Every now and then I just like to sit down and jot down some thoughts. Thoughts that slowly but certainly turn into a story that sometimes I share on this blog and on many occasions I don’t (true story, my phone is filled with stories/thoughts […]
After my last post I received quite a lot of questions about the progress on my decluttering plans, so I thought it might as well be nice to give you a bit of an update on that matter. The short version is: it’s going well. That doesn’t make much of an interesting blog post, does it? So here’s a lengthy version:
I think my search for a more meaningful way to spend my money and to live a more meaningful life in general started when at the beginnen of 2016 Lennart and I suddenly had to leave our house. A bit of a shock, because we had just decided to not move closer to the city center, because the house we were living in had so many benefits: it was large, relatively cheap (as houses in Amsterdam are never really cheap, but you get the jist) and location-wise very convenient for both Lennart and me, when it comes to commuting. Anyway, as if being forced to move isn’t stressful enough, we found a house, got they keys to our new place and moved all our possessions within a week. As I said: a stressful situation indeed, but to be honest: it brought me more that I could have ever imagined. Let me explain.
The moment we heard we had to move out, I decided to divide our huge task (MOVE!) into many smaller tasks. Like compartmentalization. Compartmentalization started off as an architectural theory; when you divide a building in different sections, each of which can be closed off separately to prevent a potention fire from spreading further, this technique can also be applied on several other aspects in life. In fact, it makes everything much easier. In this case: moving all the stuff we owned wouldn’t make sense: we were moving from quite a large apartment just outside the city center of Amsterdam to a much smaller one in the city center. So we started breaking up the huge task of moving everything we own into smaller tasks; declutter per space. First one up: the walk in closet (a huge task, especially when keeping in mind that I had one entire room filled with shoes and clotes, but also an extra room filled with ‘stuff’ I planned on selling/giving away).
Honestly, moving houses is the best thing that could have happened to me, decluttering-wise. I have to admit that instead of taking pride in my so-called double-walk-in-closet, I was started to feel more and more ashamed of all the clutter I collected. Of how much I buried myself with clothes and shoes and accessories I didn’t need. Of how much I was being distracted by owning so much stuff, that I forgot to value the things that are most important in life (newsflash: they’re not even ‘things’!). My house became a storage space, instead of a living space. And that didn’t make me proud.
I’m not saying it was easy, but the feeling of being forced to declutter really opened my eyes. I’m one of those people who attaches memories to all her belongings. Those shoes that I wore on that wonderful trip. That dress that I wore to my grandad’s funeral. That bag that I bought from my first salary. You get what I mean, right? But soon I came to realize that those items are not real memories, because memories happen in your head. Besides that, I realized I’d much rather have extra space and time in my new house than extra stuff. So that’s why I can tell you that there and then I got rid of approximately 75% of all the things I own. Clothes, shoes, but also books, souvenirs, decorations, make-up, heaps of unnecessary things. The feeling? Liberating. So, so, SO liberating. Have you ever tried this yourself? Is this story relatable to you? Curious to know :)
Being looked at on a daily basis, makes me want to look as myself. When I see a current picture of myself – either a blog photo or a family snap shot – I still always get the same feeling I used to have when our school pictures were taken in primary school. That awkward moment of other people looking at you and how you think you look best in pictures. How you show the smile you practiced in front of a mirror a dozen times already, but somehow doesn’t come across the same way when you have to replicate it on front of a bunch of those staring eyes. I’ve never liked having my pictures taken. And yes, I know that sounds incredibly weird coming out of a blogger’s mouth, but it might have something to do with the fact that I know that as soon as a picture is out there, it’s being judged by every single person that will lay his/her eyes on it. Including my worst and most harsh critic: me.
I have to admit that even the harshest critic in the world (yup, me again!) apparently can soften up a little bit. When I look at my old pictures now, I’m not as mean about my own appearance anymore. I can even focus on the things I (kind of..) like about myself and what I looked like. It saddens me a little bit that this isn’t always happening with my current pictures. Will I have to wait for years to be able to see my current pictures as beautiful too? I’m more and more starting to believe I won’t.
I think it all boils down to the fact that lately I’ve been redefining what beauty actually means to me, simply because I don’t want to waste more time of my life bitching on how I look. Or worse: focusing on how I don’t look. I’ve never even met a person whom I thought bad things about like I used to think bad things about myself. I started to realise that it’s something I did on a daily basis without even realising it at that point. So I made myself realise it. And made myself realise it again. I’m not saying I’m am where I want to be right now, but somehow I’m in a much better place. The secret? Training. Not for the sake of losing weight. Not for the sake of looking like a pro athlete. Not because I hate my body.. but because I love it more than I used to. It can be scary to find out I’ve been wrong about something, but I can’t be afraid to change my mind, to accept that sometimes things are different than I thought. And that they’ll never be the same, for better or for worse. I had to be willing to give up what I used to believe to find myself exactly where I belong.
As you all know by now, I started training about a year ago. I’ve always been the sporty type, but I wanted to rekindle that fire for sports in a different way. As Nike’s training campaign suggests: Stop Exercising, Start Training. I wanted to see what my body was capable of if I were to set my mind to it. And boy, did I learn a lot about myself: I am a strong woman and pretty damn proud of it.
I came to understand that the look of my body doesn’t necessarily have to be an outcome of my physical efforts, neither should it be an antithesis of the skinny body ideal we’ve grown to become so familiar with. My body is just mine. It’s who I am, but it doesn’t only define who I am. It’s capable of so much more than I ever would have dreamed of. It was probably there all along, but I had to say goodbye to the old me in order to reconnect with what had become the new me. And who I want to be. Getting ready for another week of trainings as we speak. I’m ready.
This blog post was written in collaboration with Nike Training, but needless to say: all opinions and experiences are my own. Oh and that good looking trainer? That’s Claudio. As soon as I got the chance to duo-shoot this collab for Nike I knew I wanted to shoot this piece of content with one of the few people that were able to convince me I could actually do things like this. That I’m always stronger and capable of more than I expected. So thank, Clau! You rock!