I’m almost 30 years old and I don’t own anything.
Three years ago, this realization might have freaked me out. Today though, it’s a fact that allows me to live a life of greater freedom.
In just one week, I will be embarking on a month-long, solo trip to Europe. The other day, I was thinking about what I will need to pack for my journey. I don’t have much, so my bags will be light. It’s been almost a year since I downsized my living situation and gave up my apartment in DC. Since then, I’ve embraced a minimalist lifestyle that has led me to limit the amount of “stuff” I own.
On my key ring are just three keys. One key is for my car (which I don’t really own since I’m still making payments on it). The other two keys are for the room I’ve been renting for the last two months in Charlottesville, VA. Instead of paying for an expensive studio in the city, I now rent a (furnished) room for $425 a month. I don’t own any furniture and I have nothing in storage (except for two boxes of books sitting at my mom’s house). All of my clothing fit into one 20-gallon plastic bin.
This lifestyle allows me to be flexible and nimble. I don’t have to move much of anything as I travel from place to place. I can live where I want without having to worry about finding someone to take care of my stuff while I’m gone. If someone invited me to come work in Italy for a year (hello, I’m available!), I could quickly say: YES.
For me, this is freedom.
On the flipside, when you own a lot of things, they can become a prison. You certainly have to work hard to keep them. If you have a nice home or a new car, you can’t quit your job lest you lose the means with which to make your monthly payments. If you get too tied to a particular lifestyle of going shopping every weekend, it can be hard to consider starting your own business or transitioning into a new career.
There are a lot of people out there who stay in jobs they hate (even marriages), just because they think they need the “security” to pay for the standard of living they’ve grown accustomed to. But when you have fewer possessions, you can be a lot more flexible in the decisions you make for your life.
For me, success used to mean a big salary, a nice car and a luxury condo. Now, success looks like FREEDOM. And what I’ve learned is that it’s actually worth more to me than anything I could ever own.
So I never thought I would say this, but…
I’m glad I don’t own anything.
It means I have nothing to lose.