For a long time I could stuff everything that I owned into three boxes. It was fantastic. I moved ten times during my early 20s, and each move was a breeze because it would take me about 30 minutes to completely pack up and get out of dodge. Not owning anything provided me remarkable freedom to travel and live anywhere I wanted.
But by the time I was in my late 20s, I started to buy stuff. I was newly married and wanted to set down some roots. Somehow my spending rose proportionally with my income growth. I soon became trapped by the junk I was collecting.
I started to buy nice stuff too. But instead of the nice stuff making me happier, it actually made me more anxious – like how I would internally shriek whenever someone would rest a glass of water directly onto my beautiful wooden coffee table (use a coaster, asshole!).
Owning nice stuff just freaked me out because I was always concerned about what would happen if something bad happened to it.
A few months before my startup was acquired, I created a list of things that I would buy with my newfound wealth. My list included some awesome stuff like: a Tesla Model S; upgraded bedroom set from Room&Board; 60-inch Samsung TV; and other crap – all things that I wanted at one point but couldn’t afford with my meager startup salary.
Then the acquisition went through and something funny happened: the moment I was able to afford all these fancy new items, I no longer wanted any of it. If a ding on my 2005 Honda Accord drives me nuts today, can you imagine what a paranoid freak I would be as a Tesla owner?
I didn’t want to buy new fear into my life.