Today I’m honored to welcome a guest post from my friend and fellow Moody Collective author, Allison Vesterfelt. She is an amazing, honest, authentic writer. Read this post below and you’ll see what I mean.
When I was in my 20’s, I was constantly lamenting the fact that I didn’t have much stuff.
I had no solid plan. No husband. No money. No nice furniture. No experience. And really no idea what I was doing.
The things I did have, I didn’t really want.
I had a job, which I tried really hard to be thankful for, but most days it just bummed me out. I had a pile of school debt breathing down my neck (the only real reason I kept going to my job). I had hand-me-down furniture, none of which matched or looked that good in my house, and I always planned to replace someday with something nicer and better (I just had to keep going to that job).
And I had thoughts and dreams and ideas about how I wished my life was, which always seemed to make me feel restless in the life I was actually living.
I hated not having access to the resources I wanted and needed.
I couldn’t wait to “grow up” and have more stuff.
But what if having less is actually an advantage?
A few years ago I decided to do something crazy. Armed with a lifelong dream to write a book, and just enough gumption (and naiveté) to think I could make it happen, I decided to quit my full-time job, put my loans into deferment, sell all of my stuff and go on a road trip to visit all 50 states. The plan was to keep a blog while I traveled and eventually turn that material into a book.
But something really surprising happened while I prepared to leave for my trip.
I realized I had a lot of stuff.
It’s funny, because my primary complaint in life was that I didn’t have enough stuff to enjoy the life I always wanted, but when it really came down to it, putting all my stuff in boxes made me realize I had everything I needed, and then some.
In fact, extra stuff wasn’t helping me. It was getting in my way.
In this sense, 20-somethings actually have a distinct life advantage.
Photo by Tom Godber – Creative Commons
Chances are, if you’re in your twenties, you don’t have much stuff. Have you ever thought about how that might be a good thing? You might not have a brand new Pottery Barn couch that fits perfectly in your living room — but that means your feelings probably wouldn’t be hurt if you had to get rid of the hand-me-down one.
Maybe your job feels less-than-ideal. Have you ever thought that might work in your favor?
What better time at least dream about trying something new?
Maybe you don’t have a spouse or kids yet, and you’re wondering when on earth it will be your turn. Have you ever considered this could be an ideal season for chasing what really matters to you?
What do you want your life to look like?
How does your time and your budget reflect what’s really important to you?
There has never been a better time for you to dream and explore and experiment and build and learn what kinds of things you want to keep and treasure forever, and what kinds of things would be better left behind.
I do have one caution, based on my experience.
Just because you don’t have many physical possessions doesn’t mean you aren’t attached to things. For me, the tangible act of getting rid of physical stuff uncovered other attachments I didn’t realize I had, some of them practical, some more emotional. But all of them were holding me back just the same.
After I had taken every last box to Goodwill, and stowed a load of things in my parents’ garage, and put everything else I owned into the trunk and backseat of my Subaru, I realized there were still attachments holding me back from chasing my dream and growing into the best version of myself.
Here are a few that come to mind:
- A fear of failure
- A sense that I was “doing it wrong” (life)
- A deeply held insecurity about how I looked
- A fear of what others would think or say about me (my reputation)
- A concern my book would suck
When I began clearing my physical space I started to see the other attachments that were holding me back, despite the fact my physical possessions were limited.
In order to move forward, I had to let them go.
The stuff we own says a lot about what’s really important to us.
This was a hard conclusion for me to come to, especially in my twenties, because when I looked around my life (especially after I sold everything) it felt sort of empty. What was important to me? I would wonder to myself. What made my life matter?
All that open space felt scary.
But it was the best thing that could have happened to me.
It was the only way I could discover the direction I wanted to go; and clear out the clutter that was getting in my way.
For more of my story, check out my book Packing Light: Thoughts on Living Life With Less Baggage, which can be found wherever books or sold.
I’d love to hear your thoughts below in the comments:
What do you really want out of life? What’s holding you back?
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