The magic of getting rid of all your stuff

In a few weeks I’m moving across the globe with only one, maybe two suitcases. This started an interesting process of dematerialisation; I’m selling, donating and giving away most of my belongings. I can recommend doing this to everyone, maybe not to the extent of the aim to fit all your stuff in just one suitcase, but the magical feeling it gives me getting rid of stuff is worth to share.

My collecting phase

I rented my first apartment when I was 18. I loved to decorate and collect interior items. I moved 3 times and with every move my apartment was a bit bigger, so more space for more stuff. My apartment was completely my style. Every detail, every item was carefully picked out and placed. I was surrounded with all the things that I loved. Did it made me feel happy and fulfilled? yes. Well, temporarily until I felt like I needed more or something different. I always had this restless and unsatisfied feeling somewhere in the background.

This behavior was not just for interior items but also for clothes and books. I had an overflowing wardrobe, shopping was something I really enjoyed. And I have a weak spot for books and magazines,  the smell, the feeling of the paper and I love looking at the editorial designs.

What changed?

A year ago, when Brandon and I decided to live together, we looked for a new place. That’s when things shifted for me. I was forced to get rid of some things because we wanted to merge our stuff. I threw away a lot of stuff and I sold some items. In this process I learned quickly that what people were willing to pay for my stuff, was not even close to my emotional value. I realised that I created this value in my head. I projected my memories on material.

The moving in part was the first step in the process of letting go of the importance of material in my life. The next phase started when, at the end of June this year, our application for a winter base in Thailand got accepted. This process initiate me to make a lot of crazy and exciting decisions I never thought I would make. I know that I want to start fresh. This means ending our rent for the house and sell and give away everything. I want to leave the Netherlands with only one or two suitcases, and leave nothing behind.

Start small

I started small with a drawer in my closet. I went through all items and asked myself when I last used it and if I really needed it. A chain reaction happened. And a few hour later there was a huge pile next to me with stuff I didn’t use or need.

It’s not an easy process. Some things are harder to get rid of, I have that with clothes. I asked myself; when was the last time you wore this? If it was longer than a year, it’s time to rethink. Also the guilty feeling I got from the miscarriages hanging in my closet. Knowing i’m never going to wear this item. Selling it or giving it away is the best way to get rid of this feeling. Don’t start to think about the money you spend on it. If you leave it in your closet just in case you might ever start to like it (which won’t happen and you know it) this feeling will always creep upon you and that’s just not worth your energy.

Dematerialisation because of traveling

I really wasn’t the person who wanted to see the world and start traveling. I was happy with 3 weeks of vacation per year. I never thought I’d be leaving The Hague as a homebase. But being with Brandon, traveling became a huge part of my life. It opened my eyes to travelling experiences and making unforgettable memories by seeing the world. It made me realise what is really important; I’d rather spend my money on traveling and all the experiences and memories that come along with it. Next to this it’s just more pragmatic to travel light, I find myself always bringing too much stuff.

Becoming conscious instead of restless

The restless feeling I had disappeared when I started to de-materialize. I became aware that when I started feeling restless or unhappy I looked for fast and easy ways to feel happy; going shopping or buying stuff online was an escape. Instead of dealing with the feeling that was underneath this restlessness I covered it up with temporary happiness.

I started to become more conscious about what I was buying. Do I need it? The answer is mostly ‘no’. But when I feel like I need it for whatever reason I focus on items that fit me as a person and that are sustainable and not based on trends. Overall this means I buy things that are probably a bit more expensive, but they last longer and the last time I bought a miscarriage is way back!

What I do with my stuff

I don’t like the idea of throwing away stuff that is still in good condition. I gave away my books to a bookstore where they also sell second hand books. I gave 6 bags (and counting) of clothes to charity. And I’m selling some of my furniture. Although this gives me more stress, and it’s mostly not even worth the effort. We are also really lucky that the next tenant is willing to take over a lot of our furniture. In my last week in The Netherlands I will go to a thrift shop with everything that is left, hopefully they can make some people happy with my stuff.

Read more

Why I’m changing my homebase The Hague for a different city on the other side of the globe.

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