How do they do it?

Hi again.

As I near the end of my promised six months without clothing shopping next month (what, really??) and have had my ups and downs and a few slip-ups, I must say, I am relieved.  Not that I plan on going out and spending my whole savings on jeans and comfy winter sweaters (which is totally what I feel like doing).

No, I have been in a reflective mood. Mostly, I have been stressed out because of all of the stuff I have.  Recently, I have wanted to move into a place all of my own, one I can totally do all the decorations in, do the whole furniture buying thing, hang some pictures on the walls. My three-plus years here in Boston so far have consisted of living situations that have not allowed me to feel like I am at home.  Least of all is my current situation, where I pay my roommate a fraction of what the rent of my room actually should be, that he pays all the utilities for (1,000 channels on TV, internet, heat, etc.), and that he has total control over. It’s not that he has explicitly said I can’t change anything about the apartment. It’s just that I don’t feel like I have a say in what comes in and goes out.  So, essentially, I have been living out of a 10×10 room with all of my stuff overflowing every nook and cranny since I first moved in over a year ago. Yes, I sit on the overstuffed sofa and watch the ginormous TV, borrow his awesome slow cooker, and even vacuum the floors with his vacuum cleaner, but it just doesn’t feel like my own space. That was fine a year and some odd months ago when I was desperate to get out of my last living situation so I could get a dog. But now that we (my mutt and I) are settled in and I am doing better than I ever thought I could be post-recovery, I want to move on.  I want to show myself and everyone that I am a big girl and can live in a pretty house and clean up after myself (did I mention my roommate has a maid come every other week, as well, that I don’t pay for?), and do grown up things in that house.  I am just aching to have my own art space and be able to sit down and make a royal mess without being worried anyone is going to judge me for not picking up after myself immediately.

In my desperation to move, I have been looking at a lot of houses on the market, apartments for rent, and watching a lot of HGTV. Seeing all of these interiors has made me realize one thing – I have a lot of stuff for the amount of space I inhabit. Granted, all of my clothes, shoes, purses, and books would only take up a fraction of some of these huge 2,000+ square foot houses, but it doesn’t hide the fact that I have a lot of stuff for 100 square feet.  It is so blaringly obvious that I have become quite self-conscious about it. It is making me stressed, even.  I have talked about this before with my mom who (interestingly an obsessive pack rat herself) easily suggested that I just get rid of the junk I don’t need. Psh…easy for you to say, Mom. You have come to accept your hoarding tendencies over the past 25 years you’ve been married to Dad who has since resigned himself to a life of too many magazines, and not being able to use his perfectly good garage due to all of the crap in it.  Well, I can’t accept that sort of life for myself. I want these immaculate, minimalist houses that look like the women living there CLEARLY have their shit together. I want to have my shit together. Desperately.

Minimalist house in Sweden

That was one of the central issues behind why I started doing this project.  I had way too much stuff and was accumulating faster than I was diminishing.  So far, it’s been great. I’ve learned to really think before buying something about whether I really need it at that moment or not.  I know very well that anyone can find any item she needs at any time if she doesn’t buy it right in that moment. I know that, even if that amazing pair of leggings is on a massive sale one day only, I will be able to find the right pair of leggings when I actually need them and am seeking them out.

What I haven’t quite figured out yet, though, is how to deal with the stuff I already have.   I know I’ve already talked about getting rid of stuff, but as I get rid of the things I definitely know I don’t want, it’s getting harder and harder to pick out other items for that list. “But I already chose to keep this blouse six months ago…I haven’t changed my mind yet even though I haven’t worn it in that time” is what goes through my mind when I pick out the last dredges from the back of my closet after having stuffed them back there the last time I did a purging because I was too sentimentally attached or thought I might someday wear them. I know what you’re thinking. I just need to DO it. No exceptions – if I have had something that I haven’t worn during the season it was applicable in the last year, get rid of it. Period.

That’s all well and good…but there’s yet another problem. It’s not that I have a lot of stuff. It’s that I have a lot of stuff that does a lot of different things. I have a whole box of jewelry-making equipment. I have a drawer full of cosmetics and hair supplies (which I know is a lot less than most girls like me). I have shoes for every season imaginable, but only what I think I “need.” I have crafting supplies – knitting, sewing, baking, painting, drawing, upcycling, collaging, you name it. But only a few items for each hobby, and most of them overlap in their usefulness.

In short, what I’m trying to say is that maybe I just have a lot of hobbies that I have accumulated stuff for over the years. But I DO use these things. I just don’t know whether I should get rid of some hobbies that are less developed than others (pottery making never did quite make it), or if I should accept I have stuff and wait until I can move into a bigger space to house it all.

My mom said I shouldn’t look for a place to house my stuff, and I agree. It’s of a hoarding mentality that I truly do need all of my current belongings and just need more closet space or a garage. It’s also that gross women shopper/consumer mentality that I hate about most Americans. I refuse to live up to that. It’s why I only have 5 purses, am cutting down on my shoe purchases, and am doing this whole thing to begin with. I will NOT be a consumer. I will buy only what I absolutely need and nothing more. And I’ve gotten pretty good at it. Now I just need to figure out what to do with what I already have…..


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