I stayed with a sorority sister of mine for June and July, and when I arrived in her apartment, I had with me a suitcase, a crate, a bookbag, and an upright fan. When I left her apartment at the end of July to move into my own, I somehow had two or three carloads of stuff to lug in the sweltering heat.
And it was exactly that–stuff. A small part of it was necessary, like a new cooking pot. A small part of it was sentimental, like the handmade figurines my boyfriend brought me for my birthday. Most of it, however, got lumped together into a single category of annoyance when I contemplated how to get it from one place to another with minimal hassle. It made me realize that, while I had no doubt enjoyed purchasing most of what I now had to move, in the end it became simple accumulation. Was I really happier or better served by having these new things? In the end, I didn’t see them as individual objects of value, but as a mass with little meaning.
The first jolt from the real world to my still-childish sense of value came when I began working my first job, and realized that even a flimsy top from Forever21 amounted to two hours of my life. Purchases became weighted to something real. Moving into an apartment of my own provided the second nudged awakening to a new sense of what I “need” and don’t. Sure, I still covet all manner of clothes (and whatever I spend my money on). But in the end, I find that the only things worth having in life are the things that make life run smoothly and more beautifully–and that means that no, I don’t need another sundress or cardigan unless I find one that inspires me, all on its own.