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The 5 Essentials to Remember About Essentials

Posted on Aug 13, 2015

I’m getting a little tired of reading about “essentials” and “must-haves” and things you “can’t live without”. They range from places you must eat to fall fashion must-haves to diaper bag essentials

Essential? Really??? Sure, they may make your life easier. Yes, in your (limited) experience, these are the things that work for you. But if I followed every bit of advice in every article I read, my kids would be run off their feet with must-do activities, I’d be in the poor house trying to afford must-have clothing and accessories for the family, and I wouldn’t be nearly as resourceful as I am today.

For example, one article insisted that to have well-rounded, communicative, intelligent children, I MUST teach them sign language. So I obeyed. Yes, it was much easier to understand what they were trying to tell me before they could form words, but the kids who didn’t learn sign language from birth are just as intelligent and  communicative, if not more so. Another suggested that I read to them every night from babyhood. Seriously?? Have you ever tried to read to a one year old? My kids pulled at the pages, ripped them, tried to eat them. I had NO patience for it, but despite that, my kids are voracious readers and love books.

The fall fashion must-haves kill me. From boots to jackets, they look fabulous on the models! If I had a job and a wardrobe budget, I would definitely consider owning them. But even when I was working an office job (before kids) I still didn’t buy into the must-have bit. Surprisingly, I got by without them! I went on to live a happy, normal life even though I didn’t invest in the newest gadgets or the latest trends. I shopped at thrift stores and still managed to turn some heads- the lables are on the inside.

There are 3 things you should never travel without, 5 essential emergency kit items, 7 things you need to eat every day, 8 back-to-school essentials, 10 things you should NEVER eat, 14 ways you should never sign an e-mail, and 27 things you didn’t know you’ve been doing wrong all of your life. A person could go downright crazy trying to conform to all of these “rules” – just keeping track of them all is enough to make a person squirrelly!

Lucky for you, I’m here to tell you the 5 essentials to remember about essentials:

1) Your life will not improve one iota if you follow these rules. If whatever you’re doing now is working for you, keep doing THAT.

2) If you do not acquire/remove the things on these lists, absolutely nothing will happen to you. The world won’t even notice. I promise you.

3) Aside from air, food, shelter, and love, there is not a single must-have that you can’t live without. If you strip away all the extras – say your house burns down and all of your possessions are lost – your life would be different for a while, but you would have everything you need. The community would rally and you would have all of your basic needs met. If at that point someone offers you a Hermes bag, how would it change your life? 

4) Reading the article and agreeing with it does not require you to act. Nor does it require you to feel inadequate or shamed if you cannot do it. I’m here to tell you – it’s OKAY to NOT take the advice! You can, however, take each article with a grain of salt, because maybe you are not the target audience. 

5) Essentials are unessential. They are, essentially, moot. They are only essential to the person who wrote the article. You are NOT that person. Your experience, your needs, and your values are entirely different than that person’s, and you are not at all obligated to follow their advice. 

And now I’ve said the word “essential” so many times that it doesn’t make sense to me anymore. And I like it!