Decluttering, Minimalism

Is Our Stuff A Source Of Comfort Or Contention? | A Guest Post

Today I have a special guest on the blog, Sacky. Sacky lives a somewhat unconventional life via society’s standards: living the #vanlife! Yes, Sacky lives in a van on the east coast of Australia. While this may seem like a life some of us dream of, Sacky went out and actually lives it. But doing so didn’t come with challenges.


In this post, Sacky talks about living the van life, how she came to deal with getting rid of all her stuff, and how she stays minimal living in such a small space. Thank you Sacky for sharing your story with us!


Hello! My name is Sarah or as most know me as Sacky. (Last name is Sackville..haha I know). 


Before I start, I want you to ask yourself: are you a creature of comfort or adversity?


Ponder that for a moment.


I’m a part of one of the movements of the century: that is #vanlife!



What is van life?

Van life is just what it sounds like. Selling almost all of your possessions and living life on the road in a van. Sure, you get to hit the open road each day, be constantly surrounded by nature, visiting all the sites in the country, and meet other van lifers, but there are also negatives to this style of life.


Currently, I live in a converted Toyota Hiace LWB on the east coast of Australia.



The realities of van life

Isolation: Combine van life with working online and I’m pretty isolated. And considering I’m a massive extrovert, that combination doesn’t really make sense right? It can make me go all weird in the head. However, it’s teaching me more about myself than anything else ever has. Not even the worst breakups have shaken me up like the journey into the van life lifestyle. 


Work: Without having a permanent living location, it can be hard to find work. Luckily, these days, jobs online make it easier for those of us living the van life to make money. For instance, I work as an online content manager and reviewing SUP’s .


Impact of van life: There are many things to ponder about this lifestyle, including how it shapes and affects every individual (which looks different for everyone). A lot of influence is very much in correlation to the individual’s life leading up to the choice to become a carpark hanging, minimal waste brewing, and early riser to beat the rangers, being.



However, one thing is the same for all of us. Stuff. We all had stuff before we decided to chase the sunsets and sunrises over the mountains and seas. We all had some form of relationship with our stuff. 


So how do we see our stuff?


The van life story of stuff

Do you find comfort in your kettle boiling water? No? Try taking it away and having to boil water on stove EVERY SINGLE night to do the dishes. Uncomfortable? Yes. The tea kettle can be a source of comfort, and we just don’t know.


I think that’s the hardest thing about the transition to van life. Even if you consider yourself someone who has little attachment to your belongings, you never realize how many “comforts” you’ve accumulated in your life until you are left without them (until you are sitting in your van and thinking about how nice it was to sit on a couch, for example). Honestly, the first thing I missed was the comfort that comes from curling up on a couch to watch a movie. I have a bed/couch in my van and a laptop with a portable Wifi, but, it’s just not the same. 



However, I recently moved into a house while doing some renovations on the van. It FREAKED ME OUT. I had room for things but had no things! I felt empty. I accumulated a few things and then as the time crept up to be leaving again, I felt anxious!


What was going on!? Are my things and stuff comfortable or does it create contention!?


I found the answer was: neither. Rather, it’s my perspective that does the deciding. I came to realize that the panic of feeling like you have nothing or feeling of having too many things is a brain’s warning to itself that it’s about to need to adapt. And as we all know, change is hard! 


No matter which way I view my stuff, I’ve learned that it’s okay to freak out and that I’ll be okay. I have THE MOST WONDERFUL SUPERPOWER EVER! It’s my natural, subconscious ability to adapt. And guess what, it’s not just mine, it’s yours too! We all have it! It’s how we survive. Our hardwired ability to become fluid in the face of adversity.




So, I’m not going to tell you:


“Don’t be scared of getting rid of everything, you’ll feel so free!!”


Instead, I’m going to say:


“It is OK to be worried and be scared! Because it is scary.”


When we are taught by society to find value and comfort in our stuff, it can be scary to go against that, get rid of our stuff, and find value in other things. Becoming minimal and intentional is going against the rules, which kind of makes you realize there were no rules to begin with, just guidelines so people could go into default mode. So we as a collective can stay in our comfort zones easily. 



However, when we are scared, we are faced with a choice to be brave and that kind of courage is confidence building. Have faith in your ability to adapt to have the courage to be brave. Throw it all out! Sell it, gift it, burn it!



Van life & staying minimal

  • Follow this rule: one comes in, one must go. I admit to throwing out a pair of socks once when I bought a new jacket. It doesn’t quite equal out but the principle is there.


  • Gifting: someone says “that’s cool” about one of my items, and I just give it to them. The joy people express in those moments is more than the joy that item will bring me over a longer period of time. I have learned this over time, and it is one of those things that you only learn it by doing it.


  • Everything MUST Have Multiple Purposes: in my van, nothing stays unless it can double or triple as something else (except my clothes). My climbing gear is how I hang my washing. I have a big tin bucket that is used as my shower, dish bucket, AND feast cooker for when I have friends over (don’t worry, it gets a good wash in between uses).


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I hope this has either inspired you and also lessened the fear of your transition.


Ultimately, in life, I believe you should define what you go after by one sentence: scary and exciting.


You want it to be scary AND exciting. You can choose for it to be both if you just shift that perspective and choose to have faith in it.


So, again, are you a creature of comfort or adversity?


I believe we all are both. So stop putting definitions on yourself as to why you can’t do something and go for it! Trust your human ability that you will find a way to make it all alright whether it’s going into van life or returning to normal home life after. You got this!


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