Tomorrow I move out of my apartment, with all my worldly possessions squeezed perfectly into one backpack.
This is the second time I’ve gone through selling or giving away everything I own. The last time was before I departed for my 3 month trip through Europe with Robert, but even that time we still kept a few homewares. We knew we’d be coming back to Australia for at least a year after the trip, so it would be a hassle to collect those appliances and utensils all over again.
But this time, we’re going the whole hog.
Aside from a few small sentimental items that we’re leaving at our parents’ places, anything that doesn’t fit in our backpacks is gone. Everything that hasn’t sold will be given away to charity, or charitably left for our housemates (both poor uni students) to claim as their own.
The journey from having everything to having nothing has been an emotional rollercoaster, but I’ve stepped off the ride a wiser person, equipped with a knowledge and understanding of material possessions that I definitely did not have before.
Whether you are taking off for travels, moving house, or just want to reduce the copious amounts of stuff you have – here’s why I think you should try selling everything you own at least once in your life.
Some of the ‘stuff’ we’d gathered over the past few years.
Most of us start collecting material possessions from day one. As a child you receive birthday presents and toys, then as a teen you gather CDs and furniture for your room. Once you move out of home, that money you’ve started earning from having a job gets converted into kitchenware, artworks, new shoes or fancy electronic devices.
And way later when the opportunity comes along to give all of it up, you stand back and realise your home is overflowing with items collected slowly over [insert your age here] years.
The thought of letting it all go is terrifying. Some of these items have been a part of your life for years. You’ve used them every day, or you’ve packed them safely in a cupboard just in case you get use of them somewhere down the track. If you don’t have these things anymore, what will happen if you then have need of them later?
Well, nothing, actually.
Attempting to fit all my worldy possessions into a backpack.
It’s funny how attached we become to things we don’t need. Once you get past the idea of turning your life upside down by getting rid of everything you own, you realise how futile it was to keep it all. You think about how you held on to that set of china teacups for 10 years without ever using them, and what a waste of space they were.
You find that the only reason you were holding on to possessions was sentimental, and once you finally cut that connection with the couch you’ve sat on every day for the past 5 years or the desk you’ve used to pile years of documents on, you can see that everything is replaceable. It doesn’t matter that you don’t have a couch now, because if you decide you need one in the distant future, you can just buy one.
And the possessions that you do end buying down the track tend to be temporary. No longer do you form a mental connection with everything you buy, because now you know that you don’t need it. You don’t have to have the best new leather couch or the most expensive brand appliances, because second-hand stuff will do the trick just as nicely.
If you’ve been smart about selling your stuff, you’re left with a wad of money in your pocket – all of which you can now spend on an experience. And on top of that money you got from selling everything, you’re not spending as much now. Because you have no stuff replace or repair. You don’t have to pay insurance on your collection of things to ensure they don’t get damaged or stolen.
Our apartment after we sold everything. The TV and amp are owned by our housemates!
After the initial shock of being left with almost nothing wears off you realise hey, this is actually pretty good. The metaphorical weight of every possession has been lifted off your shoulders. Your mind has stopped thinking about all of the tasks your possessions would require. You’re free and able to do anything and go anywhere. The world is your oyster.
Selling everything you own changes you. It makes you realise that having a bunch of stuff is not actually important. It shows you that material possessions are not what make up who you are, and that it’s actually experiences and memories that make you happy.
It’s not an easy thing to do, but believe me – you’ll come out the other side a stronger and wiser person.