The joy of collecting things as a hobby and when it can be a problem

CJ Coombs
Do you collect bottles?Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash.

Collecting items can be an enjoyable hobby or a meaningful experience. You can earn a profit from some collectibles or you can display them with pleasure. When do you think collecting things becomes a problem?

What things do people collect?

According to 246 Cool Things to Collect (Collection Ideas), if you like to travel and you like the beach, you might look for pieces of driftwood or seashells from different beaches. You could have a shelf bookcase enclosed in glass that is dedicated to that collection.

Whether we collect tangible items or not, we do collect intangible things like thoughts and memories. We go to yard or estate sales and flea markets looking for someone’s lost treasure or the best bargain of a collectible item that gets added to a valuable collection or perhaps triggers a childhood memory. We collect memories through saved photographs, scrapbooking, or family members and good friends.

The list is ongoing of what people collect, i.e., antiques, stamps, coins, photos, books, and trust me, this is only naming a few. The behavior of collecting, though, could become problematic if it isn’t performed in an organized fashion.

Collecting as a hobby

If you want ideas of what to collect, see Hobby Lark that has a list of items from A to Z to get you started.

I collect postcards. For years, family, friends, and co-workers have mailed me postcards from their vacations or they brought one or two back. I enjoy them more when they are mailed so the back displays the postal marked stamp from a place of origin and the date. Some represent memorable trips and a lot of them span over a long period of time. They are a part of my life’s journey.
I have hundreds of postcards!Source: author.

Without my own driven effort, I have a collection of cups from other states I traveled to, but they are of practical use too, so they are not displayed. They are used. I would categorize them as a memorable collection. This does not mean I have 50 cups (wait a second, do I?). I love the golf cups represented by the year given to me and the tournament like Medina, Ryder Cup, and the Masters. I’m a virtual golfer, so these are special. Golfing isn’t my gift so the cups are. And many people use cups as an easy gift-giving solution. One cup I have is from a concert — I saw Fleetwood Mac in 2019, and it represents to me my last full year of living before COVID-19, so it has more than one cause.
I have so many cups carrying memories of my past and each tells a story.Source: author.

When I was a teenager, I started collecting frogs, so for about 20 years, people were giving me frogs every year — plastic ones, ceramic ones, stuffed frogs, yard frogs, etc. I decided over 11 years ago, it was time to let them go. I outgrew the desire. I can’t even tell you why I started the collection. I remember one holiday after opening a friend’s gift, I know I was thinking, “oh fabulous, another frog….” I was grateful, but I finally had to start telling people that it was okay not to get me frogs anymore. One year my dad gave me a huge poster with an unattractive frog on it and it was so big, it was scary. He was really happy to get me that poster. I accepted it graciously. I just never framed it. So, you have to be careful sometimes what you tell people about the things you like. Just tell them what you really like.

I am obsessed with family photographs and most are in scrapbooks or digitally saved. I believe family history is important, so I try to keep them organized. Photographs are more than a collection of faces, they represent history.

Places to go in Missouri for collectibles

If you lie to peruse different shops, below is a list of places to go:

Vintage Stock has a few locations in Missouri: Belton, Liberty, Springfield and Joplin.

Brass Armadillo Antique Mall is located in Grain Valley, MO and it is so large that you could spend the whole day there.

Show Me Sports Cards is located in Blue Springs, MO.

The St. Louis Antique Mall probably has just about everything you might be searching for.

When is collecting a problem?

Hoarding disorder is a mental health condition characterized by saving items that appear to have little or no worth, often accumulating magazines, mail, newspapers, and old clothing. (Source.)

If a collector starts putting everything being collected onto every piece of furniture or into boxes lining hallways, this is a sign of a problem.

If collecting becomes such an obsession that all your money is going into purchases that continue to gather in your rooms, this is an unhealthy sign.

If collections begin to take over your life and there is no reason as to why you are collecting certain items and these items are not well kept, there is a problem.

Over-collecting can turn into the anxiety-driven behavior of hoarding, an act of collecting anything, including clutter, and having the inability of letting go of any of it.

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Multi-genre writer and indie author with a BA in Eng Journalism & Creative Writing. My working career has been in law firms. Thinker, giver, and lover of life and retired early to be a writer. Born into Air Force service life, life has taken me to Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Missouri. I love family, art, reading, history, true crime, travel, and research.

Kansas City, MO

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