Embracing Life With Less

I have always been a messy person. My entire life my bedroom floor has been littered with possessions: toys as a child, CD cases and clothing as a teenager, and now, as a young professional, the outfits I try on in the morning only to fling off immediately in order to try something else on. I always wondered why I couldn’t keep my room clean. My the cabinet under my bathroom sink is so difficult to navigate. Why I could not fit everything into my car when I moved out of my college dorm room and had to call for backup.

And then one day, while browsing the documentaries section on Netflix, I came across a film on minimalism. Minimalism has definitely been a buzzword over the past few years. Hell, even Emily Gilmore dabbled in minimalism, removing anything from her life that did not bring her joy after the passing of her husband.

I was inspired by these two young men, who spend their days traveling around the country to share the joys of minimalism with millions of Americans. But this documentary found me at the wrong time. I was out on the road, traveling for my job, and spending five nights a week at the Hampton Inn. There was no way I’d have time to really embrace minimalism. So I set it aside, and forgot about it until one day in Georgia.

I traveled to Georgia to see two old pals who I met in a hostel in Ireland. (You can read all about my travels to Georgia here!) I arrived at their beautiful, vibrant townhouse, and Mackenzie said to me, “You can have whatever you like! I’m trying minimalism.” and that’s when I was really struck by it. I saw how simple, but comfortable their home was. Her bedroom was nearly spotless, but also cozy and lived-in. That’s when I knew that the problem that had plagued me all my life was not a lack of self-discipline to put things away neatly (although that certainly doesn’t help), but owning too much stuff! So I ordered a book called The More of Less (yes, I bought something to help me own less, I recognize the irony), and set out to own less.

Minimalism-the-less-that-owns-you.

The first thing I tackled was my sock and underwear drawer. Getting rid of these types of textiles always plagued me with guilt. Most places do not accept donations of used socks or underwear (understandable). So instead, I’d wear these things under they no longer resembled the original product, all so I’d feel less guilty about them winding up in landfills. That’s when I discovered Planet Aid. They recycle and redistribute old clothing, even the clothing with holes and stains, even socks and underwear. When I learned that there is a Planet Aid donation bin just blocks from my apartment, I went from two drawers full of socks that could barely close to one that opens and closes with ease. I also cleaned out my pajama drawer, donating clothing I haven’t worn in months.

Another area I am trying to minimize is food. I’ve decided to challenge myself not to buy groceries, especially grains, pastas, and canned goods, until I run out of what I have in my pantry to use. I know this challenge will be a bit difficult as I follow a vegan diet and eat a lot of fresh produce. But even that I can work around. I have frozen vegetables in my freezer, canned goods in the pantry. While I prefer fresh produce, it is important to eat what I have before purchasing more.

While I am still working on my minimalist journey, I already feel rewarded. My surfaces are clearer, I don’t have excess of things I don’t need excess of, and I will be helping my future self by making my next move much more bearable. Not only that, but by choosing to live with less, I will also be taking a journey in better money management and spending my money on experiences I enjoy rather than on things that add little value to my life. Sure, I’m not where I want to be yet, but I know I will get there.

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