How are you? I’m rather fine, thanks, even if I’ve been silent here for a while and I’m not sure if this post means that I’m coming back for good. But on this moment of the year falls the anniversary of my move to the UK and it incites some reflections.
On this day:
– 2 years ago, I was packing my wardrobe for moving to the UK with my husband and I packed lots of clothes and items that had already exhausted their tasks of being useful and bringing me joy.
– 1 year and 10 months ago, I decluttered my wardrobe. I filled around 8 bin bags, the big ones for the weekly litter collection, and I donated them to the charity shop right underneath my husband’s flat. The bags were filled with clothes, accessories, shoes and costume jewellery. That action made me fell lighter and helped us reduce the number of boxes for our next move, two months later.
– 1 month ago, I felt the need to declutter again and I filled other three bags with clothes, shoes, bags, and custom jewellery. I felt even better this time but I know that I still have some items that I don’t really use and have finished bringing me joy. Later this month or the next, I’m going to declutter again.
What did I learn from all this tossing away?
First of all, I understood that I need to possess a lot fewer things that I thought. At the time, I had already passed through an awkwardly high number of relocations: from my parent’s home to the university hostel, from there to three different shared apartments, from one of those to my first living together with a boyfriend, from that to living by myself, than a boyfriend again, then alone again, then finally, it was the love of my life, me and our cat. And every time I moved, I carried with me all my possessions, which, after 20 years, had become quite a few.
Then, between May and June 2015, I decluttered for the first time.
I remember looking at my possessions with a question going on and on in the back of my mind: “what if I need this later?” Since at the time I had no money to buy new stuff, I answered to that question: “let’s keep this!” more than once, and I saved from the charity pile things that I didn’t really like or use anymore. No need to say: I didn’t need those things, later.
Then, one month ago, thanks to the new income I secured with my job, I gave myself permission to declutter some more. In that moment, I learned my second lesson, why I felt the need to drag with me all those things for years: I had encrypted part of my identity, a huge piece of it, in the things that I possessed.
Those things that weren’t useful to me in an immediate, practical way. They worked as statements of who I was, as symbolic roots, as pieces of hardware memory. Nina is the woman who wore this, the nerd who read this and the vintage lover who collected this. This is not true anymore. Well, I still love vintage, I am still a nerd and surely I didn’t stop being a woman, but I want to try new things, wear new clothes, engage in new activities. If my desire is to flow like a river and being a self in constant evolution, I should follow the example of the hermit crab and change my temporary shell as I need it, instead of sewing myself to a carriage to fill endlessly.
So, I am going to let go of some things, again. I know I’ll do it again and again. It’s perfectly fine for me. I can’t wait to lift my baggage some more, to see empty spaces, to feel lighter.
And you? What works for you? Do you use your possessions as hardware memory of who you are as well? How do you feel about the idea of letting go possessions to free the mind? Let me know in the comments. In the meanwhile, thank you for your precious time and have a lovely weekend.