The problem with our collections

Picture of vinyl records - the problem with our collections - sam hodges

Problems occur when we collect things to affirm our sense of identity.

We all buy things we don’t need because they align with the ideal image we have of ourselves in our mind. We use these possessions to convey our favourite qualities to other people. Over time, we might accumulate enough of these items that they become a collection. We grow proud of our collection and talk about it to our friends and the people we meet. Over time we may become known as the person that’s into that thing, and it makes us feel interesting.

The danger is that our sense of identity becomes attached to our collections and we become increasingly defined by material things. In order to maintain this fragile sense of identity, we feel obliged to maintain and grow our collections. This can go on for a lifetime.

Until recently I owned a large collection of vinyl records which I had built up over the last decade. In the beginning I bought them because I taken up a DJing as a hobby. 5 years later DJing was no longer a part of my life, however people knew me for my record collection. For the next 5 years, I continued to buy records, despite almost always listening to music digitally. I spent hundreds of pounds a year buying new records because it was part of my identity and subconsciously I didn’t want my sense of self to be lost.

Eventually I realised this, so I sold all of them.

Selling a collection that you have invested a lot of time and money into is a great exercise in understanding where your sense of identify comes from. If this feels too painful, you may be identifying with your collections too much.