Since this site is about minimalism and about learning how to live with less, I think that is fair to share my story and tell you why I became a minimalist. Don’t get too excited though. It’s not that spectacular transformation. Actually, is quite the opposite. From a person who was previously the life and soul of every party, I became quite a boring guy who daily executes pretty much the same tasks: exercising, reading, writing. Even so, I’m happier than ever.
I would never have imagined that I will ever want to become a person who promotes the idea of living with less stuff. While I was growing up, I was constantly nagging to my parents for them to buy me something: a new pair of sneakers; a video game; a cooler bike. Part of this is because all the kids from my block had cool stuff and only me and my brother lived in an average income family. Now, I don’t want any of those. If my folks ever read this post, they will be probably wishing I became a minimalist a long time ago. Sorry parents.
The Urge For More Stuff
I remember that my mother used to buy me a new pair of shoes once per year. This was when I was around 6 years old. I continued to have only one pair of sneakers till probably the age of 15. Not that I needed more shoes, but the other kids from the block, again, had cooler kicks and I was always looking like a beggar comparing to them: new t-shirts, branded sneakers, cool caps, tennis lessons, video games. I didn’t have any of those and didn’t quite fit around this group of people. That’s why once I started going to school I immediately found new friends that had the same financial issues like me. Well, our parents did back then and we didn’t had much of a choice. But that didn’t solve my problems completely. You all know what happens in school: the cool kids are the ones who have cool things and they get all the girls. That’s why I secretly hoped for a miracle or let’s say the winning lottery ticket to magically appear in my hands.
See, not that my mom and dad didn’t get me the things that I needed to live decently: I mean clothes, food, notebooks, and etc. They did. Simply, as a growing kid who is constantly comparing himself to other kids, no matter if he likes it or not, I didn’t had enough stuff back then comparing to my desires. My parents were earning an average wage and were still able to spoil me once and a while. However, it wasn’t enough in order to become cool as the cool kids in school. At least that’s what I thought I needed, things.
Throughout these years of feeling like a complete nerd, I grew a desire, an urge for more possessions.
Before Becoming a Minimalist
When I graduated school, I was still living with my parents because I didn’t have enough cash to move to my own place. All of the money that I earned, I spend for clothes and for nightclubs. Now that I had a job and I earned money on my own, I was able to afford such things. I was kind of addicted to alcohol, cigarettes, sex, and clothes. All I wanted to do is to go out with my friends, have fun and potentially have sex with a girl I just met. Looking fascinating while doing all of the above. Except for the last part of course, there I wasn’t wearing anything.
I started working my first job when I was 16. My parents didn’t want me to start working at this age. They said something like this: “It’s best to rest, have fun with your friends while you’re still young. You’ll work for the rest of your life. Don’t waste your time working while you still can.” Even though the offer was quite appealing for a teenager, my daily allowance was only enough to cover two coffees from the vending machine across the block. That wasn’t enough. If I wanted to actually touch a girl and do something interesting. I needed some cash. I was broke and working was the only obvious way to earn money and start living the life I thought it’s meaningful.
Even though I was earning a minimum wage myself, it felt like I was rich. I remember how I spend my first salary: new t-shirt, a new pair of jeans, white sneakers and a night out of which I don’t remember much. It was awesome.
That’s how my obsession with stuff developed. Even though I wasn’t able to afford a place on my own, apparently I was able to afford fancy jeans and night out every second day of the week. I had the desire and now I had the resource to acquire what I wanted. Not everything, still, it was kind of enough back then. My dream was to earn enough money so I can purchase fancy clothes, a car and a nice apartment where I can have sex with random girls and eventually find the ONE that I will marry.
STUFF piling up
Approximately after 12 years, I had it all: high salary, expensive clothes, two cars, nice apartment near downtown, and relationship with a beautiful girl. We love each other so much. My job is super interesting. The things I own are quite a few but still, there I was, thinking about what next should I purchase that will supposedly make my life perfect.
During the week I often caught myself scrolling through the net and searching for something to buy: a new watch, new hat, new sunglasses maybe? I didn’t quite matter. I was a stuff junkie and things were getting worse. With each year passing, the things I wanted to buy were becoming much more expensive. The clothes I had were multiplying like crazy and it was getting out of hand.
On weekends, me and my girl often went to the mall to buy something new for an upcoming event. The stupidest thing was that I wear a lot of clothes only once. For example, I bought jeans, shirts, accessories that I purchased only for a particular event. These clothes didn’t fit with everything else I had and I wasn’t able to combine them with anything after that particular night. That’s why, I had a lot of stuff standing proudly in my wardrobe, never to be worn again.
But that’s not all. Like any other man who is nearly 30 and has a decent relationship with a woman, I started neglecting my body. I ate too much and I exercised too little. Quite normally, a lot of my old clothes didn’t fit anymore because I was gaining weight. Day after day, month after month, my room became an exhibition of the clothes that once fit me. The clothes that I will never wear again.
I HAD ENOUGH
One day I woke up after a night out. I was still dizzy from all the alcohol I drank last night and the feeling of personal disappointment quickly took hold of my whole body. My mind was confused, baffled: “Why? Why are you doing this to yourself? Why do you drink, eat, and consume so much stuff? Don’t you have enough? Aren’t you satisfied with what you have?” My body was rejecting my behavior and it was trying to find a good reasoning behind my actions. There wasn’t such. “Is this the example I want to give my children one day? That they should blindly consume without having a limit and a bigger goal?” Hell, it wasn’t. I had to do something.
You see, it’s much easier to say “Yes” to more things in general. More money, more food, more relationships, more stuff. The opposite is hard, though. Rejecting the temptations we are daily exposed to require willpower, strong temper, self-control, a higher purpose. Things few of us have and even fewer try to obtain.
The Modern Lie
All the people around me constantly speak about acquiring more stuff, consuming: “What new thing did you buy? Where are you going on vacation this summer/winter? Did you watch the latest TV show? When are you going to get promoted?” I bet it’s the same with your friends. And you can’t be surprised but this way of thinking.
Throughout our entire lives, we are exposed to only one path for us to follow: Study hard. Get good grades. Go to college. Say what other people what to hear. Climb the corporate ladder. Buy a nice car. Get a big house. Go to expensive vacations. Repeat this till you die.
More, more, more. But where’s the creative part? We grow with the idea that our life goals should be acquiring physical things. Rather than creating something long lasting that can potentially help others. Modern economy sold us the idea that we need to get more things in order to be happier.
I was sold myself to this idea. I bought clothes like crazy. Dreamed about purchasing a fancy car and a nice apartment. One day, when I had it all, I felt confused: “Ok, I now have everything, why I’m still miserable?”
Clearly, the reason wasn’t physical. There wasn’t an outside reason for my unhappiness. It was a state of mind. My way of thinking.
Luckily, I found sites that promote the idea of living with less stuff and decluttering. I read books, watched videos on the topic and I slowly began to realize why these people are giving away their stuff and why they are now living with only essential things. One of the videos that made a lasting impression was actually a Ted talk by The Minimalists. In less than 15 minutes, Joshua Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus showed me that there is another way.1
At that point, I knew this is the lifestyle I should adopt.2
Why I Became a Minimalist?
Firstly, because at some point in my life I understood that I don’t quite value the things I already had. Secondly, because I was focusing my time on obtaining things, rather than creating such. I was passively living my life. Consuming, craving for more and not giving anything back to the world.
I was also obviously indifferent from my weigh and the way I look – I was fat. Even though I was able to quit smoking and drinking before the age of 28, I was still quite a mess. I needed an hour to focus. I was constantly distracted by the messages I received on my smartphone. My mind was racing and not able to sit and write for 10 minutes straight. I took me probably a week to publish a post. Unlike now, when I only need a couple of hours alone to write a piece of content that is good and long around 2,000 words. Minimalism boosted productivity big time.
Over the years, this desire for more only grew. The more I got the more I wanted. I stopped at some point and thought: “How is this going to end? If I only buy, buy and buy things, where will this lead me?” My best guess was bankrupt, weighing 150 kilograms, and permanently unhappy. Even worse, what example I would be for the people around me and more particularly for my kids – when I have such.
I felt terrified from my potential future and I looked for a solution. Fortunately, I knew what I needed to do. I had to embrace the minimalist lifestyle.3
What’s Different Now
After years of piling up stuff and crowding my mind with thoughts that I didn’t had to let inside in the first place, I was now feeling free. I felt immediate relief once I started decluttering, both my closet and my mind.
I no longer waste my time on the net searching for something new to buy. I don’t care much about what others think about me when I say that I don’t want new clothes. I rarely drive my car. Nowadays you can see me rolling on my bike:
When I travel I no longer take half of my apartment with me. I take only the essentials now. I exercise regularly and I eat kind of healthy. I’m much more focused and I spend my time the way I want, not the way other people tell me to. I’m far from perfect, that’s for sure, but I’m more productive, controlled, focused and happier. I manage my time really strictly as I consider this my greatest asset.
I no longer sleep till noon. Like I used to do when I was in my early 20ies. I rarely eat sweet stuff. I quit smoking, drinking. I go to the mall only my current clothes are worn off and I simply need a replacement. I don’t crave owning the newest gadget on the market. I know that these things won’t make me happier or change my life.
After reading the above you might think that I live quite a boring life. Well, to be honest, it’s not that thrilling or adventurous. But it’s the life I want to live now.
Why you should consider becoming a minimalist?
In short: To make a positive impact in our world. To change your future. To gain control over your time, finances, thoughts and life in general.
If you often catch yourself scrolling online, thinking about what should be your next purchase. If you think more about what you’re going to wear than what you can create that can help others. If your constant financial situation is owing money to the bank. Then, you’ve fallen into the modern trap: where the whole society is convincing you that you need more to be happier.
Minimalism allowed me to be happy at this current moment. With my current self. With my current possessions. I no longer had to wait till I acquire X amount of stuff to be really satisfied. I learned to adore what I already had and direct my desires towards a different direction. A much more meaningful path.
Instead of wishing to buy a bigger house or a fancier car, I now wished to have enough time to create content that will inspire others to become better. Doing work I loved. Share time with family and my friends. To block the outside noise and find an inner balance. A peaceful place where creativity wins over consumerism.
You can watch the video here. It’s called A rich life with less stuff.
As I mentioned, I stumbled on TheMinimalists website a couple of years ago. Their journey was something I didn’t understand back then but over the years I knew that what they were doing made perfect sense for me.