“Buy it, order it, purchase more”. Our consumerist society has bought into this notion that success, happiness and fulfillment comes from the ability to purchase and obtain material items and goods. He or she that has the most must have more worth, more importance, more prestige than those who don’t. Bumper stickers read ” the one with the biggest truck and most toys wins”.
So many of us have closests and armoires stuffed to the brink with clothing, shoes and accessories and yet never seem to have something ideal to wear. Alot of us have belongings in our home that we don’t use or forget we have only to go purchase duplicates. Often times we find ourselves splurging on items we don’t need only because the price was just right or it was an incredible sale and too good of a deal to pass by. But sadly our frugal attempts at getting a deal just ends up being a waste of our earnings and wasted environmental resources.
The truth is until we are educated and our eyes are opened we will continue to believe and buy into the consumerism trap and not even realize it. Materialism is a lie that society buys into. It’s a lie media, marketing and corporations sell us. It’s the pursuit of happiness, fullfillment, contentment and bliss in things that will not satisfy us. For a portion of time during the past year or so my income exceeded my expenses. So much to the point where one of my paychecks would cover all my living expenses for the entire month (this was short lived before my cost of living rose). The disposable income at first was allocated towards paying my graduate studies, a wise use of it I must say. Once I paid off my tuition I should have spent it on a nest egg or an emergency fund. Rather, this disposal income was spent on dining out, purchasing clothing, shoes, accessories, costume jewelry and in due time I became awoken to the reality of the life I was living in.It was shortly after visiting a family member that I began to look deeper at myself and learning about minimalism. This family member had it all, property, luxury car, three closets and an armoire full of clothes and shoes. Some shoes costing more than my gross biweekly salary. She had it all and in the mere 24 hours I spent with her I was influenced, feeling that my mass consumption would never compare and feeling somewhat inferior or inadequate for not being “up to par”. I remember returning home and making a list of the things I didn’t have but “needed”.
- New Victoria’s Secret pajamas
- New luxury house slippers
- New stilettos
- New Louis Vuitton handbag
- New Pandora bracelet
- New YSL fragrance
The list could go on. Clearly these were things I needed to be a better version of me. Things I needed that would bring about a better lifestyle. And my family member of course encouraged me to “treat myself”. So I did. I didn’t purchase everything on my list but enough that I felt buyer’s remorse.
“Four pair of heels for 30 dollars each? I’ll take them!! Two pair of knee high boots for half the price? I’ll buy them. New tops on sale? Yes, please. Oh and let’s not forget a pair of gray, black and white crosstrainers even though I only wear sneakers for walking or working out.” I frivolously spent so much money. Better yet, threw away so much money. The clothing, shoes, accessories and belongings did not bring me contentment. If anything they wore me down. I was surrounded by so much stuff but the reality was these things didn’t suit me. I had tops just for the sake of having more and not because I absolutely loved them. I had shoes I bought in a whim that were a tad too big and no receipts to return. It was a few weeks before Christmas where I felt an internal conflict. I was tired of buying into the materialism trap. I was tired of going on the hunt of purchasing Christmas items and goods just to later on be donated. I was over it. In feeling suffocated by my belongings and weighed down I decided to minimalize my belongings.
It was perfect timing. I wanted to let go of the past to let in new air and energy for a better future. And so I started with my closet. I purged bags of clothing and shoes and accessories. If it looked worn, if I had bad memories associated with the item, if I didn’t feel beautiful or comfortable in it then it had to go. If I had not worn it in a good amount of time then off it went. I didn’t stop at my closet however. Because I was in the process of moving I decided to take the opportunity to declutter and minimalize all of the rooms in my duplex. I tossed out old letters and pictures and donated memorabilia, toys, books and electronics. My daughters bedroom produced a sum of 7 bags of clothing, books, shoes and toys for donating. I was sickened to think of how wasteful and lost in consumerism we had become as a family. The more I got rid of, the freer I began to feel. It was as though clarity was reentering my life.
I began to research minimalism online through blogs, articles, YouTube videos and documentaries. I became enlightened and excited to find like minded people who could serve as inspirations in my determined quest for simplicity. It was okay to not have as much. If anything not only was it okay it was desirable.
Minimalism isn’t about depriving yourself or simply decluttering. Minimalism is about living with intention. It’s about eliminating all that does not serve a purpose in your life to make room for that which will. It’s about retraining your mind to focus on that which you value most and therefore prioritizing. In the past two months I’ve eliminated a good amount of belongings and yet I don’t feel that I’m missing anything, to the contrary I feel that I have gained during this journey.
By eliminating clutter and eliminating friendships that no longer serve me in the sense of my growth and development I have made more time to dedicate to my family, more time to create memories, more time to bond. My children will probably not remember a present I gifted them on any particular day but they will probably recall experiences, activities or excursions that we do together as a family. And this season of my life is dedicated to that.
It’s the memories that will matter most. The human connections we make rather than the goods we have.
Occasionally I’ll recall an amazing dress or shoes associated with given memories or moments only to recall I no longer own that particular item. I’m okay with that. Metaphorically I feel that I’m a butterfly whom has shed those things behind in hope of a new and better version of myself.
This new version of myself no longer needs to keep up with particular trends that go in and out of style. Rather I’m working on creating a capsular wardrobe and investing my money in quality versus quantity. It means being intentional with how I spend my money. Stores that I once sought out weekly online for sales such as F21 or H&M no longer are suitable based on their clothing sustainability and international ethics policy and fair trade laws. It means being an informed consumer and doing research before splurging.
Minimalism is different for everyone. There is no one right way to be a minimalist. For me it’s about saying no to the excessive, saying no to the unnecessary, saying goodbye to the toxic. It means when I shop I ask myself do I actually need this and if not, how badly do I want it? Is it worth _ and _ amount?
In a world full of greed, envy and the need for power and prestige by personal attainment the most radical effort a person can make is becoming self aware and introspectively asking themselves if what they are doing today will lead them in a better tomorrow for this generation and generations to come. If you’re anything like I was then you’re probably not self aware. Self awareness is the starting point. The journey is in the continued effort. Effort that thus far has deemed very well worth it.