Let me get this straight: I LOVE books. I adore books. Books are my life and reading good books is one of the few reasons that make my life worth living.
That said, I came to a point in my life wherein I decided to dispose of my books, keeping only a handful of them. I did it mainly because I wanted to adopt the minimalist lifestyle and get rid of things that no longer give value to me. Don’t get me wrong — I loved my books, but 1) most of them were children’s books and no longer appealed to me and 2) I’ve re-read them so many times over the years that I’ve memorised most of their stories.
So, I decided to pull them down from my shelves and sort them into three groups: the Must-Have books, the I-No-Longer-Want-to-Keep books and the Hmmm-Maybe-I-Still-Want-These-But-Would-Have-To-Think-About-It books. Eventually most of those in the third group made their way to the second, and I ended up with 20 or so books that I really wanted to keep.
Now that I knew which hardcovers and paperbacks I no longer wanted/needed, I sorted them again, this time into two groups. I set aside those that I wanted to give to my nieces and nephews and my best friend, which means the books that were left in the pile can now be put on sale. So I took pictures of them then headed over to olx.ph, where I made an account and created listings for my books.
I expected to wait for weeks or even months before I could make a sale, but whoa — I received a text message from a buyer just a few hours after I posted my stuff! To make a long story short, I ended up delivering my books to six random strangers and selling the rest to colleagues and ex-colleagues (who heard about my spur-of-thee-moment book sale through Facebook).
My little adventure left me with several empty shelves — and some realisations. I’ve listed them below:
Realisation #1: Selling is addictive.
My mom is a natural saleswoman. She loves talking to people and telling them about different products and convincing them to buy from her. I, on the other hand, am interested in sales as much as a dog is interested in learning how to play the violin. Which is why I didn’t really get why Mom got so excited when she sold something.
That is, until I got around to selling my books and experiencing the so-called “salesman’s high”. For someone who hasn’t really sold anything to anyone, I loved the adrenaline rush that I got from advertising my books and getting paid for them, and it made me want to sell things over and over again. I even got to the point where I regretted setting low prices for my books. “If I’d known that they were going to sell like pancakes,” I thought, “I would have offered them at a higher price tag.”
Fortunately, it was at that moment when I realised how wrong I was. There’s nothing bad about wanting to sell your books because you need the money, but that’s not the reason why I was letting go of my hardcovers and paperbacks. I was selling them so I could reduce the clutter in my room and open my life to more possibilities. If I had offered my books at higher prices, nobody would have wanted to buy them and I’d still be left with piles of stuff I no longer want.
So here’s a piece of advice to those who find themselves in my position: if you’re selling your books (or any other type of item) because you want to adopt minimalist principles, close your eyes and offer everything at the lowest possible price you can stomach. Remember that’s it’s not about money but rather about minimalism. Don’t give in to the adrenaline rush that comes with “salesman’s high”; if you want to remove clutter from your life, find a way to dispose of your stuff in a quick and efficient way.
Realisation #2: Your possessions do weigh you down.
“It’s a humbling experience to have to physically carry everything you own; only then can you truly feel how much your belongings weigh on you.” I read this sentence a few months ago when I stumbled upon this great article in MissMinimalist.com, but it didn’t really mean much to me until I tried to lug around 20 pounds worth of books.
Okay, so I didn’t really know exactly how heavy my books were because we don’t have a weighing scale at home. But here’s what I can say: I almost sprained my ankle and had an asthma attack while delivering books to buyers (I met one in IT Park, one in Elizabeth Mall, another in Starbucks Colon, another in Highway Mandaue and another in SM Cebu — but not in the same day, of course!).
While lugging those books around, I realised that your stuff can definitely weigh you down. Physically, they tie you down to one place and make it difficult for you to travel to different countries or move to your favourite city. Mentally and emotionally, they can drain your spirit as you strive to keep up with the clutter they cause and keep your place clean and organised. Financially, they can drill a hole in your wallet since it’s easy to feel pressured to upgrade your smartphone/tablet/laptop to the latest model or buy designer dresses, bags and shoes.
Lesson learned: Like Miss Minimalist, I will strive to pare down my belongings until they can all fit into one backpack and will no longer weigh down my soul (or at least dislocate my shoulder).
Realisation #3: Selling your stuff can convince you to stop hoarding stuff.<
I guess I already made my point that lugging books around isn’t a freaking walk in the park. And this taught me another thing: when you realise just how heavy your stuff are, how difficult it is to advertise secondhand products and how hard it can be to find interested buyers, you’ll come to see how wrong it is to be a pack rat. You’ll see the error of your ways. You’ll learn to prioritise your purchases, buy only the things you really need and avoid getting tempted by some random sparkly items or 70-percent-off products that catch your eye.
This is what happened to me. The minute I realised how challenging it is to sell my books, I promised myself that I would no longer hoard them. I’ll kick the habit of going into Booksale, thumbing through the books one by one until I gather a huge pile and buying every single one of them because they’re cheap. (Please don’t get me wrong; I LOVE and ADORE Booksale and think they’re the best thing that has ever happened to Filipino book lovers.)
Instead, I’ll pick a title that I think is interesting then do my research, read book reviews and meditate for several to decide if it’s worth buying. This way, I won’t fill my shelves with random books that I don’t really like, and I’ll no longer be plagued by buyers’ remorse. Of course, I’ll get to invest in books that would be relevant to me for years and will fill my head and heart with new knowledge and great stories. And that’s what minimalism really is all about, anyway: removing the unnecessary stuff to create more space for the things that really matter.