There was a programme on TV last week named 'Life Stripped Bare', and the premise of it was very interesting.
A small group of individuals had ALL their possessions taken from them, including their underwear and socks. Their whole houses were wiped of everything they owned, leaving them totally naked in a shell of a room...and feeling quite vulnerable as I'm sure you can imagine.
Each day the people taking part were allowed to claim just one item back, and it was interesting to see that it wasn't the phones, TV's and accessories that they chose, most of them just wanted something warm wrapped around them and a soft bed to sleep on. Many of the people taking part in the 21 day experiment didn't even collect their phones until a week or more into the challenge, and once they had them ...they quickly didn't really feel the need for them anymore.
But the most interesting thing to me was the reaction of one particular woman taking part. She had been bullied as a child for being fair skinned, freckly and pale and the although she chose other essential items to get her through the experience, she really missed her makeup and felt that she was less confident and visible to others without it. Almost as if she didn't matter, or wasn't a good person. She didn't want people looking at her, and if they did she presumed they were judging her negatively because she wasn't wearing any makeup. I thought it was really sad that someone of her age was still so deeply affected by the thoughts of the ignorant children who once judged her in the playground.
This programme got me to thinking, if my life were stripped bare, how would I cope? What would I really need to be happy? I am a self-confessed hoarder, even from a young age I have placed emotional attachments to things, feeling a need to collect mementos and keepsakes from the places I go to remind me of happy times.
BUT I do also have a lot of crap.... such as:
- Eyebrow growing serum (I'm 90% sure it doesn't work yet I still apply it every night)
- Three pairs of hair curlers
- Four owl mugs (I once said I liked owls and since then I seem to get one every Christmas)
- Over 50 pairs of shoes (on average I wear the same 4-6 pairs every week)
- Countless coats (predominantly because you can always find a coat that fits and it rains a LOT in the UK)
- Two pairs of unicorn slippers (similarly to point two, I like unicorns)
But none of the above items are essential to my life, or my wellbeing. So, I decided to think about the five things I would reclaim if I were to do a similar experiment (after getting hold of a onesie of some description and a mattress to sleep on):
- Tatty-bowgle (a childhood teddy that I hope to pass on to my children)
- A pencil sketch which I have in a frame, drawn by my boyfriend
- My notebook which I use to scribble in
- My purse which is sentimental in itself and also contains ticket stubs, receipts and memories I treasure
- Photo albums
When I think about it, these things are precious to me because they represent memories, and experiences - and actually those are the things I value, so even if I lost these things for good - the memories still remain.
As for the eyebrow serum and unicorns...these are examples of times where I felt insecure about my looks, or needed to pick myself up and bought something which at the time made me smile or feel better about my day (nothing wrong with that). Deep down I know these things don't define me, or make me a happier person in the long term, and to my disappointment despite the creams and serums, I still don't have luscious bushy brows or a wrinkle-free face. So why use them?
Just like the woman in the programme, I sometimes worry that if I don't put my 'face on' or wear the right things...that I'm somehow not living up to expectation (who's expectation I have no idea).
But deep down none of us wants to be judged on those exterior things anyway, we want to be judged for who we are and the good qualities we have as a person, so why does it matter what mascara or perfume I'm wearing? Truth is it really doesn't matter.
Women in particular I think are guilty of placing importance on things which actually don't matter, and feeling the need to fill their homes with things. When I moved into my flat two years ago it took a removal van and half my family to help me, whereas my boyfriend got ALL his possessions into the back of a mini cooper...in one trip! Enough said.
We're moving out in September and I'm determined to assess which things I can't live without, and which things are just not necessary to my happiness - including the brow serum!
After all, we come into this world with nothing and we leave it with nothing too - so the material possessions which come and go in between really don't represent who we are or who we're capably of being. I'm destined to be a slightly scatty girl with average brows, and that's something I'll need to live with.