Upsizing My Life
It’s currently April, 2015. I graduated college in May of 2006.
I promptly put my salary to work when I graduated and started buying things.
Things I needed.
Things I wanted.
Things I didn’t need, but thought I needed.
Things that were trendy.
Things that were shiny.
Things that were big.
Things that I was supposed to buy.
Nine years is a long time to buy things.
It Started with a House
Society told me that I was making enough money so I should buy a house. So I did. And a duplex.
If you own a house and a duplex, you have to fill them with stuff and have tools and equipment to maintain them.
So I bought furniture for every room in the house and bedroom sets and lawn mowers and TVs and a truck and patio furniture and filled my kitchen with pots and pans and dishes and gadgets. I even bought everyday decorations and seasonal/holiday decorations to make it feel all homey like.
And toys. Don’t forget the toys – Xboxes, games, mountain bikes, in-ceiling speakers, DVDs (those were a thing back then), entertainment center, the works.
And then I Started to get Smaller…Kind of
After leaving the house and duplex in Texas, I had to downsize slightly when I lived in a house with 2 other people. But not by that much. In fact, other than my truck getting stolen and replacing it with a Honda Civic, I can’t remember what I got rid of at this point. Maybe my office desk and a bookshelf or something. Oh, and a lawnmower and weed-whipper.
After that, I moved into a 1-bedroom apt. in Minneapolis. Talk about putting 10lb. of shit in a 5lb. bag.
I started getting rid of things like college books, old land-line phones, xboxes, clothes I might need someday, extra dishes and cookware. But I also obtained another bike, a whole bunch of gym equipment, camping gear, and climbing gear.
My next 1-bedroom apt. was about the same size. Nevertheless, I did a typical amount of throwing stuff away I wasn’t using anymore. Here, my stuff grew to additional plants and a huge shelving system for all my newfound gear.
The move to Colorado didn’t require any downsizing other than the usual junk I didn’t use anymore. And this website started taking off so I was actually getting a lot more gear.
Then I moved into another house I was sharing with two other people, which is where I am now. I was almost forced to get rid of stuff. I said goodbye to another bookshelf, a dining room table and chairs, TONS of clothes, and my plants went to my parents as did some pictures and artwork.
Nevertheless, my things are still occupying 1/3 of the garage, my bedroom, 1/3 of the basement, a full bathroom to myself, and my furniture and TV are being used in the common areas. I also filled any gaps in kitchen needs. Anything leftover is in boxes in the garage.
When I look at what I have here, it’s drastically less than I used to, but it’s still way too much.
Stuff is Memories
I wouldn’t consider myself a pack-rat, but I have a hard time throwing things away or getting rid of them. I don’t own a lot of things anymore that I don’t actually need and use. I take care of my things, and my stuff lasts a really long time.
Things and stuff that have been with me for 9+ years are more than just stuff and things.
I can remember when and where I’ve gotten each article of clothing I still own. I can remember what my life was like and what was going on when it was brand new.
My couches have been with me since that house in TX.
I still have a small chest freezer I got when I was in college. My mattress was brand new my Junior year.
I’ve kept two old, hole-y shirts that I got in 1995 at summer basketball camps for the sole reason they were my grandma’s favorite to see me wear. And now my grandma is gone, but I still have the shirts.
I lost my college and one of my high school football jerseys in one of the many moves, but I kept the one I wore for one season of semi-pro football. The one that means the least to me. I also have my gloves and cleats from the last game I ever played. Once I move into the van, other than pictures, I will have no connection to my life of football. And trust me, it was my life from 1995 – 2004.
Stuff is New Memories
But for everything that is completely essential that I have to take with me in the van, there are new memories to be created.
New places, new friendships, new relationships, new experiences, a whole new life.
Old stuff will meet new things.
So How do I Downsize?
How do I just get rid of memories like they mean nothing?
By letting go.
I don’t need couches and bedroom sets to remind me of living in TX.
I have plenty of college memories and friends to remind me of those 5 years. I don’t need a mattress or freezer.
I have way too many clothes. Sure, it’s always a nice trip down memory lane when I see my red and black striped button-up shirt and think of partying and dancing in the clubs in downtown Minneapolis in 2010. But how many shirts and t-shirts from 2006 does a guy really need when it’s 2015?
The things that don’t age and I know I’ll need again in the future (mostly my kitchenwares) can go in storage.
And what’s left?
A bunch of memories without physical reminders, essential things I need to put in the van, and two hole-y t-shirts for my grandma.
Don’t Miss Your Chance
I was stuck in Corporate America for 9 years. I was miserable.
Then I took control.
You can too, and it starts right here.