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Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Relieving the Burden of 'Stuff'

My whole life I have been surrounded by ‘stuff’.  My kryptonite is books, but I am a hoarder and so have plenty of knick-knacks, craft supplies, pens and notebooks and things I collect.  As I was growing up I had hundreds of books on my shelf (many of which are still sitting on my bookcase in my old room) and I wasn’t the only one. Every room in our house houses books, and at least two of them hold my dad’s C.D. collection (which was well into the thousands last time I checked).  This accumulation of stuff was just part of the scenery; I didn’t realise just how much I had until I moved out.

During my first year at university I only had a tiny room to house my life and so the majority stayed back with my parents.  In my second and third years I had slightly more space and storage options in the house I lived in with ‘friends’.

It wasn’t until I moved in with Chris about 2 years ago, that I finally figured out why I was still surrounded by ‘stuff’. (I should probably mention here that Chris is by far the greatest minimalist I’ve ever known which is probably why I started re-evaluating.)  I knew I wanted to cut down, but I found it increasingly difficult to get rid of anything (like I said, I have always been a hoarder), until I realised that I was evaluating myself by my stuff.  I didn’t want to get rid of anything as everything symbolized something about who I am or who I used to be.

It wasn’t until this breakthrough that I finally understood what was holding me back.  I had made my stuff crucial to my identity and so I didn’t want to lose the physical manifestations of my identity. Understanding this, I finally started to accept that my stuff is not me.  Yes, a lot of it does represent who I am, but not all of it is necessary in my life. I was feeling stressed and burdened by the physical clutter around me.  Since my ‘breakthrough’ my mindset started to change and I knew that I need the space (physical and mental) to make way for who I am becoming, which has allowed me to start relieving myself of the ‘stuff’.

I am not a minimalist. I don’t plan on becoming a minimalist.  I expect I will always have quite a bit of stuff (this is a natural result of being into many crafts and wanting to try so many different things).  But over the past year, I have cut down my stuff by about half (that’s a very rough estimation).  I know that I still have a long way to go – packing to move last time and having to decide what to ‘store’ at my parent’s and what to bring with me definitely proved that – but I am looking forward to the journey that not feeling tied down will give me the chance to live.

If you are on a similar path of decluttering and reclaiming your space, you might enjoy reading Rachel’s blog ‘The Minimalist Mom’.  And of course, share your experiences in the comments.

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