With the response I had to my much earlier post on our house fire, I thought I would share with you one of my favorite posts from the very beginning. After I moved into my studio apartment I began to receive a lot of hostile responses. I realized that to some (family, and friends included) my choice to change the way I had been living threatened them. They acted as if I were passing judgement on their lifestyle choices. That was far from the truth. I don’t care how they live, the reason being that I am only responsible for my own happiness, not anyone elses.
So this post was my way of venting the feelings I was having, the answers I wanted to scream out.
From January 10, 2012:
I am basically settled into my new space. I say basically because even though I took the time to get rid of what seemed like almost everything, I still have to figure out where to put what I do have, and in some situations I have to get rid of more.
Meeting people who understand
Being here has been wonderful. I’ve met several people living here who in some way share views of mine. For example, even though a couple apartments are much larger than the others, the tenants still believe in organic gardening and we have a group who are working to put in a community garden. Others live in the smaller ( 300 sq ft) apartments and believe in smaller footprints. Those who live in the larger apartments are very open minded about those of us who prefer the smaller spaces. But by moving here, I have set myself apart from others who aren’t so open-minded.
Isn’t this country the great melting pot? Why can’t I be different?
What I didn’t expect was the backlash from friends and family. It’s those people I’ve known for years who seem some how threatened by what I’ve done.
Why should that be? If I’m happy shouldn’t they be happy for me? I would have thought so, but am finding there is so much more to it than that.
By moving to such a small space I have rocked the status quo, and the expectations in society. I am challenging, in some minds, the norm. Never mind that the norm didn’t make me happy.
For some, my move has been a slap in the face. They are busy working to pay for all the things they need, taking care of the three bedroom house, finding the extra money from the pay check to update the kitchen or buy those new sectionals. Wait, bought the sectionals, now need new curtains…They must have adequate storage space for all those things they have and might need. For example all those tools you need now since you own a home.
Let me answer your questions
For these people, my decision puts them on the defensive, they try to explain to me why they could never do what I’m doing as they roll their eyes while looking around my home.
The questions and responses I get from people when they learned I was moving and once they have seen my space are, for me, too funny. I some times wish they could listen to themselves with an open mind and answer their own questions. Here are just a few:
- But don’t you want to be able to get away to another room when you are too tired to clean and this room looks messy? Where can you go?
- But people are supposed to have a living room, dining room, separate bedrooms, and what about a guest room?
- I need my extra bedroom, it’s my closet for all my clothes, where are the rest of your clothes kept?
- Where do you keep all the things you buy? You don’t have an attic, basement, or garage
- You got rid of too much, what are you going to do when you need some thing you got rid of? You will spend more money buying things but have no where to put it.
Let me answer these one by one:
- As for a messy room and needing to get away. I will admit that in a very small space even a few things left out can make the whole place feel cluttered. Everything I kept has it’s place. when I’m done I put it back, works for me. What these people don’t get is that unlike them I only have one room and a bath to keep clean. That really doesn’t take that much effort. Owning so much less makes it easier too. They are picturing their junk drawers and closets with your space constraints. This is the square peg trying to fit in a round hole. By paring down to your necessities and not moving into a space too small for your current needs you will fit easily and still not have to hide from a messy room.
- Okay, so this one makes me laugh. People are supposed to have ….what??? I have never cared what “people are supposed” the word supposed should be eliminated from our vocabulary. And by the way, who says? Who gets to make the rules for everyone else. As for the guest space, well I have guest space. It works just fine for my overnight guests so far. When you were young did you ever have sleepovers? Did you worry about where your guests were going to sleep. I didn’t, still don’t.
- An extra bedroom for a closet? Are you kidding? Thanks I’ll stick to having less than that. I’m not about to pay for all those clothes then pay to heat an entire room to store them.
- Now this is an easy one. Where do I put all the things I buy? Again this is the square peg and round hole question. These people are picturing their shopping habits and trying to envision where they would store it in my space. Seriously, I don’t shop much as I can’t think of anything I need. I have a couple pairs of shoes for different occasions, small wardrobe. If I have more than a weeks worth of clothes for any season I have too much. It would only mean that I can let the laundry go till I have too much to do in an afternoon. Think about clothes like dishes. If you went out and bought dishes every time you didn’t want to wash your dishes you still would need to wash them eventually, but now look at how many dishes you have to wash. Will it take an hour, couple hours or even all day? So the less I own the less I have to work at maintaining my “things”.
- And finally, about those things I will need to buy again? Well I’ve only needed one thing in the last six months and that was a drill. But I didn’t have a drill to begin with. So I did what people used to do, I borrowed it from my son! Now I have loaned out things to others from items I’ve kept. They include an extension cord, sander, crock pot, and even my car when my son’s was in being repaired so he could get to work. That’s what past generations did. They shared, they didn’t buy everything it would have been too costly.
Have you run into situations in life where you found yourself being judged and realized it wasn’t really about you?