Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Experiences Instead of Stuff

Many things have happened in my life since I lasted posted. All of these things have lead to me making a paramount life decision. This decision was always something that I felt and knew but that I didn't necessarily intellectually accept until just recently. This fundamental life truth is that I would rather spend my time, money and energy accumulating amazing life experiences instead of stuff. I have always felt this way however I'm only now realizing what this actually means and will entail. Let me explain.

Ever since I can remember I have always felt out of place in this world in which we call our modern western society. I have never understood the motives, desires and attitudes of my peers. I have always been one to feel (and at times act) rebellious towards authority figures, peers/colleagues and our society. I never understood the desire of females my age to rush into a 'fairy tale wedding' with any old guy just so they could walk down the aisle in a princess dress and/or their desire to procreate as soon as possible. I also never wanted to be dependent on anyone else for my life and livelihood, especially my partner. I never understood why people make themselves miserable and sick working at a job they hate for a soulless corporation that could care less about them just so they can buy a bunch of stuff, move to the suburbs, buy a house, car and have 2.5 kids all while accumulating piles of debt that lock them into their soul-sucking jobs and keeps them chained to their debt and location-dependent. When I think about the future of our so-called adult lives, why does anyone want that, why does anyone do it? It just sounds so terrible to me and a never-ending cycle. Once we settle for the things that don't make us happy in our lives it becomes easier and easier to settle for other not so great situations like toxic relationships and social injustices (to name a few).

By accepting the status quo we feed into it and it will never change. I just never understood and still don't understand the appeal of living this average life just like everyone else. I think there are others who have felt and/or feel this way, however as we grow older the world beats you down and you may find that you start to question yourself because you can't see any alternatives...most of the people you know, meet, trust and even love live this way and/or strive to live this way. So somewhere along the line you give in, little by little and it chips away at your resolve and you get caught in the cycle. It's like a trap and it's very hard to escape because oftentimes your friends and family are your jailors.

One of the major symptoms of this 'modern society mentality' (aptly named by yours truly) is the consumerism pathology. This pathology is characterized by an obsessive compulsion to consume as witnessed by overspending, buying things that one does not need, spending money one does not have and in extreme cases hoarding. Consumerism can be thought of as an addiction in a similar manner to the way we describe addictions to gambling, sex and/or food to name a few. The compulsive shopper gets a high from a new purchase in an effort to fill an emotional void in their life and then finds themselves feeling emptier (& poorer) than before when the high quickly dissipates and they're off again chasing a new, stronger and better high than last time.

I know this pathology very well because I have succumbed to it in the past and I'm still firmly in its grasps. Earlier in my adult life I found myself lost, alone and damaged and instead of listening to myself and the universe I listened to society and made some colossal mistakes. I had lost my trust in myself because of mistakes I'd made that hurt myself and my loved ones so I thought I could make up for it by doing what I was told, but that didn't work out so well. In ignoring my own instincts and the signs from the universe, I set myself up to fail, which was the one thing I was so afraid of doing. I realize now that mistakes are inevitable and a natural part of life and especially important in our development and growth, which was a huge step forward for me. However, before I realized this fundamental life lesson I went through a depression that was fueled by compulsive spending.

So I'm here today feeling like my life is making a lot more sense and I think I'm figuring it out, slowly but surely, but I'm still living with the consequences of my previous actions. I am shackled by credit card debt and a student loan with not much to show for it and I find myself dependent on other people (my parents) to sustain myself. I could have a really negative outlook on the entire situation, which I have in the past, but instead I have chosen to see the positive in it. I'm slowly chipping away at my debt and living with my parents has given me the freedom to explore myself again and to truly figure out my life and calling. I will also have a chance to explore living more of the life that I've always wanted and that starts with becoming minimalist.

I realize that another part of being a minimalist is to appreciate what I already have, even if that's not much, instead of always wanting more and wanting what everyone else has. So a major goal that I would like to add to my summer purge challenge is the appreciation of what I already have. I have also been inspired lately by a few life-changing experiences and amazing new people who have entered my life that have all reinforced my own feelings and the messages from the universe that rich life experiences are way more important to me than a bunch of stuff that I barely use or look at and just gather dust. Therefore, I'm here today to re-devote myself to minimizing my life by purging my stuff so that I can eventually become a location-independent globe-trotter full to the brim of awesome memories! :)