#Month 10: Quitting fast fashion - a 12 month challenge
April is over! No new clothes, but a couple of beach shoes and a scarf from Malaysia. This month I went on holiday - twice! I am one lucky girl. However, what is bothering me is that I came home feeling over-indulged rather than in harmony with myself and the world. A lot of the tastes, sights, smells and accommodation felt as though they were satisfying a need which had already been fulfilled at a more basic level rather than providing a new experience that would open my eyes to a new world.
I am also still an eager consumer. I do enjoy buying stuff and find it hard to resist in the moment. I think I need to come at this challenge from a different angle. Sorting through things and getting rid of stuff is, for me, one of the worst activities imaginable. I feel the same way about it as I used to feel when I had to tidy my room or when I had a big essay deadline at Uni. I know I will feel better once I have done it but it takes a lot of energy to force myself to do it. For example, if I am even a smidgen hungover, I excuse myself from such a strenuous activity. I don't know why I am wired that way when I know others who actually enjoy it...! As I am trying to de-crease the amount of stuff I have, I need to remember how awful it is to cut down every time I add to it.
My overriding learning this month has been: what do we really need? I have asked myself this a lot lately and come to the conclusion that I don't need that much. Certainly not the trappings of luxury and opulence. In fact, I am more content without overly ornate surroundings, people who wait on you hand and foot and a over-abundance of food. It feels removed from reality and lacks the grit or the unknown that can be so stimulating. So is it stimulation I need to feel at peace? Is that what I NEED? And what does that mean? What does it look like? I can be stimulated by walking alone just as much as talking to someone interesting or reading a good book. Defining what I need is more difficult than I initially thought. Of course we all need the basics: water, air, food, shelter etc. But I am more interested in what we need spiritually and mentally.
To answer this tricky question, I have taken time to think about it a lot and I have spoken to people. Maslow's hierarchy of need is probably the most cited theory on this topic. He proposed that there are typically five layers of need for "healthy" humans.
Here is Maslow's pyramid which has been discussed in sociological, psychological and management thinking.
I soon came to realise that most of my outstanding "needs" are clustered at the top of the triangle. I crave spontaneity, creativity, mental stimulation and problem solving. Realising this, I accept that I must have all my other needs met in order to be able to concentrate on the self-fulfilment layer. I really don't need anything extra in terms of food, clothes, sleep etc which goes some way to explaining why an abundance of these things does not result in a feeling of self-fulfilment or self-actualisation. In other words, give me a piece of paper and a pen (and time) rather than a 5 course meal because it will fulfil a need I actually do have and result in self-actualisation. What a revelation!