I (Kate) vividly remember the day I took out all of the clothes from my closet and laid everything out on the bed. I had spent a lot of time and money accumulating a collection of clothing that I felt represented my authentic style. To an extent, my clothes felt like a part of my identity. I remember thinking: How will I ever let anything go?
Although the task seemed impossible, I knew in the back of my mind that I really didn’t have a choice. All of these clothes simply would not fit in the van, so I needed to stop dwelling on what I was letting go of and reframe my focus to what I would gain instead.
Thankfully, I quickly realized that with each item I parted with, the more at ease I felt. It turns out I was still myself without a closet bursting with corduroy shackets and flannel shirts.
preparing for van life
When we made the decision to transition from apartment living to van life, we knew it would be the ultimate practice in the art of letting go. Although we had sold or donated countless items each time we moved to a new apartment (3 times over the course of 5 years), we still had way more than could fit in a van or that we would ultimately need.
Although it was exciting to think about having less possessions, it also felt overwhelming at times to think about how much we would need to sort through, when we would have the time, and which items we would decide to keep vs. give up.
To make this process of letting go more manageable for us, we asked ourselves the following questions:
- Which items are essential to have in the van?
- Which items do we know we will not have a use for in the van?
- Which items do we still love & enjoy, although they may not be essential in the van?
These questions helped us sort our possessions from each room in our apartment into 3 groups. The essential items that belonged in the first category were fairly easy to determine, and we could just leave those things untouched. The items that we would not have a use for in the van were also pretty simple to determine, and these are the items we listed first. The final category, however, was the trickiest for us (and shifted throughout our process). We decided to leave those items until the end.
How we began Downsizing
To make things more manageable for ourselves, we focused on one category at a time. We started listing big furniture items first (TV stand, TV, nightstands, coffee table). Then we focused on slightly smaller furniture items (lamps, home decor, plants).
Eventually, we began making our way through each room and space in the apartment: the kitchen drawers, the cabinet under the bathroom sink, the coat closet. While most of the decisions as to what to keep vs. what to sell were easy, the hardest for us were usually the decisions around the items we owned personally and would need to decide for ourselves.
our advice to you
When tough decisions need to be made, the best advice we can give is to ask yourself the following:
What could I gain through letting go of this item?
We hope that when you consider the positive outcomes to owning less, it really doesn’t become so hard to let go after all.