As Americans, we have a certain idea of what our lives are supposed to be like based on how society has portrayed the “average person”. We picture a separate house with a yard, a couple of cars in the driveway, and a secure job that we go to every day that pays the bills and gives us enough extra to have a little fun. This isn’t a bad view of life, but the problem is that we tend to think of it as the only view of how life should be. It doesn’t necessarily have to be this way.
I’ve struggled with what is “normal” for a long time. Following the rules set by others tends to irritate me, placing arbitrary limits on what I want to do in an attempt to force me into the box that everyone else lives in. The problem is that for the most part I don’t really like being in that box, crammed in with so many people. I tend to want to escape; to find some space to do my own thing in my own way and be free from the expectations of others. Some people would call this a “loner”, but in reality no one is an island.
Where we can start to exert some of our own individuality in our life choices is in what jobs we choose and in what dwelling options we decide to take advantage of. Some people choose the standard, cookie-cutter life never knowing that there are other options out there. When you look around the world, you can see a multitude of examples of different ways of living, from primitive farming to “earth ships” to sailing the seven seas. There are so many options.
The way you choose to go will primarily depend on what type of personality you have. If you like having lots of things around you, that limits your options quite a bit. You may need a full size house to store all the things you want to keep. Even if you aren’t into keeping memorabilia or similar things, just having room for things like major appliances and entertainment setups requires a more traditional living situation.
On the other hand, perhaps you are more like me and as you get older you start wanting to find ways to simplify your life. Having all that stuff is great for a time, but as you gather more and more and your living situation becomes cluttered, you might begin to feel like it’s time to downsize. When you get to the point where the life you chose is starting to suffocate you, it might be time to start thinking about how to minimize your life.
I went through this after my marriage ended. I realized all the stuff I had to deal with separating my life from another person, and as I looked back on my life before that I shuddered at the amount of effort required to move all that so many times. My vague recollection of that era is that we never spent more than two years in any one home, so moving was a regular occurrence. Getting an entire household of goods from one location to another requires quite a bit of effort, which you either need to put in yourself or pay someone else to do.
My current way of thinking is to put myself into a situation where even if I end up having to move around a lot, I don’t have to do much to make it happen. Part of the reason I purchased a travel trailer to live in was the potential for adventure, but and even bigger reason was the fact that to move myself from one place to another simply requires closing the slides, putting everything away, hooking it up to a truck and driving away. An hour or less and I’m on my way. Compare that to four to six hours of loading a truck and then the same thing to unload it on the other side. It isn’t much of a contest for me.
The real point isn’t that everyone should be selling their stuff and their homes and getting as basic as possible. What I’m really getting at is that you don’t have to follow the pattern template that we’re told is “normal” when deciding how to live your life. As long as it works for you, that’s all that really matters. What you should really be doing is thinking about what you want and considering options outside of what you think might work. You’ll be surprised at just how many doors are open to you.
What do you think about downsizing your life? Do you have too many things and are ready to pare things down? Or are you happy with what you have? Sometimes you reach a point where you really want to make a change, but you might be afraid to think outside the box. You might not need as much as you think to live the kind of satisfying life you crave.
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