Elk Lake Michigan

When You Belong To Your Belongings

When camping my thoughts drifted to “belongings”, since we had so little of them for two weeks.

I hate being surrounded by stuff, so when we moved into a house from an apartment I thought that I was finally free. Our apartment wasn’t huge—it had one bedroom, a small bathroom, and it was our first place so naturally we filled it up pretty quickly.

Most of that was us wanting the apartment to feel like home, and both Sara and I figured that the best way to do that was to buy a bunch of art that we liked, buy dishes, buy knick knacks and a bunch of other stuff to fill the space.

It filled the space all right. Pretty soon we had more stuff than we knew what to do with. Once we had a steady income coming in both of us just started buying whatever we wanted since we had the money to do that, but the problem was that we never got rid of anything. Eventually we started putting stuff wherever it would fit, and for a long time I thought we were just kind of messy and that’s why we had stuff all over the place.

When we moved out I finally realized what was happening: There was nowhere to put all the stuff we had acquired. The closets were full, the cupboards were full, and every shelf, drawer and surface space had something on it or in it. We literally couldn’t have put everything away because there wasn’t the space to do it.

That brings us to the house. We moved from the one bedroom apartment to a three bedroom house, and again the thought was that it was a little too empty and didn’t feel quite like home, so we started to fill it up; but this went the same way it did at the apartment. At first it was just a few decorations to make it feel a little less empty, but after about a year it was starting to get full. Now, as I write this, I have a closet overflowing with stuff beside me and again, every surface I can see is covered with stuff.

I know we’re not the only ones who do this or have this problem, but I feel like a lot of it is just mindlessly acquiring stuff. It’s amazing what you get caught up in when you go to a store. That urge to buy something new, something more in fashion, or slightly more useful (So you think) is overwhelming while you’re there. At the time you think, ‘Hey, I work hard, I deserve a new _______!” and maybe you do deserve it. But you don’t need it, and you probably only really want it when you’re standing in the store looking at the new version of whatever it is you already have.
Which is to say that you don’t really want it at all until you see it. You know the saying “You don’t know what you’re missing.”? It’s true, and it’s a good thing. Because when you do end up knowing what you’re missing, you end up spending all your money on these ‘gaps’ you identified in your life—gaps that weren’t there until you saw a bunch of commercials or walked through the mall.

And if you’re like us and you get sentimental or you don’t like getting rid of stuff that’s perfectly functional, you end up with a ton more than you need or use. We’re trying to dig our way out of all this stuff buy actively thinking about what we buy instead of immediately justifying it, and trying to go through all the stuff we already have and get rid of what we don’t need, but it’s tough. Just be aware of your buying habits, because it’s amazing what you’ll justify when you have that sparkling new thing in front of you and an ad campaign to go along with it, implying how much happier you’ll be once you buy it.




























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