For the month of November, I’ll be participating in BootsnAll‘s Indie Travel Challenge. Click here to go to the beginning. Unlike some travel challenges, this isn’t just answering questions – as you’ll see below.
How is having experiences better than having possessions?
Experiences and possessions both bring joy, but in different ways. Think back to childhood… perhaps there was a toy you’d always wanted (Skydancers anyone?), but after you finally got it, it was far less interesting. During that same time, an experience – a trip to the beach, acting in the school play, your first concert – had all of the lead-up excitement and then continued to entertain afterwards. I still feel a certain nostalgic happiness when I think back on some of my favorite experiential memories, yet I’m not as enamored when I think of once-treasured possessions. In sum: despite all logic to the contrary, experiences last longer (in memory!).
That was easy. Now to the more challenging part.
Go through your stuff and pick out 3 items to give away/donate.
Instead of choosing three individual items to give away, I chose three buckets: winter gear, books, and unused cosmetics (new, of course!). This made it harder, since I felt like choosing three bottles of lotion was cheating.
How do you feel giving away your stuff?
I mostly feel good – this stuff was basically clutter anyway! My hat/glove box has been overflowing for a while, and I don’t even wear most of this stuff – yet I keep it. Since I do consumer testing for cosmetics (hey, free makeup!), I end up with a lot of extra product (hey, free makeup!). Frequent travel has resulted in my Kindle ownership, but I tend to hang on to any physical books I obtain (despite lacking a bookcase). I will admit – choosing which book to give away was a little hard. Ultimately, I went with a 600-page tome that I’ll never reread.
What has this taught you about what you can/can’t live without?
When you’re settled in one place for a long time, you acquire things. It finally seems like a good time to upgrade your pots and pans, or you receive artwork as a gift. It’s an investment in your home. This makes it harder to see the truth: you don’t need all of this stuff, and it can actually be harmful. Owning too much stuff means you need a bigger place, which is more expensive! Despite understanding this, I still face this challenge regularly. I know I can live without most of my possessions, and need to be more diligent about paring my belongings down to the essentials. If I don’t even use it, time to toss.
Have you learned anything from this experience?
I used to think I was immune to clutter. When I was younger, I made a vow not to hoard items for their sentimental significance, because I saw firsthand how problematic that could be. I’m pro-experience, anti-possession. Yet I found this challenge difficult, because there always seemed to be a good reason to keep something around. The truth of the matter is if I was on a long trip right now, I wouldn’t miss 95% of the things in my apartment–and that’s important to remember.