One of my recent revelations is understanding how possessions shape identity, and vice versa. Over the last several years I have frequently swept through my house, discarding things we don’t need or use. Going from a cabinet full of dishes to one for each family member has been easy. Letting go of old letters, yearbooks, photos, and other sentimental things hasn’t been a terribly difficult process. On the other hand, to pare down and get rid of the things that I consider a part of who I am was a real challenge. Not because I was attached to the stuff specifically, but because being a crafter and a circus girl and a funky dresser are all things that have defined me.
I spent some time thinking about how I wanted the things I own to represent me. To be a declaration. To almost prove that I am x, y, or z. It was so frustrating because what I want is to be a minimalist and have all the simplicity that goes along with that. I’d get so stuck in war between wanting less, but feeling like I needed my things to express myself. Those thoughts were an awakening. Once I recognized that thought pattern, I made changes. I gave in to the awareness that the acquisition, maintenance, and use of a lot of my stuff was distracting me from my real desires. I don’t need to be a walking billboard for myself. I can be happy without all those things. In fact, I’ve been much happier without all of it.
I culled my enormous arts and crafts supply horde. I donated the majority of my clothes and shoes. I gave away hula hoops, juggling balls, costumes, and jewelery. I let go of artwork. I sold my guitar. I burned my art journals. I got rid of so much stuff, but I didn’t lose anything. I rid myself of the expectations that those possessions impressed upon me. I gained breathing room. I gained freedom. I gained a deeper sense of self-knowledge and I brought myself more peace.
Do I think self-expression is important? Hell yes. However, I’m more interested in myself as an individual without all the material things getting in the way!