It wasn’t until I left for college that I realized how many things I have. When you’re packing them into box, in the car, out of the car, out of the boxes, and into a place in your teeny tiny dorm room, you realize just how many pointless items you own. Regardless of that realization, I did the same thing — pack as many of my items as I could into my dorm and then soon to be apartment — for four years. Then I moved home and that’s when it hit me. I need to give up the stuff.
I won’t lie; it’s not easy giving up your things. That’s why I sat on the idea for a few months, looking around at all my precious belongings, and thought about when I’d be ready. Everything around me meant so much, even the small items. There was the outfit that I wore the first time I snuck into a bar (way too short and see-through to ever wear again), the jewelry that had given me so much confidence when I slipped it on, the books that were with me as I grew up.
Then I threw everything on the ground. It was a weird Marie Kondo moment that I regretted as soon as I had done it. According to the book, I was supposed to pick up the item and, depending on it if it gave me joy or not, set it in a designated pile. It didn’t take me long to realize that this stuff didn’t mean anything. Whether I had the items with me or not, I still had the memories of sneaking into the bar, the confidence earned from the jewelry, the knowledge from the books.
So I decided to stop caring about stuff and start cherishing experiences instead. After I haphazardly gathered everything off the ground and shoved them back into their designated spots in my room, I vowed to a] throw away the Marie Kondo book — after all, I did say I’d stop worrying about things — and b) spend my time in the moment instead of trying to save it.
A funny thing happens when you decide to alter your life in such a large [read: minute] way. Everything in your life begins to look brighter. I know that may sound absolutely insane and Buddha-esque, but stick with me for a second.
The first thing I noticed was that I was saving a hell of a lot of money. This is one that that I didn’t expect, but it was a nice surprise. Instead of spending my time online shopping and jumping at every new makeup launch, I was saving my money for weekend trips with friends or date nights with my boyfriend. Because I wasn’t spending as much money, I could do more meaningful activities. Like take a candle-making class with a friend and sign up for the yoga classes I’d never had the cash to splurge on. Simply put, I was living the life I had always wanted.
Another surprising side effect of this little prescription of self-love was that I was having a lot more fun. Genuine fun. I reached out to friends I hadn’t spoken to in a while and searched social media for fun events going on in the area. It was like a whole new world had opened up. One that I had been missing while I was shopping for new clothes in the mall or was too worried about gas money to be able to go to.
While I didn’t really know what I was getting into when I started the journey to cherishing experiences, it was this last unexpected result that really caught me off guard. My stress and anxiety levels settled down. Of course, they didn’t completely go away. [I’m not a miracle worker here.] But I ended up having more time to myself, when I vowed to drop the obsession with things. That really helped me focus on my health and happiness, which in turn made me more relaxed.
We live in a materialistic world. People are constantly posting on social media about their nicer-than-yours car or designer bags. But if you can go against the grain and give up those things, even just for a week, I can guarantee that your life will be brighter. Because, as my not-so-good friend Marie Kondo would say, those rose-colored glasses are just getting in the way.