You can tell a lot about someone by what is stuffed between the back of their phone and their phone case. The contents can range from an extra SIM card, a SIM card tray ejector, an SD card, their Identity card, an ATM card, a passport photo of themselves, several business cards, a spare key, a few sticky notes and some cash. A simple phone that would usually weigh around 150 grams ends up being twice as heavy. And that is just on the outside. Inside their phones are dozens of applications that have not been opened in weeks. The gallery is filled with photos, videos, screenshots and memes. Their contact list has hundreds of numbers, some they no longer even remember who they belong to. And it does not end with their phones.
Their environment is filled with dozens of stuff that hopefully, will come in handy one day. Sitting cozily on the TV stand is the box their new phone came in, Movie DVDs that they binged three months ago, the installation manual for the GOTv decoder, three remote controls and a bunch of coins. The kitchen is filled with empty packaging containers and bottles, shopping receipts from a month ago and used shopping bags. Cloths they have not worn in years still hang from the closet. An extra mattress is collecting dust from under the bed, next to two suitcases and a dozen pairs of shoes that have either become too old fashioned or no longer have an outfit to go with. Lying outside on the balcony is the carton the TV came in, the fiberboard the fridge came in, old car tyres and a broken piece of furniture.
Their workspaces are not any different. Last year’s calendar serves as the backdrop behind them, next to a rainbow of sticky notes clinging on to dear life. Scattered within the shelves is a bunch of business cards collected over the last six months, files bulging from all the paperwork crammed up inside them, filled up notebooks and all kinds of stationery. Then there’s their computer. A hundred desktop icons and shortcuts hide the beauty of the Windows 10 Wallpaper. Files, folders, spreadsheets are slovenly placed in different drives in no particular order. And the computer is overheating due to the six open tabs in Opera Mini, three in Firefox and six in Google Chrome. Let’s not even talk about their cars. Receipts from their recent trip to the mechanic. A bunch of fliers and People Daily newspapers that are issued to them in traffic are stashed up inside the glove box. Insurance and service papers from a year ago. A gym bag at the back, next to the laptop bag. A golf kit inside the trunk. And an extra pair of shoes under the co-drivers seat.
Scientists refer to us as hoarders. I am saying ‘us’ because we all have been here at one point of our lives, ranging from a mild hoarding behaviour to a severe hoarding disorder. We find it difficult to part with possessions, due to a perceived need to use the items thereafter. Ironically, very few of these hoarded items end up actually being used. Sometimes, none of them actually come in handy at all. Hoarding is a reflection of our state of mind. It is an expression of fear. We are afraid of letting go. We are terrified of the future. We would rather stay where we are, with what we have, instead of making bold moves into the unknown. And this manifests in our day to day lives. We do not make much progress. We get up every morning to go to jobs we hate since we are petrified of being unemployed. We stay in toxic relationships because it’s better being sad than being alone. We put our money in the bank instead of investing it because we’d rather be penny wise than pound foolish. Our lives rotate around the same people, places, patterns, positions and perspectives.
Hoarders are wired to be full of excuses and justifications. They have accepted the fact that they will never lose weight because somehow, ‘it’s in their genes’. They have made peace with the fact that they will never start a business because somehow, ‘they are not naturally entrepreneurial’. They will read this and think to themselves, ‘that’s just how I am’. Or, they will go home and let it go. Donate any clothes and shoes they haven’t worn in three months. Delete any apps on their phone that they haven’t opened in three months. Empty their phone cases. Shred ay piece of paper whose contents can be computerised. Organise their personal spaces to only have stuff that actually adds direct value to their future self, by dumping everything that serves no purpose other than reminding them of the person they used to be.
And since they are subject to the universe’s law of giving and receiving, nature will replace the hoarded stuff with much more, bigger and better. And that will be the beginning of unlimited growth.