Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Great Knick-Knack Purge And Why I Chose To Become A Minimalist

Over 60 books once gathering dust in my home have now found new purpose at my local public library. The man who accepted my box of books seemed super excited to have them. I also donated another full carload to Goodwill this month. I carefully itemized everything before I brought it over, and will submit that information come tax season. Who knows... if our country falls off this fiscal cliff, these donations might really help my with the extra costs I would accrue!

There is a pile of items in my basement that I plan to sell, and each item was noted in detail and photographed before being put into storage. Now I can post them online at my convenience and watch them slowly find new homes where they will be more appreciated.

I also have one (yes, only one) box filled with sentimental items from my childhood. This box is mostly photographs and papers (which I plan to digitize) and precious small toys or stuffed animals. The box is only half full.

My attic currently only stores my window air conditioner, my suitcase, a bin filled with Halloween costumes and decorations, and a bin of outdoor winter gear. I've reduced my Christmas decorations to one box, along with one box for ornaments, and one box that contains my fake tree.

I have also been filtering through the items in my old room at my parents' house. I used to hoard a lot of paper, because I'd see an article or an image that inspired me and I'd tear it out and save it (these were the days before Pinterest). I ended up recycling about 9/10 of that massive stack. What's left are some personal documents, a few images, and some posters that I can sell to forever fans (people still collect Linkin Park stuff, right?). I've already made some money on items I've sold, and it has happily padded my savings account while stripping away unwanted things.

There is an inevitable moment during the minimizing process where the question arises: "Why did I ever think I needed all of these things?" It's taken me years to acquire all this stuff, and I'm sure it will take me a while to whittle down my possessions... if anything, to adjust to the change it brings along the way and how it forces me to live a little deeper than what I own.

That brought me to ask myself a follow-up question: "What was the watershed moment, one that made me realize I wanted to change and live more simply?" Just three years ago I was writing in my blog about how I wanted a massive closet filled with clothing and how I wanted a gigantic record collection, etc. It was all about quantity, or so I thought. Then... I got married.

I wed someone who very much enjoyed having things. It was about acquiring more, because if he had things, that meant to others that he had the money to buy them. It was a representation of what he valued; appearance was the priority. I found myself becoming disgusted with the stuff he accumulated, without really understanding the correlation that I was collecting things I thought valued, too.

When the marriage ended, it left me with a lot to think about. I was about to start a new chapter in my life. How did I want it to look? He had taken his things with him, and I found that a more spacious home really appealed to me. I began reading inspirational blogs (listed on the right hand side of my page) and understanding that what I craved was a simpler, more minimal lifestyle. It became apparent to me that I still wanted nice clothes and great records, but it became more about the quality of what I acquired. Will I wear this dress? Do I even listen to this band? Should I buy it because it is cheap or on sale or given to me for free? Should I keep it even if I paid full price but I never use it? Assessing what I really wanted to keep made it easier for me to part with the rest. I still have a healthy wardrobe and a record collection, but I've pared it down to what I use frequently and love the most.

One would think this is a common sense approach. Honestly, I thought what I was buying had use and value to me at the time. Before I knew it, I felt more tied down by my stuff than excited by it. The consumer bug had his claws in me, big time, and I hadn't even seen how it was changing me. I was also seeking happiness in things to distract myself from the unhappiness in my marriage.

The divorce had me looking at other areas of my life that I wanted to improve. I discovered I was utterly disgusted with materialism and ended up going very much in the opposite direction in a very short time. Though I dove into minimalism rather assertively, I have found I truly enjoy it. There has not been one regret as I donate, sell, or give away something I once deemed worthy enough to take up space in my home. My life has become more about quality, in many ways.

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