Who am I without My Stuff?

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For the last few years, I have read about people who make it a challenge to live without things, exist with a certain number of worldly possessions, etc. I have never been interested in doing a challenge of that type without a very good reason. I haven’t had a good reason to date. However, I have been looking around at the things that I own and I realize that the amount is rapidly dwindling. I am almost afraid to count what I have left because I may discover that I am one of those people who are living with and using only a certain number of items on a daily basis.

As I make an effort to streamline my possessions in preparation for our upcoming changes, I have been thinking about stuff. If I don’t have anything, then who am I? Stuff defines us and tells the world who we think we are or what we want people to believe that we are. If I own nothing of interest to anyone, what will people think of me? How will they react to me? How will they interact with me?

I like to be around real people, people without pretensions or agendas. I try to be this person. I try to put forth an authentic face. It is why I wear my hair naturally, use natural self care products, feel no need to wear make-up, and on and on. I want people to see me. The real me. When I meet someone, I want them to see the essence of who I am, with no surprises later (“I didn’t know she was like that”). Maybe getting rid of all of the unnecessary things in life isn’t the way to achieve this. In fact, presenting your authentic self, in public and in private, means that you become vulnerable. You have nothing behind which to hide.

If I am in a social situation where the people have more luxury material possessions than I do, I can not sooth the discomfort by buying a higher priced item than they possess. I must sit with that discomfort and deal with it. If I am visiting the humongous home of someone, I can not comfort myself with the fact that my home has newer kitchen. I must be content with the fact that I am not a home owner.

Without anything to hide behind, I am forced to ask myself, who am I? What do I stand for? What am I doing for others? While on one hand, it is liberating to have no Things holding me back from whatever I choose to do, on the other having no Things holding me back forces a lot of introspection. I find that I am ready for the challenge.

Who are you without your stuff?

4 Comments on “Who am I without My Stuff?

  1. In the song Me and Bobby McGee, there’s the line “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” He thought it was BS. I see some truth to it. It makes me think of my perception of Catholic nuns. They all take a vow of poverty (which priests do not). Of course, they are beholden to the church, but there’s a lot of freedom in that they do not need to support a family the same way most laypeople do. That frees them to give themselves over to helping others. At least that’s my romantic, hippie notion. Anyway, I think it’s freeing to be unencumbered by material objects. I definitely have a long way to go because there are other members of the household that don’t exactly feel the same way, but I myself would feel comfortable walking away from most of the items in my house. There was a comic strip once that had the line in it “Stuff makes you sad.”

  2. We are preparing as well for changes. Downsizing is what it is called when you are my age. Whatever you call it, it comes the the same end. Less. I can’t believe all the stuff we have given away. Even my good China that I used about 5 times in 47 years went to my son and his wife. I don’t miss any of that stuff. Like you I am who I am. No extras. Life is so much simpler that way … Even if we don’t move.

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