere without a car. I packed everything I could imagine because having my stuff comforted me when I didn't know my surroundings.

It barely fit in our car, and of course, I didn't end up wearing half of what I packed when I was at school. Sophomore year was a little bit better, but still, I was packed in with all my stuff, lots of which I wasn't using or wearing. Why did I have such a problem with all my stuff?

This past semester was one of total change. One of realizing what some of my deeply rooted issues were and trying to change them. While packing up my room to move out, I started throwing away things I knew I wouldn't need, and I promised myself I wouldn't ever bring this much stuff with me to school again.


The sad thing was, this wasn't even all of it. I had my car packed down with stuff, as well. As soon as I got home, I knew it was time for getting down to the essentials and nothing more.


And honestly, this is what happened. It just came over me that all of these things I thought made me feel better were making me feel more anxious. I couldn't hang up all the clothes I did wear because clothes from middle school were still in the way. I couldn't think about my future without thinking about all of the stuff I was hoarding from my past. That purse I bought from Chinatown when I was 12? No thanks. The Lilly Pulitzer catalogs I saved to make something with? In the trash. And it was pretty relieving.

I think part of it comes from thinking I won't have anything if I throw these things out. That I'll just be destined to be with nothing if I don't have eeeeverything, when in reality, they're bogging me down from being able to move past that mindset of stuff being equivocal to identity. Now, don't get me wrong, I like having my things, but things that I'm not using are not needed. Nor are the things that I may need someday. Like I said, growing up frugal makes you sometimes think, "I don't need that now, but I may later!" to avoid buying things in the future.

Sure, it's a great attitude to have sometimes, but at this point in my life, it's not for me. I was getting ready to fly to NYC for the summer and then to Belgium in the fall. I don't really live at my house in Kentucky anymore, so why should I keep things there that I'll never use? It made me feel a lot better to just get them out of the way so I could focus on the future and not the past.

The idea of being simple also had to come into play when I was packing to fly to NYC. While I wanted to bring all of my fun shampoo and every dress I own, I had to be realistic. I can buy shampoo there and I don't have enough days in the summer to wear everything I own. Flying was difficult because it was the first time I was moving where I wasn't driving with the ability to bring all of my things, but it helped make decisions for me. Two checked suitcases, a carry-on, and a backpack. Let's go.


Sure, some people may say that's a lot, but for three months, it was a good fit for me (hey now, your girl's still got a lot of shoes!). 

Part of it comes with independence. I was able to check those myself, get to a taxi, get to my apartment, and not only move once, but twice with all that stuff. I could move easier and not be stressed with lots to carry because I was more flexible with my belongings. I was focusing on what was actually around me and not what I was owning.

It also applies when it comes to going out in the city. No one wants to be bogged down on the subway with tons of stuff, and as much as I'd love to bring an entire day's worth of stuff, truth is, I don't need it. I had such a nice day when I just had a water bottle, a purse with my wallet, a phone charger, and sunglasses. 


For truly enjoying days out, you don't necessarily need all your "stuff". 

I'll probably always tend to have similar needs to my stuff, but I'm working on it. Maybe someday I'll be at the point where I fly to NYC with only suitcase... maybe.

xoxo,
Meredith


2 comments:

  1. This was an awesome post! I got married a year ago and still have tons of stuff at my parents house. Do I need any of that stuff if I haven't even thought about it in a year? Nope! When I get home from my current vacation, I'm going to go over and help my mom toss it/donate it all!

    xoxo, SS

    The Southern Stylista

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