Until about six months ago I was obsessed with money.
Not in an outward way, it wasn't really obvious to anyone
but me. I would start to mildly panic if I left the
house with less than twenty dollars in my wallet. I
couldn't really put my finger on where this fear came
from, but it's been with me most of my life.
I grew up in a family of five, and there wasn't very
much money to go around. The only times we got anything
"special" or went out to eat were holidays. I remember
children at school thinking I was insane for getting
an eight-dollar Christmas present, when they had hundreds
of dollars worth of toys. I should have let these experiences
show me the true value of these holidays and that material
possessions were just that -- but I didn't. I let feelings
of jealousy and materialism fester within me, so that
by the time my family actually had some money to go
around I had been changed. I would strive to always
have money in my pocket; I had no problem with working
long hours when I was sixteen, as long as I got money.
I was never really greedy or thrifty with my money.
I would often spend large amounts on friends and family,
but I was always sure that I would have some left over;
I could never be without. If I was low on money I would
sell CDs or videogames to get more, even if I had no
immediate need for it. Money truly dictated how much
fun I would have, where I would go, and what I would
This all changed in mid-summer of this past year. I
can't really remember the day it changed, or even what
really brought about the change, but one day it was
just different. I found a particular disgust for material
items that I had cherished for so long. Expensive jackets
rarely worn, videogames rarely played, I found them
distasteful and almost shaming. The first step I took
was getting rid of all my videogames. My first impulse
was to sell them in the paper, but then I realized this
would not only defeat my purpose, but I would most likely
procrastinate until the urge had passed. I decided to
give them to some of my old roommates as early Christmas
gifts, and they loved them. The next step I took was
to stop buying things so carelessly. It was not a decision
to be thrifty really, more of a decision just to evaluate
my spending habits more intensively and objectively.
I still spent a lot of money on CDs and musical equipment,
but I stopped buying trinkets and things that caught
my eye for a second.
About this time I switched from an ovo-lacto vegetarian
diet to a vegan diet. With this choice came new quandaries:
what should I do with all of my old animal products?
After thinking it over I decided to donate all of them
to a thrift store run by a no-kill animal shelter. Some
of the animal goods I got rid of were the hardest to
part with. I had a leather jacket I had worn throughout
high school, and I had painted things all over it. I
also had a very expensive long wool overcoat, which
was the "pride of my closet." All the way to the thrift
store I had a difficult time just thinking about donating
it. I found I was angry at myself for these feelings.
It was just a jacket; I could buy another one with my
next paycheck. I hadn't even paid for the jacket; it
was given to me as a gift.
In retrospect, I'm glad I cleaned out my room and my
closet. I no longer have to pay homage to clothing and
possessions every time I enter my room. I feel a lot
more freedom now, as if a yoke has been lifted. Now,
anytime I feel like holding on to something, I try and
give it away. I'm tired of being chained by monetary
and sentimental worth. That said, I think money is no
longer really a problem for me. Of course, I still make
money, and I still spend money, but now I am in control,
not the other way around.
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