Monday, December 31, 2012

My 2013 New Year's Project (With nails somewhere at the end)

Everyone who reads my blog likely has far more stuff in their life than they need.  I, for one, have collected probably somewhere around 400 bottles of nail polish in the past 5-7 years, and I have no intention of disowning any of them any time soon.  However, this does not particularly mean that I have to add to that number.  Last year I made a rule that I could only buy nail polish that was a good deal on clearance (no $4.99 marked down to $4.19 "clearance"), a limited edition color that I really liked, etc.  However, I've come to realize that there will always be colors I don't have that I really like.  There will always be clearance polish that doesn't look like something I already have.  But I don't need it.  I have enough nail polish to last several people several life times.  And yes, it is what I do for fun.  I don't regret owning it.  I still use a lot more of mine than most people can believe, with all the different designs I do.  It's nice to be able to find the exact, or almost exact, colors for any nail art I think up.  My nails are the one thing I do where I actually utilize variety, as opposed to my makeup, which, if I do anything at all, is neutral and understated, and my wardrobe, since I frequently pass up all the cute things in my closet for jeans and hoodie.

I don't want to own any more, though.  I want to be happy using what I have.  There will always be something I think I might use for something.  And when I get it into my head that I want a certain design, I frequently will end up being bothered by the idea of it until I do it.  But at this point, if it came down to it, I could probably mix just about any color I needed, even if it wasn't quite the exact finish I wanted, and make something close enough to do my nail art.

Beyond nail polish, in just about every aspect of my life, I am a master of excess.  I save practically useless things in the event that I might use them for something someday.  My habits over the past several years have led to me possessing a whole lot of stuff that could eventually be useful in a very specific and unlikely scenario.  In addition to that, there's a whole lot of stuff I would totally use, if I ever got around to fixing it.  Clothing I find at thrift stores that I would wear all the time, if only it fit a little differently.  But because I have so many clothes already, I don't really prioritize the alterations I intend to do, and it sits in a pile indefinitely.

This blog post nicely summarizes my attempted change in thought process over the past year or two.  I did make significant progress in going from "Well it's cheap, and I might use it for x" to "Okay how likely is it that I'll ever encounter a x?"  But this year, I'd like to make it, "Do I even need x?"  The answer is probably no.  Yes, I'm sure there are articles of clothing that will be donated to Goodwill that I would love and wear often.  But I don't need them.  I have plenty of clothing I already like wearing just fine.  If I really wanted to, I have plenty of fabric I could sew into new clothing.

A little over a year and a half ago, I met a guy who started the shift in my habits from no regard for the extent to which I lived in excess, to the conscious thought process of trying to eliminate it from my life.  But at that point, at least somewhat, what I did was because I felt he demanded of me.  I had no problem with that, because I wholeheartedly agree that minimalism is a good think for which to aim.  But now I'm finally making it all me.  This isn't to impress anyone, though I hope I might inspire others to take similar--if smaller--steps in their own lives.  One of the best feelings I had was getting rid of probably 75% of the clothing and makeup I owned at that time.  I have not once missed a single thing I gave away.  This past summer, I gave away a significant amount of the clothing that I did wear sometimes, and I did enjoy wearing, but either had other things similar, or nothing similar enough to justify keeping it around on the off chance I decided to plan an outfit around it.  I have also not once that I can recall missed any of those things, either.

So I encourage you all this year, to take a step back, look at your life, and try to target areas where you live in excess that brings no significant enjoyment to you.  For many of those who read my blog, those areas probably do not include nail polish and cosmetics.  That's fine.  Look for other areas to try to minimize spending and consumption.  My motivation comes, well, largely from being a broke college student, but beyond that, from a concern for the rate at which the planet is consuming resources.

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better.  It's not.

I do not wish to contribute to that cycle any more than necessary.  Maybe the way you can make your change is by biking to work/school rather than driving, or biking to get groceries, when the weather allows.  Not only does that save you money on gas, you get exercise, and biking is just pretty darn fun!  For those who don't regularly explore them, thrift stores can be a great way to add interesting pieces to your wardrobe, without consuming new goods, and at a fraction of the cost.  Possibly a bit "extreme" depending on your personal preferences, I'd still recommend checking out both /r/frugal and /r/Anticonsumption on Reddit.  Even if you don't follow every single bit of advice posted (I certainly by no means come close), maybe you'll find something really useful for your particular situation.

Now for my personal goal.  In the year 2013, I aim to buy no more than 1 superfluous item per month.  What I do buy will be used or secondhand, if at all possible.  I will ride my bike wherever feasible, rather than driving.  (When I limit myself to riding my bike, I end up around stores a lot less, and in wheat fields a lot more.  I just really hate stop lights.)  I may eventually add more to this after consulting my bff at Nanjing Morning (who, by the way, lied to me and said she was going to start posting again today.  Or possibly it's the middle of the night in China.  It probably is.  I'm bad at time zones), but for now, this is the basic outline of what I want to do with my life for the next year.  As much as I'd like to add eating vegan and lots of other things that are not exceptionally practical given my living in the dorm, there will be other areas of my life where I am attempting changes rather than issuing ultimatums.

I have already (earlier this year as well as since being home for Christmas break) gone through my closet and room in general and donated anything I don't use regularly.  I will continue to do so on a somewhat regular basis, and I would encourage others to do the same.  Really think about when the last time you used something was, and how likely you are to miss it if it were gone.

And for anyone who wasn't bored into exiting after finding all that rambling on what turned into a nail polish blog (if you read my original posts, this blog started out a lot more like this, then turned into nail art), here's the manicure I did while taking breaks writing this, trying to figure out what I was trying to say and how to say it.

This is three coats of a Love & Beauty polish from Forever21 called Mint, but their polish selection changes so quickly, I'm not sure they'd still have this, as I got it over a year ago.  It's a pretty medium seafoam green, with gold shimmer.  I'd been wanting to try a bottom glitter gradient for a while, and this was the perfect chance, as I smudged the base of one of the nails on my other hand.  I used e.l.f. Twinkle, but that hardly showed at all, followed by Sinful Colors I Miss You.  I really love how it turned out, but unfortunately, with the numerous layers, it got goopier than I'd wanted, and a couple of my nails have smudged already because they're taking forever to dry :(

It would have been nice to have broken 10,000 blog views as of today, but I'm not quite there yet, so a slightly less dramatic, but no less heartfelt, thank you to everyone who has shown their interest in what I post here.

So again, I hope that something in this post might have inspired you to make a change in your own life this year--and hopefully permanently.  Whether it be buying less, or simply taking on the challenge of using every nail polish, cosmetic item, article of clothing, or whatever, at least once this year.  When you make changes that really matter to you, you don't end up feeling constrained, you feel liberated.

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