I am a hyper-maximalist. Where others may refer to their look or lifestyle as over the top, for many year I have teetered on the verge of ‘out of control’. I went through my minimalist ‘Feng shui’ phase when I started college. I wanted to think only of my studies and removed distractions. I threw out almost everything I owned, much to the confusion of my family, and replaced everything with 1 vase, 2 giant coffee cups and a wicker waste bin. I was a zen master. YES!
Then I moved to London, Studied for years and got my first management job in Selfridges. Age 24 and armed with lots of disposable cash and an unfulfilling relationship, I set about replacing the void with lots and lots of Fendi, Gucci, Prada, stuff, more stuff, trinkets and crap.
Fast forward 3 years and I was on a BBC 3 program called Spendaholics about extreme spenders. My pastime had peaked and got somewhat out of control. I then realised that I needed to get rid, so started selling, swapping, reducing down and then over the years accumulated again. I worked hard so I deserved stuff? I could afford stuff? I wanted that thing or the other thing so why not? After a while, I realised that it had more to do with a lack of focus and/or deep routed emotional detachments; as well as impulse control and delaying gratification of my reward centre.
I started to look at Marie Kondo, the poster child of minimalism and tried to buy into the notion that something not ‘sparking joy’, was the drive I needed to get rid of it. I spoke to a lady at work, who said she was raised in a family of hoarders. Both her mother and grandmother hoarded and therefore she found it difficult to imagine living any other existence. I too grew up in a hoarders paradise, too embarrassed to invite friends home for fear that my parents behaviour would be subject to scrutiny.
In an attempt to free my life of all my designer baggage, I gave thanks and started throwing things into a black bin liner. Hours and hours went by and I just couldn’t let go. The thing was, Marie Kondo failed to give you a solution if you find that everything ‘Sparks joy?’
After around 8 hours and an upturned flat, I had managed to throw away 2 things. 2 things?…. 2 things! I was loosing my mind. I had to be more brutal about it, so I thought of what question would really get me to detach myself from my stuff. I chose an icon that I wanted to meet and imagined that their critical eye was my benchmark and it worked. I simply asked myself with every item I plucked from my abyss; “Would you wear that to meet Anna Wintour?”
3 sacks full later, I had finally figured out my mantra. Unless I moved forward and grew, presenting the best version of myself at all times I could never see the wood for the trees. I mentioned this to my colleagues asking them who their icon of choice would be. Oprah and Lady Gaga both came up. Funny enough, now every time I pick something to buy, they give me that little reminder… “But would you wear that to meet Anna Wintour?” more often than not, I take a step back, take a look with fresh eyes and my answer, quite simply is NO!
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