In about a month, my family and I will have about 5 suitcases to our name, three one way flights, and two new careers.
It both excites and terrifies the living bejezus out of me.
Maybe I should backtrack a bit here. Let me tell you about a brief story leading up to all this.
In a nutshell, my husband and I have been living on and off in China for the past 8 years. We fell in love, got married and had our son here. But we decided that we are moving on, because it wasn’t a place we want to raise our child, and our long term goal is to be back in the US (If you’re really interested in this story, let me know and I’ve got a ton of blog posts in my drafts folder).
When we told friends and family we were moving back, almost everyone talked about how tough it would be. All of this had to do with stuff. Physical stuff. Funnily enough, nobody talked about the emotional aspects of moving.
So most of my thoughts of course revolved about how much stuff we’re lugging back. And when you’re faced with moving literally all of your possessions, there’s more of a sense of urgency.
Actually, luggage restrictions creates that sense of urgency too.
Both our work contracts give us a shipping allowance, but I’m going to admit that I hate shipping anything. I feel like it’s such a waste of money. That’s not to say I haven’t done that so far for this move, but I will avoid spending that money any way I can, even if it’s “free”.
Alright, back to the stuff.
Getting Rid of Stuff (aka I Soared as High as a Bird)
When I started paring down my possessions, I felt so free. I know it’s not a strange feeling to have, but it was for me. It felt like when I was getting rid of stuff, I gave myself permission to embrace the uncertainty that was to come, and let go of the past.
Now if you know anything about me, I am pretty adventurous. I’ve never shied away from putting myself in uncomfortable situations. So why was this different?
When I’m forced to face my possessions, I couldn’t run away from them. There was no shoving it in a closet, none of the words “I’ll get to it later” could be uttered. I HAVE to move it all out.
So when I physically touched each and every one of my things, I was faced with whether or not to keep it. This simple question had a life of its own. So each and every item I picked up, not only would I wonder if I should keep it, I would think about how much it cost, where I bought it, how I felt when around I’m the object and what my body would physically feel like if I got rid of it.
Note: This is a modified version of something called the KonMari method. You simply hold up an object and ask yourself “Does it spark joy?” If not you get rid of it. Check out the book that started helping me through the process of getting rid of stuff.
These internal conversations would last for days.
The One I Almost Couldn’t Get Rid Of
One particular item was my son’s coming home outfit. I could have easily kept it since it was something small. But the feeling of keeping it nagged me until I had to sit down, look and touch the outfit and ask myself why I was really keeping it.
I finally realized that I thought I wanted to keep it because “everyone” says you should. As in “oh, it’s your son’s first outfit! It’s got sentimental value” or “Oh, it’s your son’s first Christmas! Keep that ornament for him so he’ll remember it!”
You get the idea.
So I forced myself to really think whether or not getting rid of this outfit would leave me devastated. And the answer is no. Why would I forget the day and the moments where I put my son in the car seat and carried him out of the hospital? Or the moments where I cried out of joy when we first walked into the apartment?
I tossed that outfit into the donation pile and never looked back.
I’m still going through the things in our apartment, and questions keep cropping up. I’ve noticed a trend with all of them. Here are the common questions I keep asking myself, and the answers I give:
1. What if I might need this? Well, buy another one if the need arises in the future.
2.I paid so much money for this! Well sell it and get some of the money back.
3.But what if I can’t sell the item? Think about how much it costs to ship it back. Is it worth it?
Each and every time I face these sorts of questions, I realize most of these possessions are around because of security and fear.
I’m scared we won’t find a suitable place to live.
So the more I faced getting rid of stuff, the more I faced my fear. And the more I let go of those physical things, but more excited I got about my future.
And my future looks very uncertain. As in, I’m not sure where I’ll be financially in the next year or so. But I feel rich. I feel wealthy. I want money to give me a sense of security, and paring down my possessions has given me that. And it feels great.
Heck, I’m uprooting my life and leaving a comfortable career. I don’t even know if what I’m doing will be sustainable in the long run. But when has my life ever been comfortable, or safe?
Excuse me while I pack and get rid of more unnecessary stuff.
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