How Materialism Can Kill Your Dreams

The Notorious B.I.G. said “More money, more problems.” Today I’m putting a spin on it and saying, “More stuff, more problems.”  Sunday, when I received 4 “thumbs up” on Facebook after posting this as my status: We hang on to so much stuff we don’t need, and when you think about it, it’s holding you down, back, and prisoner. I knew I had hit a nerve.

When I tell people how I moved to New York with only two suitcases and a smile, most people first say: “Wow, I could never be that brave.” And then the next sentiment usually goes something like: ” I don’t know how you did it; I couldn’t leave all of my stuff.

Yes you can x 2.

I really don’t like to own more than a car full of possessions, but  I did not always think this way. I too was brainwashed, I thought bigger equals better, and better equals more, more, more!

Until I hit my own “stuff-related meltdown”. Flashback to December of 2007. I had just been offered an internship at a national mag based in Pennsylvania. I’m not the U-haul type, so I decided that I would drive my Corolla from TN to PA.  I knew all of my stuff couldn’t come with me ( the sofa, the dinning table, ect.), but what I did not realize was how much excess stuff I had collected in the six months that I lived in my first apartment after college. It was my first time living on my own, so you know I had to pimp the APT out! I bought cute martini glasses for the cute hutch in my kitchen, curtains, hell, I even bought plastic flowers to put in my shower ( gotta love a little ambiance). My apartment was too cute.

So cute and so full of too much  stuff.

I didn’t realize just how much I had accumulated until after dropping off a load of stuff at my Dad’s house, I faced at least three car loads more in my apartment. I damn near cried from the frustration of having to throw away/give away so much stuff that I paid MY hard-earned money for. . It was so bad that moments before I drove off to PA, I was still dragging bags to the garbage can.  I promised myself that I would never go through that again.

But, as I’m writing this as I am deciding if I should toss out the Vanilla Bath Bomb I got from Lush, but will probably never, ever use (it’s NYC: taking a relaxing bath when you live with a gazillion other people just ain’t cool, buddy).  But I’m having a hard time parting with it. Why?  Because I paid for it. And wasting things that you paid for isn’t the way I was raised.

And that’s where the epiphany comes in: Just don’t buy it in the first place. What would your life be like if you decided not to buy one more pair of shoes?  Would you be one step closer to realizing your dream of “insert dream that has been on the back burner here”.

These days when I see a cute pair of shoes, or even a fly pair of earrings (I love accessories) I ask myself, would I rather have these earrings, or put this money toward a plane ticket to somewhere cool?

I’ll let you guess which one I chose.

We are taught from an early age that having lots o’ stuff equals success. And that’s wrong. I think being successful is more closely aligned with feeling self fulfilled. Success is finding out your purpose and using it to make the world a better place in some way. Success is not letting material things define who you are, and what you do.

Are you a minimalist in the making? What’s you strategy for getting rid of crap you don’t need?

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  1. #1 by gab on January 25, 2011 - 11:17 am

    i keep a goodwill basket and when i wash clothes or clean up i ask myself do i love this item if not i throw it in the donation basket…i am a work in progress but getting so much better with my baby hoarder tendencies.

  2. #2 by Yogi on January 27, 2011 - 2:07 pm

    I just gave a way a lot of clothes & bags…I normally do this every year. Clothes, shoes, bags, & jewelry are the things I have in excess. But I always give away with my spring cleaning just to make room for the next load…I didn’t buy that much last year though….I did put myself on restriction…but I may want to put myself on a jewelry restriction! I can’t walk past cute $1 earrings without getting them….and I have over 100 pair I’m sure….now I’m loading up on rings…ha! That $5 I just spent yesterday on a nice pair of earrings and a ring could have gone to my “get macbook pro” fund….but my bday is next weekend….I have to look cute! ha! We are all a work in progress…..:-D

  3. #3 by Mel on January 31, 2011 - 3:34 pm

    Great story Amber J! Stuff definitely becomes a super burden when it’s keeping you from doing what you really want to do. If I haven’t used crap once in a month’s span, it’s going in the trash or to the local donation center ASAP. It’s hard at first, but soon the purging becomes more natural. Also, when you’re not buying a lot of new crap, the process is a breeze. Cheers!

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