Everything I own, everything that’s important to me can fit into 1 suitcase. If I had to (God forbid) evacuate my house for any reason, I know exactly what I’d grab:
- A few hygiene essentials
- my iPhone
- just 1 camera (+ memory cards)
- pink Nike SB Dunk Low Elite trainers. (I mean, come on, it’s limited edition)
I don’t own many things. I refuse to spend money on things that don’t matter to me. And the result, I end up with very few things that I’d save in a fire – apart from my husband and pooch. But MJ will tell you that I wasn’t always this way.
I used to hoard a lot of crap; things I didn’t need and would sometimes even forget that I had. We used to have a nice house filled with nice things, we both had loads of gadgets and each had our own cars – all which was totally unnecessary. A little over two years ago I was forced to assess everything I own, and ask myself whether I absolutely needed this in my life, whether it was replaceable, and whether I needed to cart it with me halfway around the world. Most things I didn’t need. So when it was time to go, I ended up with a third of everything I actually own.
I always thought that the things I owned was somehow a reflection of who I am. Like I had built my entire identity on meaningless objects that were not unique in any way, shape or form. It was crazy. And parting with it was liberating.
Separating myself from all the stuff opened up some sort of blank canvas feeling – a chance to do it all over again. Except I didn’t really do that. I remember walking through the London shopping district, wandering aimlessly in and out of stores where nothing piqued my interest. Something was changing inside me, but I didn’t know exactly what it was.
I guess everything became a question of will I die if I didn’t have it?
I was living life on a very basic level, owning just the bare necessities and I liked how carefree it made me feel. I started to question why I even wanted these things in the first place if it made no difference to my life.
So I started to focus my energy on other things, like passions and interests. I wanted to invest in things that would make me feel alive again, and the one thing that always makes me feel alive is experiencing something for the first time. I took up new hobbies, learned new skills, and renewed my interest in myself. This translated into skateboarding lessons, trips overseas and extra iCloud storage – to store my memories and experiences. At Advertising Week Europe, I listened to a guy host a talk on happiness. He introduced himself on stage as the happiness coach – even though he is an award-winning author and journalist. He spoke about the different sources of how we gain happiness. And how buying material goods like gadgets, cars, fancy home entertainment systems, designer clothes, are all things that provide true happiness. That’s why we call it retail therapy. The problem with this type of happiness is that no matter how pure it feels; it is also fleeting. And that cemented my theory even more: experiences over things.
I mean, that’s the whole reason why I moved here – to experience things again for the first time. My life back home had become boring and predictable and that’s why I decided to shake things up and start over with life, and with work. I had always promised myself that as soon as it would become boring, I would shake it up again. Because we are not trees; we are not rooted in one place. And if you start to live this way, everything in this modern world feels temporary.
Life is temporary, and so are material things. I would rather invest in experiences, because unlike things, experiences are hard to replace and the happiness that comes from it stays with you forever.