Our journey towards having less has only just begun, but I am already struggling with one aspect; being different.
Usually the majority of us want to be the same as everyone else. We want to feel like we fit in, we want to be included. We want to be surrounded by people with similar wants, needs and interests. This is the problem.
Most of us want more. We want a bigger house, a newer car, a better holiday, more toys for the kids, more clothes for the wardrobe…the list is endless. This was me. I was always looking towards the next big purchase, the next upgrade. I was never truly happy with where I was and dreams for the future were aspirations of more.
Now, I’m not saying that I’m totally immune to this concept today, but since cutting back I have looked at things differently. I don’t need more clothes, I need less. I don’t need a bigger house (although I still peruse the estate agents window!), we fit very well into the one we have and use every room. We have a very nice car now, but we have already decided that our next one will be a second-hand workhorse, not a brand new, top of the range 4×4!
As eye-opening as these realisations are – and as satisfying they are to follow – there is no escaping one fact. Being determined to live a life with less makes you different. Yes, people downsize and cut back all the time but usually it’s a reaction to a problem. Job loss, illness, even a new baby all put a strain on finances and result in people doing whatever it takes to rein in the spending. But if you are relatively successful and mention, for example, you traded in your Range Rover with all the extras for a two-year old Hyundai, people will be confused. It is not the norm. This confusion may then turn to suspicion. Is there something you’re not admitting? Are you heading for bankruptcy? And, of course, everyone KNEW your spending would get the better of you in the end.
It takes courage to admit your values have changed. It is difficult to be involved in a conversation about spending (be it clothes, houses or sports gear!) if you know it no longer interests you. On the other hand you don’t want to alienate yourself from your friends and family. When these situations arise, I act as enthusiastically as I used to. I still accept the odd invite to go shopping, but I rarely buy anything…unless I need to buy a gift for someone. This way I still get the buzz of being included and having fun with friends, but I don’t come home laden with stuff I don’t need and can’t store. Occasionally I will explain my way of thinking if someone seems genuinely interested in why I’m not shopping till I drop. But usually I keep it to myself. It pleases me immensely that my teenage daughter can see that a day at the shops does not necessarily mean you buy everything and anything. It’s not easy, and like anything it takes practice, but it is do-able. And if I can, anyone can.
Have courage in your convictions.
Don’t follow the crowd.
Do what feels right for you.