It had become a stand off. It was time to make a decision. I'd avoided this for far too long. Finally, I reluctantly handed it over. Within seconds, my fears dissipated and I felt so much lighter. One more fantasy self down....
What is a fantasy self?
Ok, I appreciate this intro was fairly vague. It may seem overly dramatic when you learn that I was just blethering on about passing on my sewing machine to my mother. But, years of minimalism has taught me that this is far more significant.
A fantasy self is basically what its says on the tin. It is a persona that you wish you were, but are not currently living. They can creep in from a variety of angles. Some are obvious. Like, for me, when I bought running kit. I went on one run, hated it, and then it lay collecting dust at the back of my cupboard for months. It was one of the first of my items to be eagerly decluttered when I started taking minimalism seriously.
Others can be more sneaky. They can be those that you use intermittently, yet don't love. Or those that you used to love, but don't any more. Our life's change so much. We don't stay static, so we cannot expect our passions to do so.
Why are they a problem
The first reason is a practical one. Lots of fantasy selves leads to lots of clutter. Most of which you probably purchased in the first whims of this new 'passion'. Whether it be baking equipment, arts supplies or hula hoops, it can all take up space. Space that is being entirely wasted with items that you have to clean, tidy and maintain. Is it really worth the effort?
The second issue is more subtle. Clutter has the ability to get into our heads. It can ruin our peace of mind and distract our focus. There is something especially damaging in 'fantasy self' clutter. Its a constant reminder that we are 'failing'. That small but continual wash of guilt and self-deprecation eats away at us. We need to protect our mental health.
How to overcome them
Follow these 3 steps to help kick fantasy selves for good.
1. Identify them
Identifying these selves can feel brutal. We don't want to admit that we aren't really going to be the person we wish we were. But for most of us, the reality is that these selves will remain a fantasy.
Take the time to reflect on what aspiring selves you are currently not living. If you're struggling, take a wander around your home and pick out any items that are currently underused and may be associated with a self. These can range from a hobby you are not spending time on or clothes that no longer fit.
Once identified, gather all of these items together and let the clutter really sink in. Then move on to step 2.
2. Give yourself an ultimatum
The next step can go one of two ways. Either you admit to yourself that you cannot see yourself fulfilling these fantasy selves in the foreseeable future OR you put in the work to make these fantasy selves a reality.
An ultimatum in crucial here. If you are not yet ready to let these items go, set yourself a time period and monitor how much you actually use them. Sometime, this process can give us the kick we need to actually embrace these fantasy's, which is a fantastic result. But in my experience, it generally goes the other way, so you should be prepared for this.
3. Make peace with letting go
Letting go of these fantasy selves does not mean that you are a failure. It is so important to be honest with yourself and accept the person you are. It is a fine line here, as I would always encourage continually growing, but I often think we can aim for the wrong selves. We fantasise about being the human that society may expect of us. Perhaps coming up with a self through playing the comparison game on social media. Or aiming for too many at once. This will inevitably end up the same way.
Make peace with letting go of these items. Try and give them to a good home, where they will actually get some use. If you're stressing that you might change your mind, there is nothing stopping you from embracing this self later in life. If this is the case, you can buy anything you need again. I don't believe that holding on to this clutter for the slim chance you might use it is healthy. If you really want to try it again, lets see if you go to the effort of repurchasing these items. I've personally never looked back.
This can process can be exhausting, both physically and emotionally, so we don't want to be doing it often. That's not to say don't try anything new again. That would be awful. Instead, if you feel like dabbling in something new, be modest in what material items to purchase. Borrow if you can, and assess how well this new self fits into your life. It takes the pressure off you and our overstuffed landfills. Win win.
I'm curious, what fantasy selves are currently part of your life, or perhaps used to be? Comment below!