One of the biggest challenges of moving abroad is managing to pack your whole life away into two suitcases. Fitting into the two suitcase lifestyle is never an easy thing to do. For me, the reason is simple:
I love my stuff! I really do.
How this really reads: I love my clothing. I have a ridiculous amount of it. When I moved from place to place in college my hoodies alone took up one suitcase, and not the moderately proportioned carry-on… I needed the big boy that you theoretically only use for long trips. My scarfs could fill a medium sized packing box, and don’t even get me started on the boots. Before your head explodes at my apparent excess, allow me to say that, of the two things I collect in life — books and clothing — I have more books than I do clothing, and I only shop at thrift stores.
My eventual goal is to be able to live a one-backpack lifestyle, so when that happens I will definitely have to purge again. However, that is a few years down the road and I’ll cross that bridge when I get there. Having made the transition to my so-called two suitcase lifestyle I must say it was a blessing in disguise. Here’s why:
1. Simple is better.
I no longer have those mornings where I stew in front of the closet for a good 15 minutes trying to decide what to wear. Also, those meltdowns/panic attacks that happen after you’ve tried on what seems like a million outfits and still can’t find one that looks ‘Just right’ are a thing of the past. Finally, my recurring fantasy, in which I burn all of my clothes and buy two pairs of jeans and five black T-shirts has all but disappeared.
2. Moving is a breeze.
Now everything I own in the world fits into two suitcases (…and a small carry-on). That means less packing, less heaving and hauling, and less general hatred of moving time.
3. I was tricking myself into thinking any of it really mattered.
For about a week after I moved, I had a mental list of all the things I needed my Dad to send me, for without them I would surely perish. Two weeks later, that list had shortened significantly, and a week after that it was all but non-existent: only three out of 15+ remained. It’s not that I actively decided I didn’t need those things, it’s just that I simply could not remember what they were any more. I had been so convinced I needed them, but the reality is that none of it really mattered to my happiness or well-being, even though I had been so sure it did.
4. It’s a vicious cycle.
Buying things begets buying more things. Bought a new jacket? Well, that scarf over there would compliment it so well. New pair of boots? Probably need some more leg warmers, too. This applies to everything. Our society relies on consumerism. Every new product has a legion of accessories to go with it, and more often than not we don’t need the original product in the first place.
5. Reorientation of priorities.
For the first time in my life I am very much aware of how much stuff I accumulate and I actively try to work against that force. In order to do this I try to only buy things that are useful or add something meaningful, rather than simply ornamenting what I already had. A black blazer is useful. It can be worn formally and casually. A little black dress is an ornament. Would I wear it any other time than clubbing? No. Do I already have clothes I could wear to the club? Yes.
So, free yourself of the things that don’t really matter. Instead of all the useless stuff fill your life with love, laughter, and beautiful new experiences. Your soul (and your suitcase) will feel so much lighter.