recently I noticed I have quite a strange habit: I like to do back-ups and usually play it safe.
- When I buy a new dress or a new pair of shoes, I keep it in the closet sometimes even a year until I wear it (if ever!), because I want to “save it” for special occassions.
- When I go grocery shopping, I buy delicions fruit or food that I then save for later. It so often happens that it rottens before I finally eat it, or I eat it when it’s already expired.
- I eat more than I really need. You know, in case I might get hungry and won’t be able to have a meal then. This never happens, of course.
- I spend so much time for preparation, that I forget to enjoy the ride as the preparation stage should long be over.
- In the library, I take so many books, but only read a few of them.
- When doing research, I save so many articles, print it and save it for later, and often it’s too late and they’re already outdated to cite, when I finally decide to use it.
- In the morning as I dress, I pick the second best clothes, because I don’t want to wear out the best ones.
- When eating watermelon, I set the best pieces aside for later. It so often happens that I’m already full before I can have it. So somebody else has it. It makes me question my sanity.
Quantity over quality. Saving for later.
Saving for what exactly? For when? For whom? What’s this nonsense about? It is nonsense, I admit it. And on the other hand it is this sense of playing it safe and to back up everything and save it for later. What this later means exactly, is secondary. You might want to think it’s a matter of prudence and accountability. It might well be. But the thing is, it doesn’t bring much joy. The best preserved dresses I kept safely are today not interesting anymore, because I’ve changed my style or size. The carefully kept crystal glasses no one is supposed to touch, lie bored and forgotten behind the cupboard window and they can’t fulfil their true purpose. My new sneakers are lonely, because I’m stil wearing the old ones, hence risking joint pain.
While thinking about it today, it made me realize that what I’m doing is nothing but cowardice. Fear to step out, fear to live, fear to dare. Why do I have to buy extras? Why do I pick the second best? Why am I constantly postponing the pleasure? I don’t really have an answer, but I’m certain it doesn’t bring me much satisfaction. Only a mere sense of false security.
So I’m gradually changing the habit:
- I’m not buying on stock anymore. Whether it comes to office material, food, gas or clothes. Even if there are sales or discounts. The stores are not going to run out of goods like they used to in socialism. Everything is right there, available at all times.
- I’ve emptied my closet and only kept the pieces which I absolutely adore and which fit me perfectly. I donated or sold the rest. Used to have three wardrobes before. Now I only have one and in this one I only keep the clothes relevant for the season. Luckily I live in a large house that allows keeping things in the attic. Maybe that was another contribution that allowed me to save so much 🙂
- I try not to live in the past or in the future. True, I might not have all the resources available yet and true, timing will never be right. And this is so, no matter how long I wait, prepare or save.
- The times of scarce material goods and resources are long gone. Today we struggle with having too much, not too little. My grandmother lived in times where there was nothing, so she had to save her entire life. But when I go into her fridge for a snack, there isn’t any. She simply doesn’t keep the things she doesn’t need or use. I wish I could become like her.
I’ve been practising this new habit for a couple of weeks now. Since I’m very busy with our EU project and finishing my research, this requires a lot of discipline and clarity in what I do. This habit of using what I have and not saving it for later, tremendously helped me gain both. Further, I’m witnessing increased level of satisfaction when I go grocery shopping or when I open my wardrobe. Cluttering, keeping things for later or cutting back using it, apparently isn’t the right strategy for me. It is in my nature to be a minimalist. But now I realized minimalism isn’t correlated with second best or not affording to use the best you have. It is exactly the opposite: doing more with less, but doing that with carefully selected means. Whether it be behaviour, sleeping habits, food, books or clothes.
My lesson hence goes like that: “Use what you have. Not just own it. Use it and don’t save it. If you don’t use it, get rid of it. The consequence? The results …”
It’s hard. But I’m loving it!