There are going to be two segments to this blog post. The first segment will be about how I became a minimalist and the second will be about why I appreciate minimalism and the positive impacts it has had on my own life.
I grew up in a poor working class family which I have absolutely no problem with. What I did have a problem with was that they had the self-destructing disease known as “Keeping up with the Joneses”. If you have never heard of this term then I encourage you to use the magical Google to look it up because maybe you have known someone in your life that struggles with the same disease. I caution you because it is life threatening. ESPECIALLY, for a poor family that lived paycheck to paycheck. My young self was influenced by my parents habits, naturally. I decided from a young age that I was going to be rich!! I was going to be a rich business woman so that I could buy all of the things that my parents never could and then I would be happy. The only way I decided that I could be successful quickly was to go to a University and get my business degree, not because I was greatly interested in learning about business. If you are choosing to earn a degree from a university for the sole purpose of creating a large income then, from personal experience, I would say you are not choosing to be educated for the right reason. Therefore, my college years were filled with mass anxiety and I was always overwhelmed, but following this natural trend with students I went to a doctor who diagnosed me with OCD, anxiety, and depression. They encouraged me to keep following my “dream” because these four pills I was taking every single day would solve all of my problems. I did of course because I was on a path to being rich and successful and THEN I would be happy. Well it turns out when you are studying subjects that do not interest you like Human Resource Management, Finance, and Business Law then the subjects are that much harder to understand. By my third year I had landed, in my book, the ideal internship that would lead me on the path to great achievement. Unfortunately, I was very sick mentally, I had a full course load (because the sooner I finished, the sooner I could start working), and I was drinking and partying all the time. I actually got fired from my internship. I felt like my life was over. Everything was in disarray and I spiraled out of control. I look back on this time of my life and they were all of my own choices. Your health should always come first and you can not force yourself to do anything that does not make you happy. I am telling you right now that if there is something in your life that causes you stress or overwhelms you then drop it this instant. You are worth so much more than that!! Here is where my story becomes more positive I promise. The summer after I basically lost myself, my cousin asked me to come and live with her for the summer. This is where I realized that life always has a way of working itself out and honestly it turns out way better than you could have ever planned. I truly believe with all of my heart that EVERYTHING happens for a reason. My story is proof because I did not tell a single family member that I was having such a hard time. I never wanted them to worry about me or think I was failing. That summer I had nothing to lose. I no longer had the internship (that I honestly hated, but it looked good on paper) and I was not planning on taking summer classes, so I freaking did it. I up and moved to new city in a new state that I had never been to. Three years ago I accidentally discovered minimalism. I actually had never even heard about this movement before. I packed one suitcase with clothes and then I put four pairs of shoes, a yoga mat, and books in my trunk. I will admit I was extremely worried at first. I was thinking what if I need that one pair of shoes or what if I need that one pillow, but NO I was perfectly content with everything I had with me. I can say that I didn’t end up needing even half of the clothes that I had brought with me. I also did not need multiple swim suit options. That summer I lived in a camper on a nature conservancy where my cousin was interning. They let me shower and live in the camper for free in exchange for building hiking trails. I had never felt so free in my life. I never felt anxiety except for the one time bears were trying to break into our camper. The last thing I felt was depressed because I was outside in the beautiful mountains. We would kayak, swim, hike, mountain bike, and spend endless hours at the beach without a care in the world. I did not miss one of my things. I ended up working at a little ski resort tucked back in the woods and the people there were so kind and enjoyable to work with. I only worked part time because I did need to put a lot of hours into the trails. I have so many memories from that summer. We camped in the Sierra Mountains, took LSD, and walked around under the moonlight for hours. I felt like an actual kid for the first time in my life. My parents gave me so many responsibilities, especially being the oldest, that I never felt that kind of freedom and adventure. I can also admit that I do struggle with OCD, but I never had that much control over it before because I surrounded myself with so many possessions that I had to clean and organize repeatedly. That summer when I had only a few items to my name I never felt out of control once. I had everything organized how I liked it and I knew where everything was. That also gave me a sense of freedom because I did not need to worry about my stuff. Stuff and things are the last thing we should be worrying about in our lives. I can honestly say I have never danced more in my life than that summer. Dancing is something I really enjoy too. We would dance around the fire or on the sand on the beach like no one was watching. That summer did come to an end though and I decided I would finish my business degree after all because I was very close to graduating, but I went back to school with a completely different mindset. I decided that if I were to fail a class then so what! I decided I would take less classes and find a fun part time job. You could say everything happened for a reason. I also met the love of my life that summer 😉 I believe I only met him because I was in a healthy state of mind so from then on I have continued to put my health and happiness first and just let life run its course because as much as we think we can control it, we just can’t. I ended up finding a great job at a photography studio so I got to use my creativity and meet some great new friends. When I moved back to college, I got rid of about 80% of my things and I was determined to live each day with a heart full of love and continue practicing mindfulness. This was a great challenge for me because I went to a school where people came from very wealthy families and many students were stuck in the rut I was in. People on that path see you as different. This taught me to surround myself only with people that had the same values as me.
This leads to why I greatly appreciate the concept of minimalism because of the positive way it has changed my life. Having less items and clutter in my life has made me appreciate every object I own while not having such a deep connection to my things. I really enjoy listening to “The Minimalists” podcasts. Like I said, sometimes when people find out that you are on this path they do not understand at all and it can be very trying. I actually had someone that is very close to me, or at least I thought she was close to me, tell me and my significant other that we were poor, we kind of laughed about this later because she assumed we were poor since we only have the essentials in our home. We actually have a huge savings now because we choose not to spend our money on things that do not add value to our life. People always judge when they see people living in ways that are out of the ordinary. Mostly close minded people, but when I started listening to these podcasts by The Minimalists, it made me realize that I was not the only person that was living like this and it made me feeling stronger in my life choices. This was also when I realized that there was actually a word for my choices, Minimalism. I love this word. Minimalism is another way that we can express ourselves. I really like this quote by The Minimalist, “Love people and use things, because the opposite never works.” This is beautiful and so simple, yet such a hard concept for many people to grasp or maybe it is a concept that people still have not heard of. Just like the younger me. Living a minimal life has also allowed me to discover new hobbies and enjoy existing hobbies. I think before I was so focused on the future and my goals that I was closed to new experiences. It turns out that I love writing, painting, snowboarding, yoga, hiking, snow shoeing, fishing, camping, reading, gardening, and baking. I now dedicate most of my days to my hobbies because it makes me happy. If I did not live a minimal life then I know I wouldn’t have time for my hobbies. I would be working as much as possible to earn more money and to buy more things. Then I would need to spend more time maintaining those things. I would probably be in a great amount of debt by now too. I just don’t see how I could be happy living like that. We were not born to work, we were born to live. If you have also decided to live a minimal life then know that the minimalist community supports you and I want you to remember that because there will be many people that do not understand. If you have any questions or if you have a similar story to share than please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you.
I hope you find joy in my expression of words.