I’ve just finished an hour long walk through my favorite forest, which means my inspiration and desire to create is through the roof. Lately I’ve had this overwhelming itch to write, to create, to connect. This space has always been my first line of defense against whatever ailment plagues my mind, and although the last few years have been a valley of thoughts, I feel like I’m starting to see the peak.
It’s uncomfortable yet necessary to have the valleys in life, without these we will never experience the peaks.
I’m coming upon a new season in my life, one that I’ve been not so patiently waiting for. It’s been a long, unclear, and uncomfortable season for me the last few years, but as most say when they feel the end coming: I don’t regret any of it. I’ve discovered who I am as a person, what I’m capable of, and how resilient I am. I’ve also learned that when I feel stuck the best answer for me is to change something.
Key words: for me.
My mom claims a lack of responsibility to “stick things out” is a millennial thing. She doesn’t mean anything negative by this per se, but I always play devils advocate because my belief is that us “millennial’s” move around more often in life because we’re not afraid of chasing our dreams. We’re not afraid to break out of the mold we never fit into in the first place. I know in my soul when something doesn’t feel right, and those feelings manifest in other ways when I don’t listen.
The awesome thing about all of this is that when we listen and take the time to learn about ourselves, we have the ability to discover what we need. Needless to say I’ve had a lot of self discovery the last few years. One of my daily focuses these days is minimizing as much stress as possible. For as long as I can remember I’ve felt stressed and anxious when it comes to “excess.” Friends and family often don’t take me serious when I tell them, “please no gifts” for holidays and birthdays, but most of the time those gifts I receive are donated or re-gifted. I don’t do this to be inconsiderate, but I don’t want more than I truly need.
Living with less gives me so much more.
I go through spurts of minimizing my already minimal belongings, and I’ve been on a big downsizing kick lately. I’ve downsized to only clothing I wear or have worn within the last month, because how many shirts can I actually wear at once. I sold my iWatch, because the constant connection was draining and I wanted to be more intentional with my focus. I gave away jewelry because let’s be real, I don’t wear jewelry. I threw away my mascara because I haven’t worn makeup in months.
The list goes on…(I sold 11 thing on eBay and have raked in over $770 so far.)
Literally all I use for “beauty.”
What I gain each time I minimize is a sense of freedom. Freedom from belongings that bring me no value or joy, but just take up space physically and mentally. I’m a simple gal, with simple taste. I dress in dark neutral colors because it makes getting dressed in the morning effortless. I only wear things I feel truly comfortable and confident in because life is stressful enough without adding the pressure of “what will I wear today?”
I’ve always had this mindset tucked deep in the back of my mind, but it wasn’t until the last few years I began to embrace this about myself. Sometimes it takes walking through a valley to reorganize your life and pay attention to what is important to you. Everything else has a way of fading into the background. As a teenager I cared about what people thought of me much too often, but as a “one year shy of 30 millennial” I’m more comfortable in my own skin than I ever have been.
One of the perks of our 20’s, they truly are about self discovery.
Be the one orange leaf in a sea of green.
I’m well aware a minimalist lifestyle is not for everyone, but I do think everyone could benefit from consuming less in life. We live in a world where debt is at an all time high, we’re encouraged that if we don’t have the money for it to put in on our tab, when really if we don’t have the money for it then we cannot afford it. I struggle with understanding this mindset, because to me it’s always been obvious – if I can’t pay for it with cash, I can’t buy it.
End of story.
Of course there are exceptions to every rule, but I hope to see a day where we as consumers take control over our lives, and stop letting society influence us on what we consume. Do you really need that $80k car? Do you really need those $500 sunglasses? Or how about that five bedroom house that you’ll be paying off until you die when it’s just you and one other person living in it? Success is too often equated with money, and items, and the more you own the more successful you are, but is that really the truth?
There’s nothing inherently wrong with having “stuff” if you truly find endless joy in something, but to know the different between a quick fix and true joy takes diving deep into our intentions.
Success to me is a loving and healthy network of people, the ability to travel and learn about new cultures, the ability to have enough to get by right now, and enough to get by in the future (yes, I have a 401K and a Roth IRA) without the stress of needing a high paying job to pay for my lifestyle. My idea of success might be different than yours, and that’s OK, but I believe if you’re buying just to buy there’s likely a void in your life you’re trying to fill.
Once the joy from the new toy fades, we’re left with the same discontentment. We’re left feeling lost, like being a tourist in a big city.
This isn’t to say we should never buy things, I fully support when items bring true joy to our lives and will be used over and over. It’s the excess that acts as a coverup. The beauty of the world we live in is that we’re all entitled to our own opinions and ways of life, I won’t judge you for your consumption, but I also won’t pussyfoot around the destruction that can accompany a lifestyle riddled with excess.
The goal is not to be perfect, the goal is to be aware. I have my moments of desire to purchase things I likely do not need, but being aware helps keep me on track with my values. How much of your stuff is cluttering your life, blocking the space of something you truly need? Blocking your desire to travel, to connect, to inspire?
I love connecting with like minded individuals, either in real life, or through podcasts, social media, and books.
This goes for other consumption as well. I don’t struggle with material possessions, but I do have two areas I need to be consciously aware of: food, and social media. I can easily get lost in a bag of cookies if I don’t eat with intent, and social media is a rabbit hole I’ve hopped down too many times to count. I recently deactivated my personal Facebook, and spent a week without Instagram on my phone because I was over-consuming both.
Momentarily stepping away is all it takes for me to remember why I use social media: to connect, not to pass time when I could be doing something more productive.
With all things in life there’s a balance. Consumption isn’t satanic, and living with less doesn’t make you above everyone else. I’m not telling you you’re a bad person if you buy a lot of things, and social media can be a great tool when used correctly. My goal with this post is to encourage and inspire those reading to listen to their hearts and stop letting others influence the way they live.
This is not to confused with avoiding quality. I spend more on items I know I’ll use more. I once had a pair of Birkenstocks last for ten years. I have a pair at all times.
For years I lived my life based on how someone else told me I should, and all that got me was a life full of stress, a mind full of discontent, a body overcome by disease, and a soul stifled with stagnation. It’s amazing how quickly things can change for the better when we start to live our truth. Our truth – everyone is unique.
As always, when I pour my soul onto the virtual pages of this blog – I feel uplifted, relieved, renewed.
To end I leave you with this – think about what success means to you. You don’t have to minimize to feel success. If you wan’t success to equal money then more power to you, but I’d argue most of us want more out of this life. Our truth is constantly changing, don’t be afraid to redirect multiple times. This is just one of my examples of success (I have many,) and yours will likely look different, but that’s what makes us all beautifully human. We get to write our own stories, no one else.
Q: How do you define success?