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Confessions of an Ex-Hoarder

Lessons learned in my search for meaning

Confessions of an Ex-Hoarder
Photography by DSL Studio

It started with stashing extra notebooks, pens, and socks in kindergarten. Decades later, it became a collection of everything I needed to be liked and happy.: at least 90 pairs of shoes, a closet with bulging doors, hundreds of books, and shelves of camera equipment to meet me when I got home.

Instead of feeling fulfilled, my things made me feel empty.

I thought I must not have found the right things. I shopped more, spent more, and rationalized it as ‘investing in myself and the successful life I was building’. I worked more to pay for all these new things, yet they still didn’t give my life meaning.

The moment of change happened in my mid-twenties during a 7.2 magnitude earthquake when everything came tumbling down around me… literally.

The many things I’d hoarded made an already terrible tragedy even more difficult. The things I owned falling around my ears along with ceiling plaster almost led to injury. This led to cleanup and repairs: throwing out what broke and couldn’t be fixed, dealing with the closet door that caved in, sweeping and dusting and folding and washing. Rinse, wash, and repeat.

I quickly realized that my things were weighing me down. Not only because of what I spent to buy them, but the cost of storing and maintaining them. And in the middle of the earthquake, they weren’t what I valued anyways. In those scary moments, my mind turned to a short list of people I loved and three things I enjoyed using. Everything else was non-essential.

Thus, my minimalism journey began. I let go of what didn’t serve me and realized that letting go didn’t make me a lesser version of myself. Passing on these things led to the discovery of what really mattered, and how everything that mattered weren’t really things.

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