Hello everyone! I’ve stayed away from my computer quite a bit this week so I could focus on my personal life and getting a few things sorted before I start study next week, but I’m excited to be back at my keyboard today to share what is a very special post for me: my completion of my Nothing New Project of one year!
Last time I checked in, I reported that I wasn’t feeling desperate to buy anything new, and that feeling stands. I finished the ban four days ago now, and didn’t rush out to buy anything or jump online to place a huge Amazon or Book Depository order. In fact, I think all I’ve bought is some zucchinis and broccoli! Such an anti-climax. 😆
I recently finished reading No Baggage, a beautiful travel memoir by Clara Bensen which Steph over at Make More Meaning recommended (thanks, Steph!); while reading, one particular passage really caught my attention and I now realise, perfectly sums up what I felt at the end of the project. Sometimes it really is best to let someone else do the talking for you when their words perfectly encapsulate what you’re feeling. Looking back on a three-week overseas trip spent with a near stranger, with pretty much nothing but the clothes on her back, a credit card, passport, toothbrush and spare pair of underwear, Clara Bensen writes the following:
In our experiment, the marker for success was not a groundbreaking revelation about consumption or a preachy sermon about the ills of Black Friday. Rather, it was the simple acknowledgement that, after the initial jump, we’d mostly forgotten we were performing an experiment at all.
Of course, attempting to not buy anything new for a year does result in groundbreaking revelations about consumerism – which I won’t elaborate on here since I’ve discussed a few of those in previous posts – but those revelations are eclipsed by the realisation that, quite simply, it’s actually possible to live like this. What at first felt like deprivation transformed into a sense of awe at just how little I need to live a normal life.
The most exciting thing I want to share in today’s post, though, is not about living with less or how my shopping habits have changed lately. Those kind of insights are all valid and have dramatically transformed my relationship with stuff, but what has moved me most is the realisation that consuming less has been a metaphor for a deeper shift that has been going on within me.
I realised fairly early on in this that on a material level, I already have everything I need, but I now know that on an emotional level, the same is also true. This realisation is part of a broader personal development journey that I’m on, but I also think it has in part come about because when I avoid wasting my time and energy on desiring, consuming and maintaining stuff, I divert that energy back into my inner life. My feelings of self-sufficiency and the adequacy of my possessions were infectious, and combined with my determination to work on self-esteem in 2018, seemed to help me overcome my huge mental hurdle of self-rejection. It’s nice to know that my possessions are enough and that I only need the minimum (by Western standards, that is), but knowing that I am not my possessions and am enough just as I am, is more than just nice to know – it’s absolutely vital when it comes to living a life that is rich, meaningful and happy.
I’m incredibly grateful to everything this experience has taught me, and to the many lovely people who have reached out to offer their encouragement, tips and insights along the way. My own ban is over so there won’t be any more posts on this from me, but I’m now very excited to be following along on Britt’s journey over at Tiny Ambitions as she does a year-long shopping ban!
I’m also very keen to track my own spending habits post-project to keep me focussed and accountable when it comes to sustainability and ethical buying habits, so I have been writing all my purchases down since the beginning of 2018 and plan to do a reflection post on these at the end of the year. I plan to go forward with an important set of questions that I want to bring to every purchase: Do I need it? Do I love it? Does it add value? Is this where I want my money to go? I’m very curious to see how I go on following through on those questions.
Well, that’s it for now. Thanks for your support, everyone! If you want to read past posts from this series, check them all out here.