The Glorious Task of Packing for a Year

How do you pack for a year? Not only were people asking me this question… but I was asking this myself.

I realized pretty quickly that the answer is: you don’t.

An interesting article happened to cross my path in the months leading up to my trip. Its title: “Everything You Own You’re in a Relationship With.” No need to brief you on the premise, the title is pretty self explanatory.

My initial desire to spend a year away had much to do with re-establishing a relationship with myself; a relationship that I had neglected for a very long time. For the greater part of my 20’s, I bounced from one relationship to another, with very little down time in between. Many, but not all, of those relationships were exhausting, too; where I’d managed to pour a lot of time and energy into the “us,” while consequently failing to address and acknowledge the “me.”

Getting back to the “me,” I believed, would start with getting rid of all my shit. Well, maybe not ALL, but certainly most of the material items that many of us, most times unknowingly, cling to. This actually started before Remote Year was even approved by my employer. It started when I moved out of my former fiance’s apartment and decided to leave him with nearly everything — from a $1,500 mattress, to my beloved bookcase, to kitchen items, art & pictures, an area rug, just to name a few. This blog isn’t meant to bash him or anyone; it was a conscious decision of mine to leave those things behind (although I certainly hope he’s enjoying that mattress…)

So, I returned home (thanks Mom) with what I considered to be the important stuff; stuff that I’ll probably need again if and when I resettle. But most importantly, I returned home with a total mindset shift. What would have otherwise seemed like an anxiety provoking, overwhelming and daunting task, all of a sudden became a great deal of fun. Packing for a year became the most glorious and exciting thing I’d do all summer. I remember thinking to myself: How AMAZING is it to have no ties to any one, any place or any thing? All I’d need to worry about this year was what I’d have on me … my backpack & my suitcase … and myself. Me. We’re getting back to me, here.

Aside from the obvious work equipment (my computer and iPad), everything else suddenly became not only disposable, but replaceable. I knew that whatever I’d need, I could get wherever I was, even if that meant giving up my Bare Minerals foundation for some crappy drugstore alternative in God-knows-what-city. It didn’t matter to me. Yes, I did bring about 10 pairs of Lululemon yoga pants… because that’s all I wear! But I used my discretion. I was selective and practical. A hoodie. A jacket. Some tanks. Couple sports bras. A pair of sneakers. Done.

And WOW, did it feel good! To not only pack up my entire suitcase, but to then realize that it was about 7 lbs underweight! Check. Me. Out.

For those of you who thought I’d share some tips & tricks on how to pack ALL THE THINGS for a year, I’m sorry to let you down. This post isn’t about that. This post is about asking yourself what you really value. This post is about the importance of putting energy into the things and places that deserve it most. At this point in my life, this does not include material objects.

I knew, in the days leading up to my trip, that I needed to let go of everything I was previously in a relationship with (my mattress, bookcase, clothes, what-have-you!) to finally work on my relationship with myself. To have that single-minded focus while traveling.

Since leaving, I’ve never felt lighter OR more focused. There’s less stuff for me to worry about, after all! And that, let me tell you, is an awesome feeling.

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