It is also symptomatic. While there are many useful reasons to rent storage facilities, for the most part we have them because we own too much stuff.
I went through my house during the last month with another sweep of decluttering inspired by some of the minimalist blogs I've been reading.
And this sweep was much, much harder than any of the ones that have gone before.
This time I got rid of things that had value.
Things I felt guilty about paying too much for.
Things that couldn't be easily replaced.
But this is what I found.
None of it had been used in the past two years.
Much of it was purchased to fulfill a need the item didn't deliver on.
Much was related to the person I've been in the past and won't serve me in my future.
Two elements worked against me in this round of decluttering: 1) aversion to loss, and 2) identity.
We hate loss. It is the psychological premise upon which the game show Deal or No Deal is based on. I was really surprised at how difficult it was to let go of things I knew I had paid too much for. Know how you've paid too much for something? When you can't get that same value back out of it. It's a $400 dehydrator that you can only sell on Craigslist for $100. (Or a $400 hairpiece that you can't even sell.)
I was also surprised by how many of the items I let go of in this round impacted the way I see my identity. Either the items made me feel irresponsible for buying them in the first place or that used to support activities in my life that were once a key part of who I was and am no longer.
This is what I came to realize: 1) hanging onto those items doesn't mean that they are not a loss, and 2) letting go of them does not impact my identity.
Leo Babauta who wrote The Power of Less says, "Without letting go, there is no simplicity."
Stuff can overwhelm us, and perhaps our biggest blind spot is camouflaged by storage units and systems for better organization. At some point, if we want to have enough space in our life (homes, schedules, workplaces) to do the things that really matter to us we have to learn to let go. And as I learned this month, that requires sucking it up and accepting the loss and in rethinking what really makes up my identity.