July 16, 2016

I have reached peak stuff

I've unintentionally/intentionally sort of been on a spending detox since early June—partially because I've known for months that I was planning on resigning from my full-time job in July (more on that later), but also because it's summer and every year when I overspend on fun summer clothes, shoes, and accessories, I regret it, because, well, let's face it, by late September I'm back in boots and sweaters. Another, and perhaps the most important, reason I've seriously cut back on buying things is: I think I've reached peak stuff.

Remember this part of Up In The Air?

It goes something like this:
How much does your life weigh? Imagine for a second that you’re carrying a backpack. I want you to feel the straps on your shoulders. Feel ’em? Now I want you to pack it with all the stuff that you have in your life. You start with the little things. The things on shelves and in drawers, the knick-knacks, the collectibles. Feel the weight as that adds up. Then you start adding larger stuff, clothes, table-top appliances, lamps, linens, your TV.

The backpack should be getting pretty heavy now. And you go bigger. Your couch, bed, your kitchen table. Stuff it all in there. Your car, get it in there. Your home, whether it’s a studio apartment or a two bedroom house. I want you to stuff it all into that backpack. Now try to walk. It’s kind of hard, isn’t it? This is what we do to ourselves on a daily basis. We weigh ourselves down until we can’t even move. And make no mistake, moving is living.
I love that movie. And, whether or not it's a sign that I'm a secret sociopath or wannabe-hermit, I really identify with that character George Clooney plays in the film—even more the older I get.

There's an idea that I've been turning over in my mind for the past few weeks. I've been secretly calling it "The Freedom of 38." More on that later, too. But since 2016 rolled around, I've had a bad case of cabin fever. Maybe it's because I've hardly been able to travel at all this year, or I haven't had the creative outlet this year that I've been so lucky to have all throughout my career, or I'm just not satisfied with the current state of my life. It's probably all of those things, but right now, at this moment, all I want is as much intellectual and creative freedom as possible. I've never felt so strongly about anything career-related before; if I don't have freedom, if I don't get out of this box I'm in, I feel like I'll go crazy.

Somehow, freedom from spending on stuff has become symbolic in my own mind of discipline, disconnecting from a corporate culture, and maybe something having to do with temperance of, like, the lifestyle I lead, which I'm trying to re-approach in a quality-over-quantity way. Don't worry, I'm not doing anything extreme. I still bought a $32 mascara last week—I just didn't, like, on a whim buy the $2,000 handbag. For August I'm thinking about doing something so cliche I'll never say it out loud at a dinner party: spending money on experiences rather than things. It makes much more sense at my age (literally do not need any more handbags, at least in the foreseeable future) and I'm pretty sure "experiences" is what's been missing from my life over the past six months.

So yeah. Tl;dr: I quit my job and I'm not buying as much stuff. I'm dreaming big, but first I'm taking baby steps.