My journey to minimalism

My journey to minimalism

I had heard of minimalism and was terrified of it. The idea of owning one of each was utterly repelling to me and did not chime with my lifestyle. I used to find pleasure in buying clothes, accessories, bags and cosmetics. I had the need, if not to follow, at least to keep up with the trends. I also cherished purchasing decoration items for my flat; new cushion-cases, candle holders, new plates, glasses or mugs -never in sets- deco items for the bathroom. All these little things that I thought made me feel happy and complete. If only I had this item, my life would finally find its purpose and feel content. I just had to have this one garment to satisfy me, and then that was it, no more purchases cause I had found the one. Alas!

In early 2018, I realised that any number of possessions would not bring the changes I aspired to bring into my life. The possessions have ended up possessing my psychology and occupied a big part of my daily routine. What should I wear tomorrow? So many clothes to choose from. What is the ideal combination? Oh, I haven’t worn this one for a while, but I somehow have to use it the soonest since I have bought it.

All these meaningless thoughts had to stop as I started experiencing subtle stress that was growing bigger and bigger. In addition to this, my wallet could not afford all the spontaneous purchases that were supposed to bring me joy. In 2018, my salary was significantly lower than now, and I knew that I was not doing the best money management I could. There were more urgent priorities I should attend to instead of visiting the shops every other day for a feel-good moment. I instead spend the extra money on travelling and obtaining experiences than obtaining items. I rather start a savings account.

Earlier that year, I had a conversation over some drinks with my friend Nicole. She mentioned a podcast, The minimalists, and how they presented a different perspective on purchases and things, away from extremities. Nothing like this radical minimalism I was so intimidated by. Back then, I did not give it more thought; but when the time came, and I felt the urge to dare some changes in my life, that information came in handy. So, I slowly started my journey to minimalism. And this journey continues. Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus highlight that minimalism is not a destination but a journey, and I got to realise that quite soon. Minimalism is not a race, not an ultimate goal. It is a process, a lifestyle.

Would I claim now that I am a minimalist? No, not really. But I have made significant steps towards it, and I have reconsidered many parts of my life, which I back then thought needed no improvement: living space, romantic relationship, friends, professional interactions, gift-giving and the value and meaning of things. I had to reassess and reflect on my values and what truly mattered in my life; whether something was bringing happiness and added on it or it was used as an excuse to cover needs, I was refusing to work hard to examine deeper.

When I started decluttering, my life felt lighter and more purposeful. I was able to focus on situations and decision making properly. I just had to start removing the noise.

I began enjoying this feeling. I still do and strive for it. Whenever I am about to purchase something, I ask myself these questions, ‘Do I really need it? Does it improve my life somehow or will it end up being a burden? What drives my desire to shop this item? Can I really afford it?’. 

Another method I follow is to wait some days till I make up my mind about a purchase. To think about it calmly and detached from the shopping fever. The majority of times, I decide against it, which saves me money, time and energy, which I can then put on something meaningful. On the other hand, when I choose to acquire something, I feel no guilts or remorse, and I end up using this item to the fullest, even when the excitement of the first days has passed. 

While having space for improvement, I now consider myself a more intentional investor of my money and energy. I value more human relationships and quality of life. I have begun focusing better on what matters to me. Overall, I have started making better use of my money, considering the future and not just living for the moment. I still have urges to sentimental shopping; I am not a robot! But at least I am aware of them and reflect on my actions and desires. I am improving, and for me, that’s all that counts.

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