It’s Week 1 of the 52 Weeks of Gratitude Challenge, here’s our challenge for this week:
Week 1: Why Start this Challenge?
I’m not going to lie to you, I first wanted to start this challenge just to cross it off my list. I really want to reach my goal of completing all the courses I’ve signed up for and challenges I’ve neglected. I realized as I was staring at this blank post that I started this challenge for the wrong reasons. I started this gratitude challenge not to truly get something out of it, but to cross it off my to do list. It’s not even one week into the challenge yet, and I can already tell how much I need this challenge.
Prior to my life of frugality, I was a spender. I had so much stuff that when my Fiance and I moved into our first apartment together, we couldn’t even bring it all over on the first run. We had filled up my car, my Fiance’s mini van, my friend’s mini van, and a u-haul full of just my stuff. My Fiance’s belongings literally all fit in his mini van. It wasn’t until we went back to my parent’s home to pick up another full load of stuff that I started to see my stuff was suffocating me. Our living room was completely full of crap. Not sentimental or useful things, but actual useless junk. That was the first time as an adult I truly decluttered my belongings. The next day, we sent a car full of my old things to Goodwill to be donated and given a second life. That day, my attachment to material things was severed and I finally felt free to take control of my life again. I would no longer let myself be defined by the things in my home, but rather the person who lives inside of that home.
Growing up, I never truly appreciated every item that came into our home. The food that was always on our table, nice clothes on our backs, and an abundance of snacky cakes in our pantry. For me, this was just how life was. I knew no other way to live. I was completely oblivious to the millions of people who suffer from the crushing weight of debt, or who struggle to make ends meet. I could not wrap my head around the idea of a pantry without snacky cakes, much less any basic necessities.
When it was finally time for me to step out into the world on my own, it came with a crushing sense of reality. Snacky cakes cost money, and snacky cakes are actually a luxury, not a necessity. In fact, much of the lifestyle I was accustomed to was considered a luxury, and things like getting your nails done don’t always fit the budget. I was ill prepared for the lifestyle change that would later follow, but at the time these things felt like a part of my everyday life.
My everyday life now is much simpler. While there are frequently snacky cakes in our pantry, they are there from a couponing expedition at the grocery store which cost almost nothing, and I almost never get my nails done. Instead of spending my free time shopping, I spend my time reading, baking, or doing something more meaningful.
Just yesterday, I donated four trash bags full of stuff I’d collected from our home. So while I am indeed trying to cross this challenge off my to do list, I am also looking for ways to be more content with the things I own, be grateful for the luxuries in life I’m able to enjoy, and give back whenever I can.