Brittany Campbell
art director + designer


Downsizing and finding happiness.

The word downsizing has a negative connotation to it. Downsize is defined as "to reduce in number or size." Those of you who know me, know that I am pretty spontaneous. I do things like pack a suitcase and move to Chicago. I take solo trips to Europe. I do these things because I like change. I really enjoy it. However, right now my life feels relatively stale. I say stale because I am happy with my life. There are very few things I would change if I had the power to. However, I haven't had a big change in a  while. During school you get a fresh start every 15 weeks! My first year after school I was jumping around internships and freelance gigs. I'm currently on month 8 of my first full time job, which I love, but I haven't been in a routine environment this long ever. I'm also on year 2 of my lease for my apartment, which I love, but that's the longest I've ever lived anywhere (outside of my childhood home.) 

When I returned home from a vacation/conference in San Francisco this year, I felt I needed a change. I wanted to do something responsible and something I wouldn't regret. A few years ago I got my heart broken and I chopped off 11 inches of hair and donated it. I thought that was the change I needed. No. That's was stupid. Never do that. Ok, so we all do stupid things, which is fine, as long as we learn from them. But don't cut your hair off. It's stupid.

ANYWAY, when I got home I felt like my house was so cluttered. It's not but I felt like it was. There were so many books I didn't read. So many boxes that were full of things I never used. I live in a fairly small apartment so these few things might not be lot but when they're shoved into my apartment it feels claustrophobic.

So I decided that I was going to purge my house of all the things that didn't need to be there. Here's a look at some before shots:

This is my extremely full closet. Once upon a time, I worked retail and obtained a shopping addiction. Thankfully, since I've stopped working in retail (and gained a few pounds) I have lost the desire to shop for clothing. But clearly, I still have more than I need. My closet is literally bursting at the seams.
This is the closet purge. I thought about taking my clothes and shoes to sell at a consignment store but when I've done it previous times, they don't take everything and all the rejects get thrown back into my closet. This time around I dropped everything off at the Salvation Army.
This is what my closet looks like now. It's organized and a lot less crowded.

 In high school I started collecting DVDs. I love movies! I was so into movies that I even loved the cases. Since Netflix became my most used App on my iPad, I never use my dvds anymore. This whole shelf was full of dvds. Look in the corner. That desk is a mess too! In addition to the desk, I have 4 boxes of "design suplies."

Instead of getting rid of all my dvds, I bought a dvd book that could hold all of my dvds and then I recycled the covers. Well, all of them except The Social Network because that case is just awesome.

We still had some books, photo albums, and board games after all the dvds were put into a book. So I sold our huge bookshelf for $100 (bought it for $75 so I made a profit) and turned around a bought a smaller book shelf. I put it on the other side of the living room because it's a smaller wall. The large wall is getting a new larger sofa delivered next week.

Remember all that "design stuff" I had near my desk? Well, I found another box of it in my closet. Here's a list crazy stuff I found in those boxes"

  • Paper scraps from print jobs
  • Left over bulk paper
  • Bad, and embarrassing, design projects
  • Envelopes
  • Shipping labels
  • USPS shipping boxes
  • My graduation announcements
  • Old and irrelevant invoices and receipts
  • completely used sketch books
  • Old conference names badges
  • Running badges (yeah not design related!)
  • A bottle of spilt india ink
  • 2 Ghiradelli Chocolate Bars
  • 3 different Moo boxes of my business card (not the same designs)
  • 1 Moo box of my roommate's business cards

Paper samples
Promotional notebooks

Some personal brand promotion. The smallest quantity of custom chap stick you could buy was 100. I still have about 50. I wander how many of them are rolling around the bottom drawers of Leo Burnett recruiters.
Lightly used art supplies from that one class I had to take in college.

Yeah. I have no idea where these came from and why I have them. I don't even think I know how to use these.
So I didn't tell you but, when I was cleaning out my closet I also found a rolling storage bin full of clothes under my bed. I had forgotten about those clothes completely so I donated all of them. With the empty storage bin, I curated all my "design stuff" and neatly threw it in the storage bin and rolled it under my bed. Out of sight. Out of mind. Until I need a paper sample.

So... now I can breathe. I don't feel so bogged down. I think it's important to downsize your belongings. Sometimes I think we give material objects more value than they are worth. We create special connections with objects that have little to do with our happiness.

At the beginning of this post, I talked about how happy I am. And I am. I am really happy. I am the happiest and most comfortable I think I have ever been in my life. I remember back to my college days when I was dirt poor. I thought that once I graduated I would be able to live in a huge apartment with all these really cool belongings and things that I couldn't afford while living in college. Now that I can afford things, I don't want them. I personally believe things are more valuable once they are earned. Maybe that's why material objects don't do it for me anymore. They are easily obtainable for me, giving them little value.

The things that are most valuable to me now are spending time with my family, traveling, and being around people who are interesting to talk to and elevate me to be a better person.

I think these things are valuable to me because they have become harder for me to obtain. All my family lives in Utah. I see them about twice a year. Traveling is one of the most expensive things to do but every time it is more than worth it. Within the past year I have seen many of my close friends move away. Whether it be to the suburbs, the other side of the country, or the other side of the world. It's been hard trying to find new people who share the same values and ambitions as I do. Sometimes it's really hard to find people who can be as good of a friend to you as you are to them. But I think that is a part of growing up. Being able to decipher the good and important people from the poisonous and toxic people.

So whatever you're looking for, whether it be happiness or change, remember what really makes you happy and decide if it can provide temporary happiness or long lasting happiness.