So, recently I sold my favourite bag. A grey, suede beauty of a handbag, a consumerist goal, a representation of better times and traditional success.
I kept my beautiful bag in its maroon dust bag, gold tree motif displayed proudly in the corner, and talked to it now and again. I looked after it, I enjoyed relating the tale of how our first house purchase fell through so to make myself feel better I dropped a chunk of the deposit cash on this, this designer arm candy, this badge of status. Oh, a different lifetime, a different person.
It’s taken me approximately 5 years to decide to sell it. Eventually I decided that two or three outings a year just wasn’t worth hoarding it in a drawer, waiting in the dust bag, longing for use.
True to form, I didn’t treat it like a designer bag. I filled it with shopping and crumbs and love, but always carefully. I can’t imagine anyone else opening their Mulberry and pulling out a tin of beans, some custard and a lump of cheddar. It’s a bag. I used it as a bag.
But even this didn’t justify the fact that in the end, I was just leaving it lying in that dark drawer for longer and longer periods of time.
So eventually I let it go, on a journey to someone who’ll love it just as much and use it way more often than I ever did. That badge of status left over from the days when I used to care too much about those shiny, serial-numbered things.
Paring down my possessions never included the more expensive part of my wardrobe. Only a few pieces, but ones I felt lucky to own. The problem is, as nicely made as those items are, they no longer have a use. The designer wedding shoes that cost twice as much as my dress. The bright jacket that no longer fits across my shoulders. The sharply cut, asymmetric office skirt that powered me to success. The draped jersey dress that no longer hides the 3 stone I’ve put on this past two years. I will slim down as my health improves. But the amount of time that will take, and the amount of times I’ll actually honestly wear these pieces, means that I’m going to let them go.
The thing is, letting go of expensive things is no different than letting go of cheaper things. The price is inconsequential. The amount spent on something isn’t a measure of how useful it is. It isn’t a measure of how much we like the possession. It isn’t anything of any meaning. Attaching meaning to an item that is more expensive is falling into the trap of our consumer society – that expensive is better. Paying more means it’s worth more. Paying more will make people jealous of us. And so we strive to afford the expensive option.
It isn’t true. A free object can mean more to us, can have more use, than something costing twenty times as much. It’s just a change in perception, in how we attach value to things. Value does not have to mean cost. Value is personal.
After selling my beloved bag, I’ve opened the floodgates. I hope that the people who choose to own my clothes get much more use and joy out of them than I am able to. And because of that, I’ve made my peace with letting them go. It’s the last shreds of that lifestyle I used to live, and I’m happy now to let those whispers slide through my fingers. I’m no longer holding on just in case. I let my clothes go, and I let the old me go too.
I make room for the new.