I have been in a decluttering state of mind for the last few weeks. I’m not sure what happened exactly, but I could almost physically feel the weight of all the useless stuff in my life, and it’s been driving me mad. I needed to clear my space to get rid of the oppressing feeling, both physically and mentally.
To be fair to myself, I’ve never been a hoarder so it’s not like I have heaps of stuff lying around and collecting dust, it’s just in the back of my mind I am always aware of how many things around me have no purpose. For whatever reason I bought them – and most likely, the only reason was an impulse – I don’t use them, and they don’t bring me joy.
Luckily, unlike many people, I have no trouble throwing or giving unwanted things away, and I dismiss all the ‘maybe one day it’ll be useful/fashionable/interesting to me again’ thoughts. The same rule goes for – gasp! – presents. I do not keep useless presents, however close I am to the givers, no matter how much time and money they spent on them, and when I give those gifts away, I feel peaceful that they may find their happier owners.
And unlike many people, I’ve long overcome the urge to replace the stuff that leaves my space. Giving away two bags of clothes is no reason to go shopping. It is a reason however to have a think about how those two bags happened in the first place.
Today, it’s exactly two bags of clothes that will go to charity. One bag has been sitting in my storage pod since summer, the other one quickly filled up in the last couple of weeks of scrutinous wardrobe revision. They are big and heavy.
The clothing items and shoes in there are in good condition and perfectly wearable. So why am I giving them all away exactly, I wondered? So I went through everything and even put six things back into my wardrobe, but the rest of that was labelled with one of the reasons below:
- it doesn’t suit me;
- it doesn’t go with anything I normally wear;
- I don’t like the quality.
Perfectly reasonable, isn’t it? No, it isn’t! Because why on earth did I buy something that didn’t suit me, didn’t go with anything I normally wear and was of questionable quality in the first place? And how much did it all cost me?
That was the last straw. So I estimated how much I spent on those two bags, and it exceeded £1,500. One thousand and five hundred pounds. That’s a lot of money! F*ck it, that’s a ridiculous amount of money spent on things that I wore a couple of times and changed my mind about. That’s several weekend getaways, a couple of nice beach holidays or one luxury holiday. That’s that Burberry trench I have been coveting for months. That’s 60 private language lessons. That’s 12 romantic dinners for two in good restaurants. That’s a lot of money wasted, basically.
‘Oh but they will help people in needed,’ someone may say, and I agree. But I think people in need would rather have cash than a couple of secondhand Zara jumpers.
To save myself, I will add that recently I have been buying fewer but better things, so my wardrobe is shrinking, but it is also going to last me longer. It’s taken me years to arrive at this mental state of mind where less is indeed more, and I don’t need more – more clothes, more shoes, more makeup, more cosmetics, more home items, more everything – to feel worthy.
And that’s the crux of the matter. Our sense of self-worth is so dependent on the stuff that we own that without it we feel worthless. And it’s no wonder we do: we are literally worth less when our potential savings or experiences or things we genuinely need never happen because they end up in bags of barely worn clothes in a charity shop.
I’ve had enough of this vicious circle of consumption. I’m decluttering my life and my mind and I am not falling for the same marketing tricks again of buying something because I’m worth it or something like that.
If you’ve been thinking about it too but unsure where start, have a look at this ’30 days to minimalism’ video by Pick Up Limes. The idea is ingenious in its simplicity: every day, you declutter just one area of your life and tick it off the declutter list.
I’m halfway through, and I am feeling that it’s not just my space is that getting clearer and lighter, but my mind as well – and it is my ultimate objective. Not that it is coming as a surprise to me, but I didn’t think this feeling would come so quickly.
And it’s amazing.