I'm so precious about things that I end up never using them

  • Life & Personal

I have a confession… Some of the things I own have probably never been used, or at least been used very little

I have a confession…

Some of the things I own have probably never been used, or at least been used very little. And most of the things I own are definitely not being used in the way that they could be, or rather should be.

I’m so precious about things that I end up rarely using them for their intended purpose in case something might happen to them. And I’ve been like this most of my life. Even as a child I remember taking huge care not to damage things, regardless of how expensive they were.

How does this manifest? It depends but generally it’s one of two things:

  • A fear of something no longer being pristine
  • A fear of damage caused by something outside of my control

As an example, I love nothing more than a shiny new piece of technology remaining shiny and “new” no matter how long I’ve owned it. The problem is that it often means that I end up not actually using that shiny new piece of technology out of fear for it to stop being shiny and new.

The moment I buy a sleek new phone or laptop the first thing I do is buy a screen protector and case, and I’ll probably over insure it too. That sleek new device just got a lot less sleek, but hey at least it’s protected right? I still have a 12-year-old MacBook Pro that looks like it’s just come out of the box, which is even more absurd because that laptop can no longer get MacOS updates.

Or owning a new car. I treated myself to a fancy BMW six years ago after using very basic, budget cars up to then. It wasn’t brand new (a year old) but it was it was in perfect condition and had a super shiny paint job. Plus it was so much fun to drive, especially round the mountains in North Wales. I loved it.

The problem was I was so precious about keeping the car in perfect condition that I was paranoid about using it too much. What if I scuffed the alloy wheels? What if someone scratches it in a car park? The car ended up spending most of the time on my driveway quite literally gathering dust. And guess what? It did get scratched in the car park. And I did scuff the alloy wheels. And I got over it.

Ultimately I got fed up owning a car I never wanted to use so I sold it. Now I have a very beaten-up hand-me-down that I give zero shits about and it’s amazing. It’s refreshing as I treat it as a tool to be used rather than an object to be precious over. Is that another scratch? Oh well, add it to the pile.

And let’s just say owning a house has been a whole new experience for me. Turns out it’s impossible not to acquire various scuffs and scratches and marks as you live somewhere over the years. As much as I’ve tried to avoid them! And yet I’m still too paralysed to do any proper DIY or even put photos on the walls…

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s healthy to look after things and try not to damage them where possible. But I don’t think it’s healthy to put the fear of damage – and by damage I mean minor things like scuffs and scratches – over the enjoyment and practicality of actually using something for what it was made for.

After all, what’s the point of owning something if you never actually use it? You end up getting no enjoyment out of using it as well as no enjoyment out of trying not to damage it. Where’s the fun in that?

It’s also a massive waste of money, especially for things like technology that quickly become obsolete. By the time I do end up using something, a newer and better model is out and the resale value on the old item makes it barely worth selling. I’ve lost count of the number of things I’ve sold in mint condition because I used them once or twice before putting them into a case never to be used again.

I also keep the original boxes for things for that exact reason. I know what I’m like and I know that when I’ll inevitably need to move house or sell something it’ll be in perfect condition, so why not keep the box so I can keep it in perfect condition during transit too. It’s less of a problem now I live somewhere that has space to hide all the boxes, though that doesn’t make it OK.

My partner El and I couldn’t be more different in this regard. Take our lovely wooden dining table for example. To me it should remain in satisfying “as new” condition and everything should be placed on a mat and never dragged in case it gets scratched (god forbid). To El it’s a dining table that’s ready to be used and live its glorious life, with every scuff and scratch being part of that journey. To El a scratch on the table adds character. To me it’s my worst nightmare.

Or books. If I buy a new book I’ll do everything in my being to turn every page with great care. If I bend the spine then I’ve failed in my duty. To El a book is something to be read with enthusiasm and the first thing she does is immediately bend the spine. Which one of us is getting the most out of their books? It’s definitely not me.

So what can be done about all this? Well, I’m slowly getting better. Selling my car was definitely a moment of clarity on all this, but I can still do more.

Another thing that helped was nerding out and creating a silly flow chart to decide ahead of time whether I was likely to use something I wanted to buy, or whether I was going to be too precious over it. In the latter case the alternative is to look at rentals or to buy something second hand, or not buy it at all. It’s not perfect but it’s helped me avoid wasting money on things that I know I won’t make the most of.

Either way I need to find a way to learn to accept that life is to be lived, and part of that involves being less precious over objects and actually use them.

Things will inevitably get damaged and that’s OK. Life goes on.