This is a post by Sheila P. -Anna
2013 wasn’t a year I expected it to be. In late 2012, I graduated with my Master’s, started my doctorate, and began a new job—my dream job. The new job lasted for only six weeks before I was laid off. Then I began several miserable months of unemployment. During this time, besides wallowing and fervently searching for a job, I had to go overseas for family reasons. Luckily, I had some savings for the unexpected trip, and there I was—traveling to the other side of the world with just a small piece of luggage and handbag. While overseas, not only did I have my mind off of disheartening unemployment, but I also turned to minimalism.
The Beginning of my Minimalist Journey…
On the island country where I was located, I don’t think the word “minimalism” is even used—it’s their way of life. Homes were simply made and had just the basics: table and chairs in the kitchen; a couch, table, and maybe a television in the living room; and a bed and nightstand in the bedroom. On average, people had a dozen items in their wardrobe, including two pairs of shoes—a pair of sandals and a pair of tennis shoes. Food had simple, fresh ingredients: fresh rice, fresh fish or other meat, fresh vegetables, and fresh fruit—all caught, bought, or made on the same day or from the day before. Water was the choice of drink; sodas were available but only in glass bottles that were used and returned to recycle. There was minimal waste. Even entertainment was simple and included singing, dancing, walking, or playing cards. Work didn’t consume their lives; they worked to live—not lived to work. Family was the center of their lives. The people I met did not have much “stuff,” but they had full, happy lives.
My world was turned upside-down. I yearned for the simplicity and minimalistic aspects of their island life. I knew that upon arriving back to the States, I couldn’t exactly emulate what they had, but I want to simplify and minimize every aspect of my life. I began to differentiate between my “wants” versus my “needs” and what was just baggage and what was truly important to me.
Still in the midst of unemployment, the journey to minimalism was cathartic. I divided my time among applying for jobs, working on my doctorate, and working towards a minimalist lifestyle. Here are the little steps I took, in random order:
- Decided that I wanted people to be the center of my life–not work, titles, or money
- De-cluttered and organized my e-mail box and consolidated all of my e-mails into one account
- Pared down my entire wardrobe to 33 items every 3 months and donated clothes I that did not fit anymore or wore only once
- Organized, purged, shredded, and recycled all my paperwork
- Cut down all of the possessions in my apartment to 53 items/groups of items (besides my 33 wardrobe items)
- Transitioned into all digital/paperless billing and documentation
- Limited unnecessary paper and plastic use
- Cut out TV/cable
- Limited wasting food and began buying and consuming food I wouldn’t waste
- Began using less electricity
- Stopped myself from buying new clothes
- Consolidated and simplified any way I can
During this journey to minimalism and after applying to 144 job positions, I finally landed a job.
With me, I will bring a new perspective in life, a whole lot less “stuff,” and more insight on what is important to me. I’m looking forward to a new beginning, but I know the journey has just begun…
What can you do today start simplifying your life? Is simplifying your life something you’re interested in doing? Why or why not?
P.S. Looking to declutter and minimize? CLICK HERE to learn about the Fearless Minimalist Guide
i absolutely love this post. and this line really resonates with me ” I wanted people to be the center of my life–not work, titles, or money” So this! That’s how I’ve been the happiness – when relationships I’ve cultivates are thriving I feel so good.
Thank you so much for posting my story, and thank you, readers, for reading and/or commenting!:)
Whoa – very inspirational, Sheila!
Thanks for sharing!
Great post! As the daughter of family farmers, my minimalist path began at birth–what we couldn’t pay for, we didn’t get, and in the end, I don’t think there was anything we really missed. I’ve tried to carry out that philosophy with my own kids, and it’s gratifying to see them as young adults putting those values into play. It’s a freeing thing to realize just what is and is not essential, and I commend you for making a conscious decision and styling your life to fit new-found values. Anna, I come to this site for inspiration, and always leave feeling better and with new ideas for living better without emptying my bank account. Thank you both for your well-expressed insights.
I loved this post! I have been working on decluttering for the past year and we have about 2/3 the amount of stuff in our house as we did this time last fall. We are moving in 10 months and I am looking forward to using that as an opportunity to rid our lives (and new house) of all the things we don’t need.
Thank you for such an inspiring post. I loved the way your writings engage easily with your audiences. Almost everyone has the tendency to shop in their lifetime, it is only about what is bought that differs them from others. The meaning of things has somehow became blurry in this era, as some people buy just to consume, and they buy according to what they want and not need. Differentiating between the wants and needs is one of the hardest tasks when you are in a shopping mall filled with stuffs you desire. But I’ve learnt to constantly ask myself “Do I really need this?,” it was the best way to avoid from shopping temptations. I also admire your little steps taken upon working towards being a minimalist. Decluttering unwanted and unused stuffs are one of the hardest things to be done as everything means so much to me. But finally, when I needed to further my studies in Australia, I’ve cleared out my wardrobe and I’ve donated at least 3 large boxes of clothing, soft toys, bags, etc. I felt rather proud and relieved at the same time. Unknowingly, I’m actually pretty surprised how much I have. I came to realize that having too much items can sometimes be a burden.
Thanks again for the inspiration.
Pingback: Links Worth Sharing - Week of November 2, 2013 - Simply Frugal
Where is this island? It sounds heavenly!
I also need to minimize, and am looking for that last little inspiration to push myself across the line.
I absolutely love this! Thanks so much for sharing!