I made this note months ago:
- Hope brings things
- you hope you’ll use things, you hope you’ll have friends over for games nights, you hope you’ll sew the pattern, etc.
- But those hopes may not be who you really are (ex: I don’t tend to invite people over, but I do sew on occasion).
I can’t remember exactly where I heard this, but I’m fairly sure that it was in one of The Minimalists* podcasts. This idea of hope bringing things caught my attention because it’s true and it’s something that has had a huge impact on my life:
- I hoped to be perceived as a successful adult, which I am, so I don’t know why I felt the need to prove it with a bigger-than-I-like apartment and “nice” things
- I hoped to be a great quilter or stitcher, when, in fact, I liked the crafts but wasn’t passionate about them
- I hoped to be more interested in cooking, which is silly because I eat very well with my simple and rare cooking endeavors
- I hoped …
- I hoped …
- I hoped …
Instead of using my time and energy to become those things (or, more importantly, to consider if I really wanted to become those things), I used my time and money to acquire things that those people might have. It’s as if I was looking for that magic pill or a bit of instant gratification: “I have a quilt pattern, now I’m a quilter – yay! I feel gratified!”
Quilting might be a bad example, as I’ve made a few quilts (and have one in the works as I draft this), but you get the idea. Hope, or the wish to be something, can lead us to buying things that we don’t need yet and may never need. It’s what entices us to buy the latest fashions, the better lawnmower, or the full set of gear that we think we need for a new hobby that we’ve only just began (or haven’t even tried yet).
I’ve had many chances to revisit my past hopes over the past few years. Each time I got rid of something, I had to admit that it had just been a hope. In some cases I was sorry that the hope hadn’t turned into reality and sometimes I was ashamed about not turning that hope into reality. But, we can’t be everything and I needed to focus on my priorities and the hobbies that I loved best.
Going forward, I’m trying to be more careful of hope. When I find myself itching to buy things, one of the things that I consider is if I’m buying it because I know I need it or because I hope I’ll need/use it. I struggle with this when I’m considering art supplies. For example, I recently decided to buy a Leuchtturm1917 bullet journal, but I agonized over it for days – Do I really needed it? Am I just hoping to keep a bullet journal? Am I just hoping that this book with be better than the notebooks I already own? Why do I need it?
I did purchase it in the end because I’ve been keeping a bullet journal of sorts for a few weeks and had already tried it in several different notebooks or different sized papers. In this case, the Leuchtturm1917 bullet journal has all the things I need: a medium sized page with something to act as a guide for my layout (grid dots). For me, it was based on a preexisting reality, not on hope, so it made sense to buy the journal. And, yes, I do use it – not everyday, but certainly several times a week.
The next time you declutter or consider buying something, do a little thought experiment and consider if you’re buying something you need, or something you hope that you’ll need.
*If you’re interested in minimalism or simply need something inspirational to listen to while decluttering/simplifying, The Minimalist are a good resource. While they have embraced a fairly stereotypical minimalist lifestyle for themselves, they’re adamant that we all need to find what works best for us, whether that be owning only 50 items or keeping that random key chain collection that you love even though your partner thinks it’s silly. The podcasts do get a bit repetitive if you listen to too many in one day, but they still have useful content.