As soon as you read the title of this blog you instantly disagreed or reluctantly agreed with it. I can hear my grandpa’s voice in my head right now saying, “Pluto has always been a planet and it will always BE a planet.” No matter what scientific evidence is presented to him (or maybe you), Pluto is STILL a planet.
So why does he (and possibly you) believe that? Because of essentialism. (Don’t feel bad, I had to Google it too.)
Essentialism is the belief things have a set of characteristics that make them what they are and that these characteristics place those things in certain categories. And the “kicker” here is that most of us rely on the opinions of experts to help us form these categories.
(Stick with me – I’m going somewhere with this.)
So…years and years ago some NASA scientist told us Pluto was a planet so we placed Pluto in the “planet category”. Sure, why not! It’s…round and floating in space and revolving around the sun and that’s what planets do…right?
Now fast forward a few decades and a different set of NASA scientists are telling us, “Nope, our bad. It’s really NOT a planet.” Well, too late NASA! We already listened to you once and we are horrible at changing how we categorize things! And until the day I die it will be a PLANET!
Ok, so we are all on the same page now. Pluto’s a planet and someone needs to enlighten NASA on the concept of “no takesy backsies”.
Now, pick up a fashion magazine. Flip through the pages. Read the opinions of those “experts” and let those opinions place YOU into a category. It should be easy to do since YOU have a defined set of characteristics.
You’re too short. You’re not tanned enough. You’re hair isn’t straight. You’re hair isn’t curly. You’re teeth aren’t perfectly white. You’re skinny. You’re fat. (I know that last one hurt.)
Keep flipping those pages though because those “experts” are now going to tell you HOW to FIX all of that.
This is the color for you. This purse makes you look just like her. Those pants are slimming. These earrings make you stand out. WEAR THAT. BUY THIS.
And no matter how hard you try, no matter how much you buy, you’re still Pluto the Planet because you CAN’T RE-CATEGORIZE YOURSELF.
Are you close to tears right now? I know I am. Ugh, why is self-image so hard?
Here’s the thing – no outfit can define the essence of who you really are. Who you REALLY are remains the same wither you’re wearing a new $300 outfit or the faded jeans from your closet. And if we believe the idea of essentialism (categorizing based off characteristics) then no matter what you do, you will still fall into the same categories.
So, stop categorizing yourself based on the opinions of “experts”. Even if you buy that new dress, you’re still a mom. Carrying a new purse doesn’t mean you’re no longer a daughter. You’re still a friend no matter how many pair of shoes you own. Not shopping and wearing the clothes I already own has allowed (and forced) me to focus of what my true essence is and what categories I want to be in.
What is your true essence? What categories do you want to be in? Generous? Kind? Compassionate? Wise?
And if we can start to see ourselves differently maybe we can start to see everyone else differently too, and maybe, just maybe, we can open our minds up to the idea that Pluto maybe isn’t really a planet after all.
It’s strange but over the last two weeks I’ve heard the phrase “What are you willing to walk away from?” several different times. Once from a podcast, once from an online article and once from a movie. So, it got me thinking “What am I willing to walk away from?”
I know we’ve all run this scenario through our minds – our house is on fire and we only have seconds to save what matters most to us. Of course, we save the kids first, pets seconds, maybe we grab a family heirloom, photos…but what else?
What else would make you run back into your burning house? Seriously, take a minute and think about it.
I’m really hoping no one even considered anything in their closet. I mean, I LOVE my Kate Spade purses but they are ALL replaceable. In fact, everything I own is replaceable. So, while it’s easy to say “I would never run back into a burning house for my material possessions” it’s harder to admit how much value we are currently placing on them.
I hope you all can see how I’m going to tie this back into my one year challenge and how I’m trying to change my own personal views of my clothing and my possessions. It’s one thing to say “I’m not buying clothes” but it’s an entirely different thing to say “I’m not attached to anything I own”.
I know I’ve quoted Joshua Fields Millburn before (he’s from The Minimalists), but I think he does a better job of explaining what I’m trying to say here:
“If I purchase new possessions, I need to make certain I don’t assign them too much meaning. Being able to walk away means I won’t ever get too attached to my belongings, and being unattached to stuff makes our lives tremendously flexible—filled with opportunity.” http://www.theminimalists.com/walk-away/
Joshua goes on to explain that walking away doesn’t just apply to stuff, it also applies to habits, thoughts, and ideas. And being willing to walk away from bad habits, negative thoughts, and old ideas show our willingness grow and improve ourselves.
When I was a teenager I remember my sister Windy wearing a new ring she had picked up at a flea market. She didn’t spend a lot of money on it, but she was pretty proud of it and it looked nice on her. A couple of weeks later we were at a cookout and a family friend walks over and says how much she LOVES that ring and that she’s been looking for one just like it. And without even flinching, Windy takes the ring off and says, “Well, here you go.”
Just like that she handed the ring over like it was a piece of gum someone had asked for. Needless to say, the girl was floored and I was blown away myself. Later I asked my sister why she would just give the ring away when she had just bought it? I have never forgotten her answer.
She said, “I just don’t want to be a person who values stuff more then I value people.”
I was so impressed with what she said and I told myself I wanted to be that kind of person too, but sadly I let that valuable lesson fade. And here I am (25 years later) trying to become the kind of person my twin sister was at the age of 16.
But it’s never too late to relearn an important lesson. It’s never too late for personal growth and self-improvement! There’s comes a point in everyone’s life when the light bulb comes on and we finally “get it”. (Some of you will be 16 when that happens and some of us will be 41 – LOL!)
Sometime this week walk through your closet (or house) and ask yourself what could you walk away from. Ask yourself what are you assigning meaning to and how attached are you to your possessions. Would you be willing to just give it away if someone needed it? I know it’s cliché to say, but do you own your stuff or does your stuff own you?
I just got back from a short vacation in Florida and let me just say that I LOVE GOING ON VACATION! Doesn’t matter if it’s 2 weeks in Italy or 3 days in Florida – I LOVE IT! Who doesn’t?! You get to relax, eat good food, sleep in, and buy new clothes.
Oh, that’s right…I can’t buy new clothes. Dang it.
I know y’all know what I’m talking about though cause we ALL buy new clothes for vacation. Doesn’t matter how many swimsuit cover ups you already own, you still need a NEW one for that trip to the beach.
Hey, I’m not judging! That’s what I’ve done my entire adult life. Until now.
I read an article recently about a lady who was buying a new summer dress and her friend says, “That’s going to look so great on your vacation.” The lady replies, “Oh, I’m not taking this on vacation.” Her friend says, “Why not?” And she says, “Cause I don’t know anyone there.”
How come I had never thought of it like that before? If I don’t know any of those people and none of them have laid eyes on me before, then that means ALL my clothes are new clothes on vacation.
With this new revelation in hand, I was excited to pack for my trip! I couldn’t wait to pick outfits I knew I already liked and looked good in but would be completely new AGAIN. Seriously, I might never buy new clothes for vacation.
I also found another perk of not buying vacation clothes – I had more money to spend while I was on vacation! I was able to treat my friends to dinner and to not stress about what I was spending on food and drinks. It was a vacation from “vacation spending guilt” too! When I got home I looked at my bank account and thought, “Wow, that’s all I spent?”
I hope you all take my advice and attempt to not buy new clothes for your next vacation. Instead use that money and splurge on a nice dinner, on experiences, and on making memories.
My name is Misty Day (yeah, that really is my name) and I'm a normal every day person. I'm a twin, I work as an analyst, I take my daughter to Girl Scouts and swim team, I play bass guitar in a band, I love food and wine, I like new clothes, and I'm trying to be a better person.