Personal Stories

Sitting in Boxes

When I started to engage myself more with how I can change my current life situation in order to spend more time by the sea and doing the things I really love, I had probably least expected that only a few months later half of the world would be in a pandemic-related shutdown of social life. Who would have thought that my journey to more freedom would begin with curfews and stay-at-home orders? All my intentions seem pretty ridiculous and absurd from the current perspective and every week longer in domestic isolation makes the fragile construct of my plan crumble a little bit further. I’m questioning my plans not because I feel miserable, but because I do not. Unlike many other people I have a safe job with a secure income and don’t have to worry about financial or other setbacks. Therefore, the one fundamental question which I never thought would arise in such an early stage of my proposition is, if it is really worth it giving up all these securities just to turn a passion into a central point of my life? But I stay positive, put my doubts aside, and instead concentrate on something more tangible.

Since I’m spending more time at home than ever before, I decided it was time to take a closer look at the world of things around me.

The first time I realized that I had accumulated way too much stuff was when I moved into a bigger apartment last year. I was shocked that, despite having more space, there wasn’t enough space to fit all the things I moved with me. But instead of looking closer into the problem, I did what seemed to be the most obvious solution: buying more storage solutions to put the stuff in. Later I realized how shortsighted this approach was and I set to work to get every single item out of its box, evaluate it, and decide if it is necessary or worth keeping.

Facing so openly the results of my consumption behavior made me both angry and sad in terms of how blind I was when it came to buying things, and how accomplished my skills were to make it look like I owned less stuff than I actually did. But it is how it is and what better chance is there to get rid of all the unnecessary stuff than giving up a permanent residence and therefore are forced to think about what things you really need.

So, when I started to open up all the cabinets and all the drawers and all the boxes, more and more things came to light. Things that I had carried with me for years, things that I had never used, and things that I had already forgotten were there, and the longer I sat amidst all the stuff I had now finally pulled out of every corner of my apartment, the more it felt like I was sitting in a box full of boxes.

Confronted by the sheer amount of my personal stuff I instantly knew I had to get rid of a huge percentage of it to carry on with my plan. Surprisingly, many things ultimately had no value to me and the initial thoughts that it would be hard to part with so many things were totally unjustified. It was more like I could slowly feel the weight being taken off my chest by every whatsoever tiny thing I got rid of. It quickly became very clear that this journey isn’t just about the urge to live closer to the sea, it is about stepping out of the box constructed by society’s expectations of behavior and therefore breaking free from acquiring and owning unnecessary things.

But I didn’t come to that conclusion just overnight. When my plans became more substantial by the end of last year, one of the first things I knew I had to do was saving money. The most obvious thing to start with was to stop buying, and that’s what I did. I literally stopped buying anything non-essential, and after a while, I noticed that it didn’t cut down on one thing in my everyday life. The sad thing is that I knew before that I was influenced by the consumerist society, but became too lazy to question my behavior. Too lazy to question where things came from, too lazy to question what use things have, and too lazy to evaluate which things I really needed. Now that I’m more conscious of what I buy it’s a constant fight of what I want against what I actually need. It’s certainly not easy to break free from manifested behavior patterns but the fight is worth it. Not only do I save a lot of my money, it also boosts my self-confidence to know that I’m no longer a part of the unreflecting consumer society around me. Things I cared for so long, like what I wear and what my apartment looks like, are gone, and hopefully will never come back.

No matter where this journey takes me and whether it will be a success, the changes that have already arisen from the incentive to change something are definitely worth it.