We live in a materialistic world, which is always shouting, “Buy this! Buy that!” While it can be tempting to get that new gadget or piece of clothing right now, the question has to be asked, “Is there room in my life for that?” This extends to much more than just things you buy, but anything you invest your time, talents and totality of emotions in. It could be a new relationship, a new course, a new job, a social network or an app on your phone. It could even be a decision to have a child.
That thing you think you want, does it actually fit your life? Is it a good time to have it? Life is a bit like a suitcase; there’s only so much you can fit in it. Everything in your life takes up room, and adding that new thing may mean you don’t have space for what’s really important to you. Let me give you some examples from my own life.
Life is a bit like a suitcase; there’s only so much you can fit in it.
In my family, collecting things is the norm. Growing up, I was encouraged to have something I loved which I collected. At one stage it was barbies, another time everything tiger, then everything pink, everything turquoise, everything The Little Mermaid, all the books of the series I loved, and one that still continues is jewellery. Not expensive jewellery mind you (like diamonds and gold), but fashion jewellery. I have a lot of pieces. My Mum made me a board where I hang my earrings on. I also have some hooks on my bookcase for necklaces, and to tell you the truth, they are so overcrowded that if you move a necklace slightly, several can fall off. I wouldn’t necessarily say I have a problem. However, recently I went through my pieces and donated some to the Salvos. I also asked myself if I need any more? When I visit the shop and see what’s new I have to ask myself – will I really use this? Cause otherwise I will just end up storing it. I thought about selling some more fancy pieces online but wondered if I had the time for that? That would require I photograph, list and post items, with quite a few detailed steps in between. Then I also considered my birthday was coming up, and with people knowing that I love jewellery, I may get even more pieces – that I may not even like or wear.
Sometimes more equals more things you have to get rid of. Sometimes more equals more clutter, more mess and more stress.
As much as I love gifts, I decided to let people know that I just requested their presence for my birthday rather than presents. If people still wanted to get me something I suggested they give to one of my favourite charities. I don’t know if anyone did that or not. I just know that I have so much and that not everything I receive will add to my life, but may subtract. Sometimes more equals more things you have to get rid of. Sometimes more equals more clutter, more mess and more stress. My friend living in Africa, on the other hand, shares with me how some of the people she helps burst into tears when they receive a bag of food valued at $4. They’ve never received that much in their life. It would definitely be a blessing to give to people like that than to keep wanting more for myself. I’m not saying that I should never have anything nice. No. I don’t want you to feel guilty about what you have. I’m not summarising by saying give everything to the poor or a charity. But if you get that new item in your life, is there really room for it? If I had thought more about the jewellery I bought, I wouldn’t be in the predicament now where I have to get rid of some. I would have saved myself some time and effort. It’s also true that in many cases that money could have been better spent. If I wanted to give to a cause of my choosing, I could have more easily.
Let’s look at another example. I was having dinner with my sisters recently and one of them suggested I get the Kim Kardashion: Hollywood app. Now, I’m actually a sucker for all things Kardashian. I’ve never watched the show, but I’ve followed them on social media and in magazines. However knowing that I can also easily waste a lot of times on games, I usually avoid having any. But I didn’t offer any resistance to my sister’s request like it was the excuse I needed to get started. I downloaded it straight away and started playing. I played it for a couple of weeks and was spending copious amounts of time on it. I even considered spending real money to progress in the game but stopped myself. I discovered the app makes over $70 000 a day and it’s also a known fact company’s hire psychologists to help make games even more addictive (and, overall, increase their bottom line). That’s not what really deterred me. More the fact that I had a lot to do and it was distracting me from important things. I didn’t want a lack of progress in life to be due to a lack of self-control in playing a game. I’m not against games entirely, but I personally didn’t have room to keep it in my life so I deleted it one morning. But it hasn’t always been easy to rid myself of other apps or accounts that are equally as time-consuming or addictive. Not that I want to make myself feel guilty, but if it’s not adding value then it has to go (easier said than done many times). Value can be in the form of the fun and enjoyment you get out of something, but as my brother-in-law recently advised, once it no longer becomes fun, you have to stop and assess its place in your life.
Another thing that made me think recently, was my purchase of an acrylic make-up box. I thought it was a great idea. Not only did they look stylish, but it would organise all my make-up, which at that time was sprawled across the bathroom counter, on my desk, in boxes and spread out all over the place. It wasn’t cheap, but I really wanted one and after desiring one for quite some time, I ordered one online one night. However, when I received it, this is what I found – it needs maintaining and requires a significant amount of my time; time I don’t necessarily have. What, you ask? Shouldn’t it make things easier for me? Well actually, I’m a bit of a perfectionist and here’s how it takes up my time… I can’t put something in my nice shiny, clear acrylic box unless I first clean it after use. So let’s say I do my make-up one day, I take out foundation, powder, eyeliner, lipstick, lipliner, mascara etc etc. And then in the process of doing my make-up I may get some product on the outside of the containers. I don’t want to put it back and dirty up my expensive box. But, I usually don’t have time to clean it straight after doing my make-up, so this make-up now goes onto my desk until I have time to clean it and put it back. Then my desk ends up being cluttered until I make time to address it. Having the make-up box actually added routines I don’t have time for and made my life a little bit more stressful. I found myself wearing make-up less just because the routine was so damn time-consuming. Initially, I also found myself buying more make-up to fill up the box, stuff I didn’t really need and haven’t even worn yet. So this make-up box ended up taking up space in my life I didn’t have. It looked nice, I wanted it, thought it would be useful, but it ended up being quite demanding.
Not everything that is free has a place in your life. Sometimes free actually costs you something.
I also had people giving me make-up, skin care and hair care products they didn’t use or want any more. I would happily accept items, only to have them clutter up my bathroom counter and for me to barely use them. I had to throw out some of these products or find room for them elsewhere. I can’t really donate these items to charity because of safety and hygiene reasons. It’s also a hassle to arrange giving them away to someone else, so I may end up throwing more. If I had really thought about it beforehand though, I could have said “no thanks” to whoever was offering me something. Not everything that is free has a place in your life. Sometimes free actually costs you something. Sometimes you will only use something if you purchase it yourself and you really want or need it. If you don’t need it, then it’s probably a waste of your time. You usually don’t need multiple products that do the same thing. One bottle is enough and when it runs out, that’s when you can get another. Otherwise, you’ll have a clutter problem.
There are so many more examples I can think of. Like that time I asked Mum for new curtains for Christmas. Eight months later I still haven’t put them up. That makes me wonder if I really needed them or had space for them in my life. I haven’t wanted to put in the effort to replace what’s currently there. It requires fixing the curtain rod (which is coming off the wall) , then removing the current curtains and disposing of the old disintegrating lace ones, but washing and storing the main ones which are still okay (or maybe donating to an op shop). It also requires cleaning any cobwebs off the wall / window so the new ones don’t get dirty. Then I have to actually hang up the new ones. Now if I was really perfect it may also include washing and ironing to get out any folds after being packaged, although I am not too sure if the material they are made of could even survive that. Basically, I wanted new curtains but without the work. Hopefully, I will find a quiet time to organise that all soon. Maybe if I bought them myself when I really wanted them, I would have put them up already (sorry Mum). Now the curtains are in my cupboard waiting for that opportune moment (I wonder when that will be, LOL). Maybe a future mate could surprise me by doing it for me! LOL, I wish!
On that note, another thing that I may not have room for in my life right now is the romantic relationship and children I desire so much. I really want to be a wife and mother, but I have to ask myself if I’m ready for that. It requires a lot of sacrifice. Cooking, cleaning, driving kids around, taking kids to medical appointments, struggling through sleep deprivation etc while trying to balance all the areas of life – work, study, family responsibilities, social activities etc (if you even have time to be social, LOL). That’s only a few things I’ve mentioned. At the moment, I’m still learning to drive and it’s taking me quite some time. I’m not exactly ready to start driving kids to school, soccer practice, the doctor’s etc while juggling my career and goals for self-improvement. I’m still trying to build my life. I wonder how long it will take me? Eek. It’s almost depressing. One thing I know though, that even if this isn’t the time in my life for that, I’m working towards it. Even if there isn’t room in my life right now, I will make the room by getting some things out of the way while I am still single and able. I’ll keep working towards my progress. You can always unpack some items from life’s suitcase to add more. You’ll find at different stages you’ll need different things. Right now learning to drive takes up a lot of room, but one day soon it will become like second nature. I’ll have room for the new things I want later.
You can always unpack some items from life’s suitcase to add more.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of things that I have brought into my life over the years that I need to sort through now. Lots of boxes on top of my cupboards, drawers filled with stuff, a bookcase beaming with belongings. I gradually need to go through all of this and it’s a lot of work. I could have saved myself some of this work by asking more questions before bringing this stuff in. I could have regrets now, but I will use my experience to question any new thing I bring into my life, and hopefully it will help you too. Do I really have room for that? Do you? See if asking this question helps simplify things for you. Sometimes you may find the answer to be, “ain’t nobody got room fo dat” (LOL). I’d like to continue writing on this topic more in the future, including working out what’s most important and how to make room for that. Meanwhile, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.