3 min read

I am not my stuff - or am I?

I have recently read (after being pointed to it multiple times by various blogs) a very interesting article in the Washington Post. The article is about a man who compulsively hoarded items and found it difficult to throw anything out, to the point where items took over his life. He tried his best to fight this compulsion and ultimately, failed.

His mantra, when he fought his compulsion, was "I am not my stuff".

Now, I am not that bad. I like my stuff, but I don't have that much. I pile things up, but unpile and repile frequently. I guess it's mainly because it's impractical for me to own too much: it is expensive to buy stuff that I don't need, also, my apartment is very small and I like my living space more than my stuff, and above all stuff is an anchor that ties you to a place where your stuff is - it limits my freedom. But I can't say for sure I am not my stuff.

I never had much as a kid. The things that surrounded me were frequently hand-me-downs or really belonged to my parents who kindly granted me the use of them. I had some gifts that did belong to me but I would rarely receive them and rarely they would be things that I really wanted. I have taken very few possessions with me when I left Poland and I don't miss much out of them. I would like to claim some of them back out of sentiment, but they carry too much of an emotional baggage for me too want to have them with me at all times. I have cut my ties to the person I was back then, and they will remain cut for the time being... until I'm ready to face my past full on.

When I did move I started to acquire my own stuff. I am attached to almost every piece of clutter and non clutter I own. I have about 1000 euro worth of art and craft supplies that I rarely use, most of the time I use just pens and pencils, but I have everything from colour pencils, trough collection of watercolours, pastels, graphites, specialist paints, glitter and various tools. It's never going to be enough, just today I was looking at expanding my marker collection at an approximate cost of 300 euros - the only thing that stopped me from clicking "Buy" was the lack of funds. If I had the money I would get everything that tickles my fancy and every time I look at things online or in the shops I think of them as and extension of who I am. My very desire that draws me to one thing and not the other is a very integral part of me, like desire to learn, desire to express myself, desire to better myself at all costs.

I also hoard files from the internet. Loads of them. Much more than I will ever use.

I'm sure that there is some neat explanation to why I am like this and if examined by a professional I would turn out to be deeply damaged - but who isn't? My stuff reflects my personality, my state of mind. I like to think that if I died suddenly a man would come to my house to look at my stuff and would immediately know what person I was. It is as if my stuff is a mirror of me, another mind that extends beyond my head. I wish I could just show people my stuff and they would immediately know who I am.

I guess it is a combination of the love of beautiful objects, frugality and self expression. Last few years I have neglected my need for self expression and the amount of stuff I had grew by 200%. Stuff compensates for all the things I haven't said and haven't expressed over many many months. But it's my stuff. It's me.

I have made a decision to rid myself of most of my stuff so that I could gain more freedom and order in my life. I went trough some documents today and through my artbox. I threw out some of the paperwork, but not even a half of it and I couldn't bring myself to toss anything from my artbox, even the things that I know I will probably not use within next year. I mean, I have oil pastels that I haven't used in 8 years - they're still good though.

I am my stuff. I need to change in order for my stuff to diminish. There is no other way.