Friday, April 14, 2017

Essay: Minimalism/Conscious Consumerism

I always imagine a white room with three pieces of furniture and 1 piece of art when I think of minimalism. I knew that at one point in my life after college, I would have to deeply spring clean and condense my things down to the essentials. For me, this point came recently when I had to pack for a month long trip to San Francisco and then a quick 4 day turnaround to move to Italy for 6 months. How could I condense my life into one suitcase for a month and 2 suitcases for 6 months?! I got stressed and freaked out because I did not know how I would reduce what I own and love down to a bag or two. I’ve always been someone that attaches my feelings to things – having the right bag or shoes would make me feel much more prepared for a situation than any research could. 

Queue in some research into how to pack for long trips - some people I found on the internet are so low maintenance, bring the bare minimum, and figure out the rest as they go. I have sensitive skin and I am tall so I knew that I would be uncomfortable just going with the flow and purchasing things when I need them in a foreign country. In all my research about packing for long trips, I found so many posts about minimalism and reducing what you need and want. I read about these people who own 53 things and everything is so curated in their homes and lives that they have basically nothing.  As a girl who likes to be prepared for everything, I cannot imagine only owning 53 things. I knew that I had to change my attitude about keeping stuff and learn how to get rid of things in a healthy way so I did what I do best – further deep dive into the internet and match up theories until I find something that clicks with me.

So I did more research – queue in Marie Kondo’s book and the Minimalists’ documentary on Netflix. She speaks about only owning things that spark joy and the guys talk about making a conscious choice about the things you bring into and take out of your life. These two ideas combined fit my personality and own less things yogi mentality.  So, I committed to keeping things when they make me happy, not buying things unless I love them, and getting rid of everything else that does not spark joy. Then, I started the purge of unhappy things very slowly! I had a bag in the dining room that I started placing things into and soon it became two and then three bags! Before leaving my current home in NC, I purged 11 bags of things to go to Goodwill and countless garbage bags full of things I was just hanging on to for no good reason like receipts or notebooks from college. 

Choosing to keep things that make you happy, making a conscious choice about what you spend your hard earned money on, and getting rid of things that do not spark joy were the simplest yet most profound choices I’ve made in a long time. I felt so liberated when getting rid of things and I realized how much our consumerist culture can literally consume you into worrying about what you have, how much you have, and how much you are willing to spend to have those things. I will never say that I won’t buy things that are on sale or a bag or new shoes again. But the fact is that I will not bring things into my life that do not make me happy or feel comfortable. It doesn’t pay in the long run when you will replace something multiple times until you find the version that you love. It doesn’t pay to spend money on things that will not be used or loved or shared with others. It only pays when you have enough things that they are used regularly and organized in a way that you can find it all super easily. 

What are your thoughts on the subject?

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