Students in Stephanie Natale-Boianelli’s Composition I classes this fall read essays from the This I Believe project (www.thisibelieve.org) and examined what they revealed about effective writing. Students then wrote their own This I Believe essays. Atlantic Cape CommuniCator will share some of the best essays. This essay comes from Christine Coffineau, a General Studies major with a love for minimalization:
Too Much Stuff
I believe in minimalization. My needs versus my wants have never been a difficult choice. To live I need air, water, and shelter, and most importantly, I need to give and receive love. I do not have many wants.
I believe the more I own, the more I do not know what I own. No matter how well I organize and store my belongings, what is out of sight is out of mind. I cannot recall ever having said, “Oh my gosh, I completely forgot I had this.” I know everything I have because I do not have a lot of stuff.
I believe “stuff” is a dirty word: a thief of time. The more stuff I have the more time I spend using it. Otherwise, what’s the point of having it? For example, I lived without a television for four years, and I accomplished so much that I vowed never to have one again. Sure, I love an Academy Award winning movie or documentary occasionally, but in my opinion, the rest of television programming is pure nonsense. I refuse to let that “thing” steal my precious time.
I believe in living simply and having more time for simply living. The less I have the happier I am because when I complicate my life with material things I feel weighed down. I am not the only one who feels this way. Many people testify that decluttering their homes lifts a heavy weight off their shoulders. These folks are not hoarders; they are mentally stable and everyday people like me, just with more room in our closets.
I believe shopping distresses me. I have difficulty choosing what to buy because there is too much from which to choose. I cannot “just go shopping.” I buy only if I need something specific, or for a special occasion, and if I can’t find it…I am outta there! My more fashionable girlfriends tell me my wardrobe is “criminal,” and it’s true, but that doesn’t bother me. I admit, I still have clothes that I wore in high school thirty-three years ago, and they still fit! I am very proud of that fact. Am I a miser? No. Am I cheap? No way. Am I thrifty? Heck yeah! I find unique treasures at the second-hand stores.
I believe that not having a lot of stuff helps me hold onto the rewards of my labor—money. When I was a teenager, my father taught me an old Neapolitan saying about money. “Stipe che trova,” which translated means, “Save it and you’ll find it.” If I do not save my money, it will not be there when I go to look for it. I don’t have much else to do with money except save it and donate some of it to people whose needs are greater than mine are. In doing so, I remind myself of the few luxuries I am fortunate to have.
I believe that my relationship with God and all the living things He created is far more valuable than my relationship with an object. My church, my family, my boyfriend, my friends and total strangers deserve my attention. I can give them more of myself if I’m not crushed by the demands of stuff. A true minimalist’s creed is, “I can share love with someone, but not with something.”