I have a Monster inside me. This Monster likes to hoard things- stationery, papers, notebooks, pens, even food.
I was born with it- the Monster and I are one, but I fed it over the years and now it is a bloated, ugly thing.
Even as a kid, the Monster festered inside. As a kid, every Sunday my parents would take me to Gift Gate in Greenhills. At the time it was the only retailer of Sanrio goods like Hello Kitty pencil cases, pencils, and pads. I would buy one with my weekly allowance, where I would carefully store them. I never used them. The piles of pink pencils and plastic grew and accumulated dust in storage bins.
Twenty years later they still lay in my cabinets until I gave them to my sister, who promptly sharpened them. That’s the difference between Bea and me- Bea’s not afraid to use her things, while I fear running out, so I use them as sparingly as possible.
I have an inkling of how the Monster started taking over my life. Growing up in Indonesia in the 1990’s, my family could only travel to the Philippines once a year. At that time, Indonesia had very little in terms of books or imported and Filipino foods. During our annual visits, I would stock up on as many books as possible, while my mother would fill her cupboard with cans of Filipino sausages, hams, and ingredients. That was the beginning of the hoarding habit.
When I lived in the US, I would hoard art supplies and comics that I couldn’t find in the Philippines. When I came home, I carried about $300 worth of extra luggage in Bristol boards, brushes, and inks that I haven’t used yet- and this was ten years ago!
Even now the Monster demands to be fed. I continue to collect notebooks, papers, and pens- more than I can use. Like a dragon guarding its treasure, I sit atop a mound of baubles that, honestly, I’ve probably lost interest in.
I am trying to rein the Monster in; I try limiting myself to a certain purchase a month, or occasionally destashing my hoard. It doesn’t always work. I keep obsessing over things I want to buy but can’t afford, or can’t justify.
I have to change my priorities. I’d like to travel, for instance. I’d like to gain new experiences. I’d like to be able to draw and paint without worrying where the next sheet of watercolor paper is coming from, or where I can get a new bottle of ink when the old one runs out. I can’t do that if I continue to buy small, inconsequential things that just take up space in my cabinets, anchoring me to them, wasting money on small trickles that turn into rivers.
Sure, I’ll still buy things I like, but in smaller quantities. I’ll think doubly hard about whether I can use something. I’ll spend on quality things. I refuse to buy something for the sake of buying it or satisfying the Monster’s urge.
Most importantly, I’ll use everything I have at the moment. The hoarding must stop.
The New Year is a fresh start, and the Monster inside needs to change along with me.