Myth: Find Your Fantasy Self And Declutter Like A Rock Star

I’ve seen some posts about decluttering your “fantasy self.” The premise goes something like this: All the unused stuff is part of a fantasy life you’ve created. Decluttering gets rid of the fantasy and allows the real you to shine through. But what if this fantasy self is a myth? And what if minimalism is the fantasy?

We buy stuff. Sometimes, we buy stuff we don’t need. And sometimes we buy stuff, hoping to make some kind of change in our lives. Does that mean we’re creating a fantasy self? That’s what some minimalists believe.

We Often Buy Things To Improve Ourselves

Would I like to be 15 pounds lighter? Absolutely. Have I bought exercise equipment to attempt to reach that goal? No doubt. Was I living in a fantasy?

I used that exercise equipment. Then I got bored with it. I started walking or I joined a gym for the social benefits. I like variety. My body is changing as I age. The weights went into the garage. I’ve learned what types of exercise suit me best and what doesn’t work. It’s called self-discovery.  

We’ve all done it. We get interested in something: woodworking, gardening, hiking, etc. We buy all the gear we need, but we don’t follow through with our goal.

Does that mean our goal was just a fantasy? Really? It just means we lost our motivation or ran out of time. Or we realized that this hobby or venture did not suit us. Or worse, we let resistance win and abandoned our dreams. 

So we wound up with some unused stuff in the closet. Do we hold onto it because it resembles our fantasy self? Or are we just lazy?

The Fantasy Self Is Just A Myth

If decluttering is just letting go of the fantasy self, it gives us permission to repeat our behavior. That’s right. We’ll just jump into another fantasy and buy more stuff.

The key to successful decluttering is understanding our buying behaviors in the first place. It’s about being mindful and honest with ourselves. We reach this point through time, experience, and self-discipline. 

I once bought a drafting table and all the tools that I needed for making tiny house plans. I thought it would be simple. But I’ve never taken an architecture course in my life. I discovered there was a learning curve. At the time, I was single parent to a toddler. I was working full time. So I gave up on the tiny house idea.

It wasn’t a fantasy. It was an honest interest. But since, I’ve realized it wasn’t a practical goal for me. 

So now I should let go of those things? Because they resemble my fantasy self? Oh phooey! I use the drafting table as a desk, daily. The small box of drafting tools takes up a little part of a desk drawer. And I have occasionally used those tools. Furthermore, I have them if I need them.

It’s about practicality, not fantasy. It was experimentation. I was learning about myself. It was a healthy process.

On the other hand, I experimented in ultra-light hiking. I bought many more items than I needed. In other words, I went on a buying spree. I still hike, but I let go of half of the excess ultra-light stuff I bought. Not because it represented my fantasy self, but because I had more than I needed. I reevaluated my buying habits. I’ll never buy too much hiking gear again.   

What If Minimalism Is The Fantasy?  

You know what I think? I think the fantasy self theory is a myth. Somebody made it up out of thin air to support their minimalist ideas and sell you books. Oh, and books about minimalism are stuff. Will you give them up after you read them because they represented someone you’re not? I give my books away because I’m done with them. It’s that simple.

Here’s a theory for you: What if minimalism is the fantasy in this equation?

Minimalism suggests that we can attain some level of aesthetic perfection. You’ve seen the pictures. You’ve read the posts. If we just get rid of enough stuff? If we just keep our space clean enough? Or if we can become debt-free? Or only have three sets of clothes? Perhaps minimalism is a fantasy and a myth. 

But in the long run we get more stuff: minimalist stuff. We throw out the old and bring in the minimalist. And someday, everything will be just right. We’ll achieve perfection. And then we’ll find a new fantasy.  

What Was That About A Fantasy Self?

I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t let go of unused stuff. I’m not suggesting that we never buy things in an attempt to fulfill a dream that we later abandon. What I am saying is simple: Rather than considering that unused stuff the dead remains of our fantasy self, lets consider it pieces of our real self. They represent things we desired or enjoyed at one time in our lives.  

My dream to design tiny houses was real. My binge into ultralight gear was real. I simply keep or let go of things based on needs, space, and value. To say these are remains of a fantasy self hinders future dreams and acts of self discovery. I dare say the fantasy self is a myth.  

Give it away if you no longer use it. Repurpose it if you can. If it’s small and something that might be useful, why not keep it? But more than anything, learn to think before you buy the next time!  

I once dreamed of writing. I bought a domain name… 

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James Ewen
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