Thoughts & Observations

The Anxiety of Stuff

We’re used to thinking about the anxiety connected to not having enough stuff or not having the right stuff. We don’t have enough money. We could really use new curtains and a few more staples in our wardrobe because although we already own six little black dresses, we don’t have one that is quite casual enough. Our car is ok but we could really use a better one. We have a full set of pans, but we don’t have one of the extra special ceramic non-stick kind.

We’re used to that type of anxiety. But what about the anxiety we experience around the stuff that we already own?

If you think about it, many of us find our days filled with anxiety and worry about how to manage our things.

Because we have a lot of stuff we constantly have to:

  • Organize and sort it
  • Find a place to store all of it
  • Put it back when it has been taken out
  • Clean it or clean around it
  • Worry about losing it or breaking it or having get stolen
  • Pay money to move our stuff from one place to another (whether we’re hiring  moving truck or simply checking a bag for a flight)
  • Worry and stress about how exactly we’ll get it from one place to another (Will we be able to carry our suitcase all over Italy? How many trips will it take to get everything up to our 5th floor walkup?)

I was thinking today about how much anxiety when traveling is often tied up in being worried about maneuvering luggage. And why, then, we don’t shift to packing a small, minimalist carry on only bag with only a couple changes of clothes?

And I was also thinking having kids and why we buy so much stuff for them – why we have a million different sets of clothes and toys and equipment?

It isn’t because it is all absolutely necessary.

It is because we are afraid of being judged.

We don’t want people looking at us funny for wearing practically the same outfit every day on a trip.

We don’t want people to think we can’t provide for our kids if they only have a week’s worth of outfits instead of three months’ worth.

We let the anxiety over what other people will think of us win and trade it out for a whole other set of anxieties.

The truth is though, if we just stopped caring about how other people would judge us, we would not only be able to let go of that anxiety, but we’d be able to let go of the majority of anxiety surrounding our stuff as well.

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