My journey to less - letting go of stuff and living lighter

It all started in january this year, 2014. I moved in with my boyfriend after living in the same 20 square meter studio for more than four years. And while 20 square meters does not sound like a lot of space, believe me, I used every little bit of it.

See? All cluttered up. There was my bed, a dressoir, a buffet cabinet, a bedside table/dressoir and a huge closet. 2.30 meters tall and 1 meter wide, it held all my clothing and shoes as well as my purses. I owned an incredible amount of books, CDs, vinyls, cooking supplies and dishware along with loads of alcohol because I enjoy developing new cocktails. Not to forget the 10 binders with paperwork one has to keep. Think financial stuff, taxes, insurance documents, ... Once again, all this was stuffed into 20 square meters. To be fair, the place did not feel all that crowded and there was enough space left to host dinner parties for up to eight people which I did on a regular basis.
The very first time it dawned on me that I may have more than I needed was in fact when I moved at the beginning of the year. Because I inherited some very old dishware and glasses from my grandparents, I decided to move those earlier than the rest so they will not get damaged on moving day. My poor boyfriend then had to carry five boxes with glassware and dishes up to our third-floor apartment. But this was not all. In the weeks before the actual move, I also brought bits and pieces of my belongings with me whenever we spend the weekend at his place. It was then that I realized how many CDs I actually own because I could barely carry them. The same was true for DVDs. And when I desperately gazed at the amount of books I owned, something inside of me snapped.
This was ridiculous. At that point I was afraid that the moving van I rented may not be enough. How could that be? I was living in a small space. Where did all that stuff come from? While a tiny part of me was a little bit proud having concealed my stuff-pile from the world so efficiently, the bigger part of my brain was in utter horror. The idea of packing it all up, carrying it down the stairs at my place, up the stairs at the new place and, last but not least, unpacking everything was almost too much for me. So I stopped mindlessly packing up things because I owned them and started questioning the items. Do I really need this? Do I still use this? Is this thing still in good, usable condition? Would I miss it if it was gone?
Seven garbage bags and a few trips to the thrift store later, this is what I had to move plus some pieces of furniture like my closet and the buffet cabinet:

This was more like it. Still, on moving day the rental van was quite full. Not as full as I had imagined, but I still owned and impressive amount of things. But something had changed in me. I was enthusiastic about the idea of getting rid of things I do not need or use anymore. Now that I had started, I discovered areas that still needed to be worked on. So I kept going. In the last five months, I weeded through my CD and DVD collection, eliminating about 80% of them. I kept some CDs I have some sentimental attachment to and my favourite DVDs. To be honest, I would like to eliminate CDs completely because we mainly listen to music online, but the sentimental part of me is not yet ready for this step. And that is alright, too. I do not want to punish or deprive myself, I want to feel better.  And feeling better I do. With every item I gave away, I felt the apartment becoming more airy and spacious. What's more, I felt lighter. When I look at my buffet cabinet now, I know that it is filled with items I cherish and use. When we sit in our living room, we can easily get to our books or CDs, vases and glasses because the cabinets are not filled to the brim with clutter.

From a logistic point of view, owning less makes it easy to keep the house tidy. We usually clean in the weekend, but hated the idea of being stuck with this chore while we could be outdoors instead. Now, it takes us about an hour to clean all 60 square meters of the apartment. Most surfaces are clean, there is barely any knick-knack standing around which makes it easy to maintain.

Sounds good, right? Surrounding yourself with only those things you really love and having more free time made a huge impact on our happiness. But we are not done yet. Or well, I am not done yet. After all this decluttering, there was still one area in the house I did not touch. The sight of it just made me so desperate I did not know where to start. The idea of culling the wrong this was intimidating. The project was too big to complete easily. Yes, I am talking about my closet. This week I finally had the guts to do it. But that is another story....

0