Declutter Your Fantasy Self

Happy to visit castles, rather than live in one!

Once upon a time (a long time ago), I had a fantasy self. She was an aficionado of antique chandeliers, vintage beaded dresses, fine china, and silver tea sets; I think she fancied one day she would marry a prince and live out her days in a British castle or manor house.

Charming as she was, after dragging her stuff thousands of miles in a cross-country move, I had to kick her out. And it’s a good thing I did—because even though I eventually married a prince (metaphorically) and moved to England (literally), my 400-square-foot flat would have never accommodated her lavish accoutrements.

Ironically enough, decluttering my fantasy self gave me the freedom and resources to turn my dreams into reality.

Do you have a fantasy self? And if so, how much of your clutter belongs to it?

All too often, we hold on to stuff because it represents who we think we should be, rather than who we are. Sometimes our fantasy selves are meant to impress others; sometimes they’re relics of our past; sometimes they’re fantasies about our future.

Whatever the case, it’s important to remember: acquiring stuff for your fantasy self doesn’t make it a reality. Most of the time, it only leads to a lot of “nice” clutter you never actually use.

Is your fantasy self…

* A culinary diva who has the pots, pans, gadgets, and gizmos to whip up any dish or confection under the sun…
when your real self would rather order takeout?

* A socialite with a closet full of cocktail dresses, with shoes and bags to match…
when the social event of your week is going to the coffee shop?

* A fitness guru with a treadmill, yoga mat, Pilates equipment, and a wardrobe of exercise clothes…
when the most rigorous workout you’ve had lately is taking the stairs?

* An all-star athlete with a garage full of sports gear…
when you’re more likely to catch a game on TV?

* A knitter/sewer/scrapbooker/woodworker extraordinaire with enough supplies to fill a craft store…
when you rarely ever complete a project?

* A DIYer with a workbench stocked with equipment and tools…
when you usually call a handyman if something breaks?

* A globetrotter with premium luggage and travel gear…
when you’d rather curl up on the couch and watch a Rick Steve’s DVD?

* A bigwig executive with expensive suits, silk ties, and luxury watches…
when you wear khakis and a polo shirt to work?

* A cello virtuoso with a library of sheet music…
when you haven’t picked up the instrument since high school?

* The trusted keeper of your family’s history and heirlooms…
when you’d prefer to shove those dusty boxes of junk in the attic?

Storing our fantasy selves’ stuff isn’t fair to our real selves—not only does it make us feel like failures, it takes away the space and time we could devote to uncovering our true passions and potential.

So as you’re decluttering, give the boot to your fantasy self and all its accessories—it’s not giving up on your dreams, it’s making way for real ones!

Are you dealing with your fantasy self’s clutter? Tell us about it in the Comments.

{If you’d like to learn more about minimalist living, please consider reading my book, The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide, or subscribing to my RSS feed.}

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195 comments to Declutter Your Fantasy Self

  • Bonglecat

    Wow, I can’t believe that there are other people like me and I never knew!!

    Yes, I have had lots of fantasy me’s, I have often thought perhaps I should be an actress so that I can actually play them out. Right from being a teenager I collected cocktail dresses for the fabulous parties I would (never) attend, I bought jodphurs for horse riding and only went pony trekking once! I dressed in sharp, big shoulder suits and high heels because I thought I was Alexis Carrington but I was actually going to community college not board meetings. Thankfully I never made it to the annual school ski-ing trip otherwise I would ahve bought the full gear for one trip.

    Even now I have a beautiful eight place Wedgewood dinner service for all the dinner parties I was supposed to host (never have) and crystal wine goblets yet I never drink at home. I finally realised what I was doing when I read your book The Joy of Less and am now working on getting rid of these things, I’ve already passed on my sketch pads, paints and a myriad of kitchen gadgets.

  • Nice post…

    Before walking on the path of minimalism; I had hundreds of small things from different countries that many people brought for me. I kept all of them and wanted to use them one day… Well the day never came. I still remember that I kept one foreign nail-paint for some special occasion for so long that finally it became hard and I had to throw it.

    Thanks to minimalism and your blog that my Fantasy self is already clutter free. :)

  • Loulou

    Excellent post. Thought-provoking and sobering. It takes courage to ask these questions of oneself and face the truth.

  • This is a good post. I definitely do the same thing sometimes. I was much worse before but I think now that I am an adult I felt press to act grown up and own grown up things that my mom owns even if I am nothing like my mom and we strive towards completely different lifestyles, she had a husband, 2 kids and dog, I am a single, professional woman who is not interested in settling down for awhile. She set up roots at 20 years old and I would rather travel the world and not commit to anything for awhile. I definitely feel better when I am not weighed down by fancy and useless kitchen gadgets and utensils or a way too expensive apartment that eats my whole paycheck when I really don’t want to stay in this town much longer.

  • Three cheers for kicking out our fantasy selves Francine! :)

    How fun you got to visit a castle though, that’s pretty cool. (I just watched I Capture the Castle last night on netflix. It’s not a princess movie, but it does have a castle in it. :)

    I have eradicated many, many fantasy selves from my life since I started the decluttering journey. I’m pretty sure there was a princess lurking in there too! The only fantasy self I’ve held onto (in the form of possessions that I don’t currently use) are our sleeping bags, tent and sleeping pads. I just know I’m going to turn back into “rugged outdoor hiker/camper girl” again. I may be 50 when I do it, but it’s one dream I’m not letting go of! :)

    Luv it!

  • Once upon a time in Fantasy World, I was Carrie Bradshaw. Now I am the Wardrobe Shopper of Tasmania X

  • Robin

    I’m like that, too. I used to ride horses to earn money for school, but haven’t done so seriously in 10 years. I still have all the gear in the basement, though, and it some of the leather is cracked and dry (and, hate to admit, one piece has mold spots). I tossed all that needed tossing, and donated the rest to a rainbow riders group (riding for physically handicapped children). Being a rider is who Robin was, but I’d like to see now that I have freed myself from the clutter, who Robin will be….

  • Oh, this post really hits home for me! A few years ago, I helped an elderly relative downsize to fit in a smaller apartment – she had been quite the hostess once upon a time, and even though she hadn’t entertained for years, she still had several complete sets of dishes… As for me, I recently realized that I have a number of outfits that would only be appropriate for a “summer garden party” – not sure that I’ve ever been to one of those!!

    I also definitely have too many craft supplies. I’ve been trying to “use them up.” But… when I do that, it feels a whole lot less like a fun hobby, and a whole lot more like work!

  • Laura

    This post is very powerful for me. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about who I really am, and your writing helped me see how so much of my stuff is a manifestation of my fantasy selves, not the real, authentic me.

    Thank you.

  • dianon

    how guilty i, and my many selves were of this!
    i would become angel— jo— , tall and thin, if i wore her favorite perfume,(never mind that i’m 5’2″ and have italian shaped genes).
    and how i would be jackie o if i got a handbag like her.
    then there was my edith piaf phase, i’d wear red lipstick, smoke and then i could sing just like her!
    yes, fantasy and i could easily go to drug store and come out with creams to make me tall, thin and naturally blonde.
    years later i am who i am, and living happily ever after.

  • Francine, you are so eloquent! There were a few things on your list that really rang true to me: why am I the family historian, lugging around pictures that I always mean to put into scrapbooks or albums? And now is the time to finally get rid of all my knitting stuff–I made a big dent in it last year but haven’t picked up the needles since then. Finally, you’re making me reconsider the time I just don’t have to practice my flute. It was a “fantasy-self” that requires daily dedicated practice, and I can’t do it if I live in a co-op so close to neighbors and work full-time.

    You look so happy in your picture with the castle–that’s what life is all about. Congrats! :)

  • Tiffany

    You just inspired me to sell my acoustic guitar. Once upon a time I had a vision of myself playing and singing under a tall tree. Problem is I can’t sing. And I haven’t taken the time to learn it.

    To Craigslist it goes!!!

  • I think I have a fantasy self in each one of those departments you listed! Luckily, my natural minimalist wins out.

  • Thank you for this post Francine! It speaks volumes about why we hold on to things. We all day dream about becomming something else, buying things to help us create the image. Your blog and book has been one to continue to inspire myself and now my husband to let go of fantasy and create our reality! We’ve been in the process of clearing out on a two year plan (one year in now) and looking forward to downsizing our acreage soon!

    More experiences, less stuff! Carpe Diem!

  • Judy

    Love it!!! (minimalism in my response too :) Aren’t you proud of me?

  • Sarah

    This one’s tricky. Sometimes you lug around the weight and guilt of unfulfilled fantasies and it’s better to just get rid of them. But sometimes the stuff lurking is what you truly want, but you haven’t had the space or time to devote to it. Decluttering the junk allows that interest to flourish.

    I find decluttering is the hardest when I’m in such an iffy mood or unbalanced place in my life that I can’t tell the difference.

    • Exactly! I, for example, have a pair of knitting needles and some wool stashed under my bed somewhere that I’ve not touched in years. I never made anything special but I enjoyed it all the same. Now I COULD just get rid of them – but once a lot of my stuff is gone and I have time to just BE, I can’t help but think that sitting knitting squares while listening to music would be a very serene way to pass an hour of an evening. No matter how purposefully I start out, it is these wavers of mind that slow me down in this process. I like to weigh things up enough to know I’ve gotten rid of something for the right reasons.

  • This is all so true!!! There were times when I was so surrounded by my fantasy self’s stuff that I found it hard to breathe. Literally. I had no idea why I felt such anxiety out of nowhere in my own apartment but randomly it would come and knock me down big time. I have been de-cluttering steadily for a year now thanks to your encouragement as well as a few other blogs and it has transformed my life. My fantasy stuff got donated about 6 months ago! I recall the immediate affects of calm rushing over me as my space began to open up and a light grew inside of me. This light continues to grown and I have never felt more at peace in my space now. I can’t thank you enough for your posts. Simplicity is a way of life now for me. Amazing, simply amazing. Much love!!!
    Tali

  • Barbara

    What an appropriate post! I told my hubby this past weekend that he keeps things for a fantasy life in which we entertain and give dinner parties. :) He laughed at that and agreed. I was challenging him to let me get rid of tablecloths, placemats and cloth napkins that were purchased in frenzy of, “what if” but have never been used. He agreed that even if we DID have a bunch of people over to eat in our small house that we’d be unlikely to use them. I couldn’t get him to budge on the crystal wine glasses though. They are wrapped in tissue and in a box on the garage shelf. A future project. I donated a ton of quilting fabrics and battings this week to a non-profit that makes quilts for kids and it felt so good. The part of me that used to make quilts obsessively has moved on and I am happy that fantasy self is departing the building. Love the post…thanks!

  • JLouise

    What a timely post as just a few months ago I finally let go of a fantasy I have been carrying around with me for over 20 years. I have always loved working with fibers, mainly wool. Years ago I was fortunate enough to work in a weaving store and the owner was very generous to me, giving me many items and equipment for free or a deep discount. My fantasy was to own my own weaving and fiber shop. As a result I have dragged around two weaving looms and countless items of equipment, thinking I was saving money for the day I would open my shop and these items would help me in my endeavor.

    Two months ago I finally let go. I have given away my looms. It took me three years to even begin seriously to consider this act. It was sad to acknowledge I would never be living out my dream. But once I made the decision and let these things go I discovered a calm and freedom that had been waiting for me.

    Minimalism is superficially about stuff but on a deeper level it is about finding and confronting and accepting our true selves.

    As always Francine, thank you.

    • Ariel

      My mom has dragged around her loom my entire life from house to house to house, and not once have I seen her use it. She finally decided this year to sell it, but hasn’t found a buyer yet so is still hanging onto it. I can’t imagine having two of them! What are you going to do with that extra space?

      • JLouise

        Ariel, I’m just enjoying the space for its own sake. There’s actually more creative freedom now that I don’t feel guilty or saddened by my dream that would never be realized.

        I

  • Darlena

    I recently gave away 90% of my piano sheet music, and donated both of my clarinets and clarinet music. Somehow I can’t let go of the piano. It costs me more money to keep the piano (due to tuning) than it does to get rid of it. But I can’t do it. I keep making excuses (what else will I put in that spot?, and the cats like to sit on it)and convincing myself that one day I’ll take it up again. Meanwhile I keep walking by a reminder of the person who “used to take piano lessons.”

    • Darlena

      And now, just over 2 months later, I’m finally giving away my piano! My nephew wants to take lessons. I’m going to put a cat tower in its spot so the cats won’t miss their sitting spot too much. After it’s gone, I wonder how many other things will be easy to part with. :)

  • Betty

    What an excellent post! I have never thought about a fantasy self but it is so accurate. We have workout equipment, art supplies, tennis rackets, crystal, fine china, a silver tea service and so many other things. All unused for so many years.

    Thank you, you have opened my eyes as to why we hung on to this stuff.

  • Sarah

    You’ve hit the nail on the head, once again:

    “All too often, we hold on to stuff because it represents who we think we should be, rather than who we are. Sometimes our fantasy selves are meant to impress others; sometimes they’re relics of our past; sometimes they’re fantasies about our future.”

    I used to own oh so many books and why? Partly because I do like to read, but mainly – and unfortunately – because they were part of a certain way I wanted to see myself. Or felt I’d like to be seen by others…Nowadays, I rarely buy books, or when I do I give them to others to read after I’m done, and keep only the few most important ones which are truly a part of who I am.

    Thank you for a great post!

    • Books are my biggest downfall. I run a second-hand bookstore and for years my life has been all about books, mainly as an escape from my health problems and the agoraphobia that is stopping me live my life the way I want. But having embraced my desire for a simpler life, I’ve been carting bags of books out to our shop over the last few weeks, and whaddya know? I’ve rid myself of about 500 books (so far), and wondered why I had them in the first place. Was it because I needed to see myself as the ‘book girl’ with the big library? Could I not be some truer version of that person without owning all those books? Was I ever really going to get around to all those obscure classics and heavy non-fiction, or did I just like to THINK I would? It’s felt amazing letting it all go; by the time I’m done I want to be able to walk to my shelf, close my eyes and pluck down any book without thinking ‘oh, actually, I don’t want to read this one’.

      • Jared

        Oh man, why did I have to read this comment? :)

        Books are my big thing … I love buying books in the subjects I like, but I get a lot as used book stores, thrift stores, etc., and now I have far far too many to read.
        Also I spend a lot of time organizing them on the shelves, moving bookshelves around to change the room layout, etc etc.

      • As a former bookstore owner, I can totally relate to this post. I truly love books and reading and yet I think (perhaps because I never finished college) that I’ve kept a huge library as a sort of monument to my own intelligence, a visual reminder (for myself and others) that I was well-read and bright. I’ve donated almost a thousand books over the past year and am still in the process of reading and purging my way through my collection. It has been truly liberating to let go of my own need, as Ellie put it, to be the “book girl” with the big library. :-)

        A wonderful, thought-provoking post, Francine, as always.

  • Pamela R.

    My fantasy self centres itself amidst health & beauty products. In the past I easily succumbed to the temptation of lotions, nail kits, facials, eyeshadows, etc., when in reality I wash my face with Cetaphil cleanser and then put on lotion/sunblock. The last time I wore makeup was at my wedding. Recently I cleared out about 75% of my makeup bag and am working on using up or giving away my unused skincare products. My goal by next year is to see my stockpile dramatically reduced to just the essentials, and until then – no more buying.

  • Claire

    Thank you, Francine, for this post. This is so liberating it’s an epiphany. I own more yarn, needles and pattern books than I will ever get to and why? So I can be that funky-crafty chick? When I work full-time, have two kids and no time to craft (I am NOT blaming them), and don’t even enjoy it that much anymore because it serves as a reminder of what I just don’t have the time to get to? It shouldn’t even be a priority. It generates guilt. It drags me down. It has to do none of those things, because my husband and kids must become my priority again. Out, out with all (well, the vast majority) ;-) of it!!

  • Rob Dean

    This is a powerful insight, Francine. Thank you for sharing it. It extends to more than just the stuff, too. It can be unsettling to deal with one’s self-image not being consistent with reality. Some years back I read one of the sociological studies of work/life balance issues (probably The Time Bind by Hochschild) which talked about people with photos on their desks or office/cubicle walls of their one adventurous experience, as part of an effort to project that image. You see the same thing with people’s Facebook profile pictures. Trying to keep life ‘real’ has been a big help with letting go of stuff in my life, although there’s still more to do…

  • Doug K.

    WOW–another amazingly useful post, and one that hit me like a mallet to the back of the head. I have had numerous “fantasy selves” over the years which, by the way, I think is perfectly normal and part of being human as we grow. We discover new things and explore new paths, but because of our consumer society we tend to buy the things to go with them. The trouble is in letting go once that path or interest has been explored as much as we needed to at the time. In my case, I seem to be the natural procrastinator/avoider and it’s easier just to shove the stuff somewhere then actually DO something with it.

    But I was particularly drawn to Sarah’s comment earlier about this being a tricky thing. Sometimes these “Fantasy Selves” we have temporarily shoved in a cupboard are what we REALLY want to be doing–what we NEED to be doing. The beauty of minimalism and the decluttering exercise is that we can strip out all the other crap and “rediscover” the selves we truly want to be. I’m constantly attempting to keep this in the back of my mind so that I don’t end up throwing the baby out with the bathwater, if you will. The trick here is in not deceiving myself into holding onto too many “babies”…

  • Once again you have me feeling the pinch.
    It was about 2 years ago that I finally had to admit I would NEVER be using all the kid’s craft materials I had been accumulating since before I was even married (I wanted to be an elementary school teacher back then). I hung onto the supplies after I changed my career direction to Applied Arts, thinking I would have hours of quality crafting time with my future kids… but I didn’t take into account that maybe my kids wouldn’t LIKE crafting! Still I stubbornly held on thinking they were just late bloomers when it came to loving glitter glue and fun foam bits… nope.
    I finally opened my eyes to the truth and with a tear in my eye packed up my BIG BARREL of fun supplies and took them to the local preschool. They were THRILLED (hey, I had some REALLY cool stuff!)… lesson learned. My fantasy self had fantasy children too.
    I am still a little bit sad that it didn’t work out, but I am also relieved that the pressure to do it is all is gone.

    • AussieGirl

      ‘My fantasy self had fantasy children too.’

      LOL! So true.

      Thank you for the laugh *Pol. I think it’s safe to say that almost every parent has fantasy children. :)

  • Anne

    Ding ding ding! I have my grandma’s sewing machine because I’m going to learn how to sew one day, I have a jogging stroller because I’m going to be the Mom that stays in shape and pushes her well behaved child around the neighborhood, I have a guitar because I’m going to put my poetry skills to use one day and write songs, etc. Boy I’m exhausted just thinking of all these fantasy people I’m supposed to be.

  • Julia

    Wonderful – I’ve been removing the ‘aspirational clutter’ from my life, and it’s absolutely definitely true that this consists of the things which my fantasy self needs…

    Letting it go has been liberating eg I bought a book on textual analysis because my fantasy self is incredibly erudite and scholarly and spends time studying subjects other than the one I actually do for a living. Real me likes doing a good job at work then doing something completely different when I get home from teaching. I gave the book to a student who is about to do an MA in linguistics and she was thrilled to bits.

    There’s a lot more still to go, but now that Francine has expressed it in these terms I may find it easier. Who wants to live with a fantasy if that stops me living my real life?

  • At one time, my fantasy self attended glamorous parties in vintage 1920s flapper dresses.
    That alternate self is pretty long gone, but there remains another one living in my home who is an voracious intellectual reader. She regularly reviews all of her past textbooks (keeping the knowledge current, don’t you know) from several varied degrees. Like Julia’s fantsy self, she aspires to ever-greater knowledge in several fields of study.
    Where is she while I am enjoying cooking or puttering around the garden? Hmm….

  • Great post! Just last night I dreamt that I went to my storage room and found that mold had grown on several of my things – a sign that I need to continue purging, no doubt.

    A few days ago I started taking pictures of everything I keep in the storage room and posting them on my blog. I think looking at the pictures and exposing the things I’d rather keep tucked away is very helpful in the decluttering process.

  • Amie

    Wow. This may be just the inspiration I need to get rid of my sewing machine and accompanying accessories. My fantasy self lives in a house decorated with handmade pillows and curtains and whips out the sewing machine to hem pants or dresses (much like my mother does). My real self gave up and took the stack of pants that needed hemming to the tailor last week. My real self is also aware that I don’t even enjoy sewing, so maybe I can now let go of the sewing machine (certainly someone can make better (and more) use of it than I have).

  • Heather

    I used to be a fantasy farmgirl…I had tools, equipment, the clothes and all the chotskies to fancy up my fantasy farmhouse. I also had weird things like fencing, buckets for animal feed and cages of all sorts. I have come to realize I am more of a suburban type girl but I still wear my cowgirl boots and jeans and I have 3 pets. I also drive my old truck. But that’s as farmgirl as I get.

  • Ariel

    I can’t believe no one has asked yet: what castle is that?

    The only fantasy I have at odds with my real self is having a library. I now realise, since I’m not a rich old man in the 1820s, how ridiculous it would be to buy an entire extra room and fill it with 20,000 books I will never read. But I still love the idea of the *atmosphere* a library evokes: a cozy room with cozy windows and cozy chairs reserved entirely for reading. What a dream! Someday I might get a perfect cozy corner for reading, but I think an actual library is not going to happen.

  • Great reminder to keep up the good work. In the past months, I have divested myself of my crystal stemware, serving pieces, crystal vases, strawberry kitchenware, wedding trousseau, childhood memorobilia, tropical accessories, bathroom products, christmas treasures, beloved living room furniture, and excess bedding.
    I have been resting on my laurels, proud of my accomplishments, but am now convicted to further thin my closet and sewing crate. My real self knows that I don’t have the time to make that cross stitch kitchen towel, and if I did, someone I love would use it to wipe up tea. Why waste time making something that will cause emnity between a loved one and me?

  • This is something I consider every time I want to get rid of things- asking “who am I? & does this fit?” I think I’m at a place where I’m discovering what truly makes me happy and only keep the stuff that falls in line with that. Since I mentally, physically, & emotionally NEED less stuff, I have a hard time finding hobbies that fall in line with that criteria. Since my main hobby and self is organizer-extraordinaire, I have a hard time allowing the items for the rest of the household’s hobbies/persona’s, like Hubs’ snowboard & gear that maybe gets used once every other year. I think I take for granted that I know myself so well to the point that I don’t keep acquiring items to become something else…

  • Cynthia

    Love it, Francine! Never thought about this before. So I either need to wear my Stetson cowboy hat, huge belt buckle and cowboy boots and move to the southwest and be a cowgirl (or marry one) or give up the fantasty. Very insightful. I should move. It’s in my heart. :)

    • Jen

      Cynthia,
      I think it’s great that instead of just blindly assuming you need to rid yourself of that stuff that you instead are considering actually doing it. That takes real guts. The hard part is getting rid of the stuff that keeps you from following those dreams. Go for it!

  • Ruthie

    This is a great post, thank you Francine! :)

  • What an interesting theory! I had never thought about that before. I guess my fantasy self is a multi-discipline artist/crafter. I have a very packed room full of art and craft materials. I was looking for my rug making hooks today and couldn’t find them anywhere. I did uncover a weaving loom, mosaic tools and tiles, 4 unfinished projects, paints, sketching sets, curtains that need hanging. Gah! I am fairly minimalist elsewhere in my life, but I can’t bear to part with these things :o/

  • Cecilia

    What if it is the fantasy self that has everything decluttered?
    My fantasy self is minimal in all ways, lives in a clean apartment,
    can speak french fluently.
    But really, i am having a hard time making the fantasy reality :(

    • Chloe

      Ellie, you have written the questions I have been afraid to answer because I think the truth is that I want to be thought of as intellectual or artsy. You have inspired me to cull through my books and pull out the ones I “should” read. It’s ok, I need to tell myself, if I am not interested in a subject or writer. Thanks very much for the courage of expressing your revelations!

      • Chloe

        Whoops! The above comment was meant for another post! What I wanted to reply, is that I also am worried that the real fantasy person is the minimalist. I swing wildly between binging and then purging possessions. I fantasize about “wafting” through cleared rooms yet troll through Homegoods for the perfect piece of furniture for that fantasy room. Work in progress…

  • Funny, Celcilia, my fantasy self is an Italian minimalist :-)

    I live in a old-world style European apartment with a tiny kitchenette in the corner and windows with shutters that open to the breezes of the Italian seaside. I have a simple wardrobe with a few classy expensive clothing items with, of course, a few gay scarves.

    I may yet have part of that dream someday…

    • Marianna

      An old style European fantasy minimalist here also. My fantasy self has the figure of Sophia Loren, the fashion and expressiveness of Guillietta Masina, self control, grace, goodwill, and minimalism.
      Free from burdens of self perceptions, unfounded fears, and clutter.

  • Lulu

    A few months ago, I cleared out my garage & skeletons came out. Literally. I opened up a box of old cook books (my fantasy self was a Pilipina Julia Childs). Out stumbled bones. Of rats. I don’t know what was more disgusting the bones or the memories of my bad cooking. Okay, bones.

  • Bonglecat

    I’ve now also realised that my husband has a fantasy self. In reality his only (and very time consumming hobby) is keeping Koi. But our spare bedroom is filled with ………NINE analogue keyboards, plus a variety of stands and amps. Clearly his fantasy self is Jean-Michel Jarre, he has admitted he has always wanted to write a Rock-Opera. But he never touches them and they sit there getting very dusty. Finally last night he has told me he intends to sell them on ebay/gumtree and put the money towards more fish keeping equipment. Oh well, at least the bedroom will the cleared.

  • Karen T.

    @Sarah – You are so right about the guilt of unfulfilled fantasies. I’m still a fantasy opera singer. I’ve had some success in a small regional opera company, but I’m finding that my heart is just not in the two to three or more hours per day of practice. I’m 50, so I’ve been singing and studying and practicing for a long time. I’m never going to make it big time (never WAS going to make it big time), but the guilt of all that time and money and effort and “oh Karen, you have such a beautiful voice” weighs heavily. It’s hard, but I need to admit to myself and then to my colleagues that I don’t want to do it any more.

    Francine, you may have inspired me with the courage to declutter several concert gowns and file drawers of music. That’s really my last big hurdle in decluttering.

  • Karen T.

    @Debi – btw, your fantasy as an Italian minimalist sounds wonderful!

  • Vespa

    Yes, yes, yes and yes! I am many of those fantasies. I am working to find the authentic me. This doesn’t mean I am not changing, planning and trying new things, it just means I don’t need to load myself down with belongings. What I really need is very simple and (drum roll) minimal.

  • jenifer

    it’s so funny. for me, i’m the ‘black sheep’ in the family. everyone else is well into stuff — just a certain way of life — and i’m just not, and never have been. it’s so strange!

    so, growing up, my fantasy self was . . . a minimalist. Seriously, i ahve these “journals” of “dreams” (daydreams) where I would imagine myself in these tiny cottages/apartments/whatever with a minimalist wardrobe, and minimal (used) furnishings, except the mattresses were new!, and doing really super meaningful work that i loved, and so on.

    took me a long time to actually just live it, though. like, i was afraid to.

  • Gypsy

    Wow, this post has really effected me. An AHA!! moment definitely. I too have the fantasy-self syndrome. Inside me is the artist, vamp, athlete, what have you.

    The problem is, these fantasy selves can make you unhappy with your life. My athletic, in perfect shape fantasy self makes me unhappy with my perfectly fine and healthy body. My perfect wife fantasy self gives me no leeway to have a bad day or a just not feel like cooking day and that causes me to be unhappy too. Not playing an instrument or whatever can leave you feeling like a failure – when it just isn’t who you are!

    By getting rid of these fantasy selves too – as others have mentioned – you may suddenly realize who your REAL fanasy self is, if that makes any sense. Also, many of those fantasy selves don’t mix and can’t. It would be very hard to be a live aboard sailor and somehow own and run a farm! Lol.

    My REAL self wants to live on a sailboat and travel. I love sailing, traveling and the simple life it contains. I can’t do that AND be my farmer fantasy self. I am going to throw out those other selves so I can put my real effort into the REAL ME…

  • Min

    For me, it’s art. I have tons of it that I picked up during my travels or in craft fairs or directly from the artists on Ebay. I envisioned myself as a collector of art, but I filled up the walls in my modest little house with framed pieces years ago, and I still have enough other unframed art pieces to change it out twice over.

    The problem is that I don’t know what to do with it all. The pieces are beautiful, and they still please me tremendously when I pull them out from under the beds and look at them, but art doesn’t belong under a bed. And few of my friends share my taste in art, especially since I have a fondness for the art nude, so I can’t give them away. And I have no idea how to go about selling art, since the pieces were bought because I loved them, not because the artists had any marketability.

  • rubydellson

    Truly an enlightening post. I’ve come to realize my “fantasy selves” were born from the movies I’ve watched. I’m usually drawn to characters that are the bohemian types, and yet, this is NOT who I am! I also completely relate to the posters above that keep the collection of books to create an identity for themselves. I completely fell victim to that. I’ve given away 3/4 of my collection and really appreciate the pressure it takes off. I’m so over trying to impress people.

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