When we first started telling people we were moving into a camper the #1 question people asked us was, “But what about your stuff?”
It seems like a reasonable question: Downsizing from 1,000 sq ft to just under 200 sq ft meant we’d need to do some SERIOUS purging.
I’ve always considered myself something of a minimalist, constantly selling things I no longer needed or wanted and never shying away from tossing something I no longer found useful. But tending towards minimalism also meant it felt like we didn’t have a ton of extra “stuff” to part with. We didn’t have closets packed with items we hadn’t touched in years, or kitchen drawers full of mystery gadgets. We needed to get ruthless and maybe even part with some things we wanted to keep.
Well, folks — almost five months after getting rid of 90% of our belongings, I’m here to tell you:
I don’t miss my stuff.
In fact, there hasn’t been even one moment when I’ve thought, “Man, I really wish I hadn’t gotten rid of _____.” (If I’m being honest … I kind of feel like we still have too much stuff. Fortunately January is coming and I’ve just read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.)
Here’s the deal: I think most of us have more stuff than we need. Maybe even more stuff than we want. Here’s what we’ve learned after three months of downsizing and five months of less.
- Stuff is just stuff. When you’re getting rid of stuff it’s easy to get dramatic. It can feel like you’re not throwing away objects, you’re throwing away your past, your present, your whole identity. (I love throwing things away and I still get weird about getting rid of old race shirts. I earned that shirt, for Pete’s sake!) But I promise you, stuff is just stuff. You’ll still be the same person once you no longer own it, and you’ll still have the memories connected with it. We definitely got rid of some mementos and personal items when we were downsizing and I honestly can’t remember what any of it was.
- Stuff takes up your time. The thing about stuff is, you have to clean it. And fix it when it breaks. And put it away when it mysteriously ends up on the floor. One of the things I was most excited about moving into a smaller space was less cleaning. Our old apartment had five rooms — a kitchen, living room, two bedrooms and a bathroom. We have no kids and no pets. And yet somehow I felt like it took hours a day to keep up with all my belongings. Having less stuff translates to spending less time organizing, cleaning, and generally thinking about your stuff.
- Stuff holds you back. The bottom line is that we could never have done the things we’re doing today with all the stuff we owned before. Both from the perspective of the money we made selling our belongings and of our new lightness we feel in knowing all our stuff now fits in a 26′ camper we can bring with us anywhere we go, we are definitely feeling freer owning less.
- You don’t really need all the stuff you think you do. True story: When we got back from our six week road trip with only what we could fit in the Tahoe, our “downsized” camper full of possessions suddenly felt like luxury. For 12% of a year we’d survived just fine on a suitcase each, a cooler, and two bins of food and camping gear. That both made us question what we truly “need” and helped us appreciate our spacious 200 sq ft!
I’m going to post soon about my process for getting rid of 90% of our stuff, and I’m planning a January series on decluttering. In the meantime, tell me:
How do you feel about your stuff?