I’ve never been one to feel like I need to own or wear brand name things. In fact I try to pronounce half of these fancy brands and am instantly corrected. If anything, I’m embarrassed I can’t speak a lick of French [one day]! In today’s world, I wouldn’t know if there were an expensive pair of shoes staring right at me until later someone says: “ooo did you see…?”
While I enjoy good fashion, combining a nomadic lifestyle with “on trend” styles isn’t the easiest. Especially when you’re living out of one suitcase. Overall, I’ve never really placed significant value on “stuff”, especially expensive branded items (jewelry, clothing, accessories, etc.). You would think this mindset would easily lend itself to being a minimalist. Alas, it has not! I have found the journey towards minimalism to be fairly long-winded and intense. That said, totally worth it.
FIRST THINGS FIRST – BACKGROUND
I should call out that minimalism doesn’t really mean getting rid of all of your belongings. Far below are some definitions of what minimalism is and isn’t (see links at end). To help summarize, minimalism does not mean you live with completely nothing, it might not even have anything to do with “stuff” at all. Generally, it’s an intentional prioritization of your core values in life. As a result from this, it could mean ridding yourself of unnecessary stuff in order to live a simpler and happier life, which is what I am focusing this post on today.
So, Madonna called it. We are living in a material world. Since we grew up in this world, it’s easy to default to filling the world around us with stuff. Given this mentality, we have to purposely shift our minds away from thinking we need anything. When I decided to lead a nomadic life, I knew I would have to dramatically cut back on what I owned. I was excited be a minimalist because I read it leads to increased levels of happiness and freedom. I won’t bullshit you, this has certainly not been an easy road. With the amount of stuff I donated to date, I wish I could say I was done or that I became one of those extreme minimalists that lives with nothing because they’re fascinating. Instead, I currently don’t live with much but have a number of belongings collecting dust once in a storage unit and now at my parent’s place. They just love me for it! One day I will get to those remaining piles.
Living in San Francisco for nearly 7 years, I accumulated a ton, mainly costumes and miscellaneous shit. What was once surrounding me daily now feels like a distant memory. For 3 consecutive months in 2014, I lived out of a carry on suitcase and…
I couldn’t remember what I stored, I didn’t miss a thing.
I got back to the basics of living and it made me feel like I could conquer the world. Similar to most travelers, it’s easy to live off of nothing in your day to day. You really don’t need much.
THE STRUGGLE IS REAL, FOLKS
I still have piles I need to sift through as I make my way towards living with only a few suitcases worth of stuff total. Whenever I am reunited with my piles, I always take time (slowly but surely) to donate to Goodwill and the Salvation Army. My once giant pile is now getting smaller and smaller. It has been more of a process than I thought it would be though. I have found it hard to get rid of gifts, things I’ve collected during my travels, and the most random of things I build an attachment towards. I have several hoarders in my family, so I understand the attachment people build with things and the emotional aspects of “saying good bye” to belongings. Some folks in the travel community will brag at how easy it was for them to “quit their job, get rid of all their belongings, and move abroad.” I typically question if they actually mean they threw all their stuff in boxes and have it in storage, or if they legitimately got rid of everything. Was it really that easy? If they are young with no kids, perhaps they didn’t start with much to begin with? Overall, I’ve found this to be a difficult process and one that requires dedicated time and careful thought.
It’s been a long road but it has been worth it through and through. As mentioned earlier, minimalism isn’t all about decluttering. My priorities have shifted since I became a peripatetic to focus my “here and now” on adventure and travel.
These have always been values of mine but I have been placing more emphasis on them. Based on this, I now have more money and time spent on adventure versus things which has contributed to allowing me to live everywhere and anywhere. I have redefined “shopping sprees” as window shopping. If you have a similar goal to become more of a minimalist, my biggest tip I can offer is to approach this in phases and baby steps. Get as much done as you can, take a break, and get back into it with a fresh mind.
I feel that living like a minimalist has generally made me feel better. I recommend getting rid of a lot of your stuff you never use, don’t intend on using, or whatever brings you bluh memories. By doing this I truly feel it will allow you to live a less stressful existence, think more clearly and feel free. Not being surrounded by piles upon piles and removing distractions will naturally allow you to feel this way. If you don’t think you can do it, or if you ever feel like you’ve started and haven’t made progress, remember what Ralph Emerson said: “Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.” So, decide and commit and I promise you will see the reward.
If you’re looking to prioritize experiences over things, I highly recommend moving forward with decluttering all of those “things” you are surrounding yourself with at home, work, in your car, etc. Taking the time to do so has certainly made a positive impression on me.
To help move forward, check out “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Japanese organization consultant Marie Kondo, recommending you should only keep things that bring you JOY. Part of the concept of minimalism is that you don’t really need “things” to live a happy existence. If you want to learn even more about minimalism, I found these blogs and pages intriguing on the topic and want to highlight here:
Please add any other recommendations you may have on this topic in the comments, thoughts are welcomed too. Thank you as always for reading!
Love that you included the Minimalists on here. I just watched their documentary- great stuff! We need to catch up on your Hawaii experience!
LikeLiked by 1 person
I will be blogging all about Hawaii next!!! Stay tuned for a feature on island life 🌴🌺🏖
I understand and wish I could attain some of the peace of mind you have as achieved. Good essay..
You can do it too 😄
As someone who moved from a 4200 square foot house to our current 2600 square foot home, we know how difficult it is to downsize and minimize our “stuff”. We’re still working on it.
The one thing I would add, is that as you minimize your stuff – as hard as that can be – you simultaneously begin to appreciate – even more so – those things which you’ve decided to keep.
Eventually, as you continue to part with your stuff, you’ll end up with what matters most, family, friends, and freedom.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I completely agree! Very well put.
I love the Tidy/Joy book. Come visit soon, Goodwill misses you.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Love this post! I’m a total minimalist when it comes to material stuff and regularly go on binges where I get rid of anything I haven’t used in say the last month!
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thanks, Katie! Nice to have that routine and to be in that rhythm 😊