Confessions of a Minimalist: 9 Reasons I Miss My Stuff
Lately, I've noticed a rise in the "anti-stuff" movement. Have less. Buy less. Spend less. Need less. While this is dandy for some, I've survived with "less" for the last 7 months and, honestly, I've grown sick it.
Since September when I quit my job to travel, I have gotten by on very little. We sold or gave away all of our furniture and non-essential items.
For nearly 4 months while traveling I lived out of a carry-on size backpack. Since returning to the States in late January, I've been wearing the same 4 sweaters and living in a semi-furnished apartment. A bed, couch, and table were included. My spouse and I got by with 2 towels, 4 forks and spoons, 4 plates, and 4 glasses borrowed from my parents. (See also: Life Without a Microwave)
I believe in having less stuff, but I'm beginning to miss all the old stuff that I had. I've spent some time trying to figure out why.
It turns out there are 9 Reason I Miss My Stuff:
Do you remember the "wagon wheel table" from When Harry Met Sally? Jess and Marie argue over a hideous table and decide to get rid of it. My spouse and I argued over an ugly table. I won. The table now resides with a British woman in DC, but now I miss the familiarity of it.
Sometimes you just want to curl up and read a book after dinner, and not have to wash the dishes. But then you wouldn't have clean spoons for your morning cereal.
Right now I have stacks of papers on a small bookshelf in our rented apartment. There are 3 other 1-foot tall stacks (no joke) sitting on my high school desk in my parent's house. I don't know where things are. Worse, I'm afraid to throw things out because I might need them sometime soon.
Automatic freezing ice cream machine. No thinking ahead required, just plug it in and go. Pure genius. I miss it. I miss my pasta maker and my non-Teflon pans. No, I never needed these items while traveling. Nor do I need them now. But wouldn't it be fun to make homemade pasta and ice cream one night?
My dining room table may have been from Ikea, and it wasn't the most amazing table in the world. But by spinning and flipping, it doubled in size and we could accommodate 6 guests instead of just the two of us. Now the only table we have is a small square card table.
Unfolding the futon for movie nights. Three friends (no joke) who had some sort of bodily malfunction while staying overnight on that futon. The memories were countless. My futon is gone, sold to the highest bidder on Craigslist.
I never thought I'd grow sick of the few shirts I own that are currently not packed away. (I'm fairly boring when it comes to clothing.) But I actually miss the colors, the stripes, the variety in having more than a few shirts.
You can't live as a vagabond forever (at least, I couldn't). Some day you will want to settle down and have stuff again. When you do, you'll find that it takes time to accumulate stuff. Sure, I could buy everything new. But I'm not one to waste (and I love a good deal) so I've spent hours on Craigslist, and at auctions and estate sales, perusing ads for rolltop desks, TVs, rugs, and chairs. If you don't want to take time to find new stuff, don't get rid of your old stuff.
We sold our dresser, bookcase that acted as a bedside table, and a traditional bedside table for $120 total. We purchased a new dresser, two side tables and bed frame for $600, used from a consignment shop. (Granted, they were a very nice matching set.) It's rare that you can make money selling and then re-buying an item.
I'm by no means advocating that you should start hoarding, or even that you should move everything you own across the country with you instead of selling it. But I am saying that there's something to be said for having stuff — especially familiar stuff. Getting by with less can be liberating, but there are upsides to having more.
In the end it's about finding the balance that's right for you. Don't have so much stuff that you're overwhelmed, and don't have so little that you're tempted to raid Cosco to acquire more.