Chances are that if you were linked here from another blogger pal, then you might be new. To those first-timers, “Hi, I’m Takuto, welcome to my anime cafe!” For the OWLS blog tour’s twelfth monthly topic of 2019, “Holiday,” I wanted to sit down and have an honest little conversation with you all on my anime collection. Specifically, how I will spend the remainder of 2019 with a focus on giving rather than receiving gifts.
We are at the end of the year! For this month’s topic, we will be discussing what the holidays mean to us. Some of us have a religious perspective on Christmas, while some of us see Christmas as a celebration of family. For this prompt, we will be exploring how the holidays are celebrated around the world using various pop culture media. We will also describe what the holidays mean to us. Happy Holidays! – OWLS Team
Sounds pretty first-world, I know, but maybe you’ll read this and take it as cautionary advice for any eager collectors out there currently doing their own holiday shopping. Thanks Lyn for the freedom with this prompt!
To Haul, or to Unhaul
We begin this post with a brief etymology of the subject word here. As you’ve probably guessed by now, “unhaul” is not a real word. I was introduced to this term by fellow anime and manga-collecting enthusiast Simply Gee over on YouTube through her video, “The Great Unhaul: Unburdened for 2020.” If to “haul” something means to address recent pick-ups or goods that are new to one’s possession, ‘un’haul means just the opposite:
un·haul (verb): essentially, to oust items from one’s possession, either by selling or donating.
It’s not a novel concept by any means; people have been tossing out old junk or selling their collectibles on eBay for ages. And yet, the video struck a powerful chord with me. “What does a collection represent for its owner? What does it mean for someone to own something that they a) do not like or b) will not watch/read/use/wear/etc.”
Just when I thought my collection was at its peak and brimming with success, I found these fundamental questions to be picking at my brain all through the night. I couldn’t sleep. I had too much stuff, and only now just realized it, which brings me to my next point.
2019 was TOO Good for the Collection
I mean this in the least bragging way possible. Guys, despite posting all kids of crazy hauls of fancy anime limited edition boxes and figures (especially as of late, yeesh), I am not a wealthy individual. Really, this is money I should be saving for my higher ed stuff to come later. But like most of us, I find ways to pocket money to my hobbies.
Within these past couple of telling days, I finally realized that maybe I am spending a bit too much on hobbies, though.
I never understood it when anime collectors talked about “running out of space,” or “putting stuff in storage.” How could someone have so much as to put some of it away? I didn’t get it, until this year I found myself stressed that I couldn’t maintain the balance of white-space-to-object ratio.
AKA I have too much crap, and if I get more I risk losing any sense of aesthetic or clean organization.
Guys, I spent a lot of money on hobbies this year. A LOT. From cosplay and books to anime and figures, I spent far more than an undergrad student in college should. And now, I’m gonna get rid of some stuff.
Unhauling for the Holidays
I’ll skip the part where I stayed up till two each night the past couple days just going through everything I own and throwing away “old shit.” (Yes, I recycle. And YES, I have plans for proper dispersal of all this stuff from my room.) I got rid of clothes from freshman year of high school, recycled tons of old papers from middle school, and disposed of the junk that just plain didn’t work. It was, as I reported on Twitter, “the most intense decluttering of my life.”
You may ask, “Why have you held onto all this crap all these years, Taku?” The easy answer is I’m a hoarder, but the more truthful one is that I genuinely apply the same collecting mentality to my school work, old hobbies, etc. as I do my anime and manga.
Until now, that is.
It was “a great unhaul” indeed, and once I got started (following my mental breakdown where even looking at my shelves started making my breath heavy), I couldn’t stop. I got rid of everything. ALL of my possessions were thinned, combed through for the usefulness and happiness each item brought me. Only the things that gave me #goodvibes stayed; for all else, it was the great purge. Eventually, all that remained for me to examine were the shelves themselves: the heart that I’ve been filling for the past six years of my life.
Methodically scanning through each shelf, one-by-one I started pulling various manga volumes, novels, and eventually anime down from my shelves. “If you have (or I know can) make me happy, you stay,” I told myself as I held each book, each Blu-ray, and weighed their fate. The volumes, series, prints, and knick-knacks that my siblings don’t want will be sold online to any willing buyers. As for the “good” stuff . . .
I’ll be giving away parts of my collection, my very soul, to my siblings. By reading my personal posts, you may have realized that I’m very close with both my older brother and younger sister (yeah, I’m the middle child). I’ve watched just as much stuff with them as I have on my own. Through this unhaul, it finally dawned on me, like a light-bulb clicking on in the dark:
Why don’t you give the shows that your siblings like more than you do to them?
I’ve always been the one they came to for entertainment; rarely was it the other way around. If they want to watch something physically, they’d come to my room and peruse the shelves, not unlike how someone would at a library. I have so many wonderful memories with all different kinds of anime—but half the reason I have those memories is because I didn’t watch those shows alone.
So for the holidays, in addition to whatever gifts I had already bought, I’m giving back to my siblings the shows and series that mean something to both of us, in addition to the memories we made along the way. I think this focus on giving rather than getting will prove psychologically beneficial, as well as help free up shelf space.
My Recovery from Unhealthy Collecting Habits
Yeah, I spent a lot of money on anime stuff this year. Yes, I realize I have accumulated some stuff that I know I’ll never get to, but bought anyway cause it was “on sale.” And yes, my own collection, that which I hold most dear—which I *literally* look up to each day for inspiration and motivation—was somehow able to make me physically sick just looking at it.
That was where I was two days ago. Through ousting piles of old papers, clothes, and junk from a decade ago—and by listening to lots, and lots, and LOTS of BTS—I’ve come to realize that receiving can be a deceptively more draining and daunting act than giving. When you get something, it’s gotta go somewhere, and I had finally run out of space for new stuff to go.
So, what goes in that space I just made? Love for myself. Happiness for myself. I’m not kidding: I’m keeping these blank spaces on my walls, in my closet, under my bed, and on my shelves to remind me that if I can’t breathe in my own room, I’m doing something wrong.
This enlightening philosophy has also transferred to other aspects of my life: I filtered through my phone’s photos and music, only keeping the pictures and songs that make me feel happy about myself. Additionally, I’m eating healthier AND exercising to k-pop music every day, and I honestly haven’t felt this much body positivity in ages—perhaps BTS is the real hero of this story, hahaha!
I’m unhauling pieces of my collection for 2019 because others might be able to get more happiness out of something than I could have, absolutely. But also, I’m unhauling because I have to. This is self-care for me, and thanks to seeing that life is much better when you can feel light and weightless—physically and emotionally—I can finally charge into 2020 feeling unburdened, content, and lighter than ever before.
And honestly, I’ve never felt better.
Building with blinking light
We’re shining brightly
In our own rooms, in our own stars
Mikrokosmos – BTS
Wow, that’s a load of my chest. This holiday season, I encourage you all not necessarily to toss out a bunch of shit like I did, but just to sit down for a moment and get in touch with your own belongings. What brings you happiness? If something doesn’t, why have you held onto it? Would my life be better without this thing I won’t ever use? You’d be surprised how such simple questions can lead to life-changing moments. I’ve always been a cheesy one for liking that “New year, new me” bullshit. But this year, more than any other before, I actually feel in charge of my life—who knew all it would take was leaving behind all the weight that held me back.
This ended up being much more personal and diary-like than I initially intended, but I hope you, too, might be able to help yourself out with my story. Be cautious of hoarding stuff and overbuying this holiday season; it’s a terrifyingly easy thing to do. Love each and every thing you own—if it doesn’t bring you happiness, chances are you’re better off without it, trust me!
Guys, this officially completes three full years of my being with OWLS. I’ll have another Top-5 post for that coming out soon. Until then, this concludes my December 19th entry in the OWLS “Holiday” blog tour. The incredible Irina (Drunken Anime Blog) took to the keyboard once more to write about her beloved Natsume that you can read right here! Now, look out for THE Lyn (Just Something About LynLyn) of OWLS herself with a post this Sunday, December 22nd! Thank you so much for reading, and remember, pursue happiness—you owe it to yourself!
– Takuto, your host