I have been a minimalist all my life. But I never really knew it.

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Photo by Jack B on Unsplash

While I was growing up, I cannot say that I did not have toys, I did, probably I had enough. However, I was not the type of child who wanted more toys or more Barbies. Rather I wanted the best of the best toy out there. I wanted to be the best in whatever I was doing. I was, still am, a perfectionist. I always had few things. Such as: few Barbies, few clothes for my Barbies, few clothes for myself. I did not wear or buy make up when I was in high-school. My priority was to be beautiful, but I was dreaming of a natural beauty to be. I had the same clothes, with few shirts that I would change. I was washing my socks and panties by hand. I was using the money the government would give to children up until they are 18 years old to buy the essentials for a girl of my age at that time: deodorant, always (because they are the best and the most comfortable ones, the safety ones), shampoo, conditioner and a Dove soap for my face. I had no moisturiser. I used to buy something with prescription from my doctor to use on my face as I had a type of acne to deal with. I did not have money to buy myself junk food from the local shop near school or to smoke or to drink coffee or cappuccino. I did not have that urge to do that. I was not popular in school. I had very good grades and I have always been studious and serious and I would always do my homework. While growing up, I remember I actually was not really concerned of the fact that people were not speaking to me or that I was not the girl that inspired boys to be their girlfriend, I was concerned with how I look, but for me, I was concerned I would not get married because I was so skinny, so faded, so shy, so “not popular”. And only popular girls, beautiful ones, that would wear make up and dress nicely and sexy would get that chance. Then I remember growing up and I became prettier, as I have left my hair longer, I have seen I look prettier with long hair, with the right clothes (although I still did not have something particularly trendy to wear for that period of time) and I have started liking myself. Even though I would still dream at the girls that I fancied as beautiful and that I wanted to resemble with, as I imagined that those features I was seeing in other girls, and that I liked, must make that girl, possessing such beautiful traits, blessed, and I craved at feeling happy or content with my looks. I used to watch soap operas and boy, I loved it. I liked Thalia, Natalia Oreiro, Anahi, I wanted to be all of them. All the characters with all their things. With all their beauty and clothes and lives and easiness of being in this world. Of having things happened for them. Of happiness.

Then someone liked me. I was a bit confused. Someone really likes me ? But I was not into that person. I knew how that person might feel as that was how I felt when I liked someone and they would not be interested in me. I kind of wanted to say thank you to those boys who found me pretty because I felt their feelings, I felt I was hurting their feelings. I have lived in minimalism my whole life and I have never even known it. I ate little, I tried to use as little as possible of anything that was around me. I tried to keep my things as long as possible and in the best condition possible. I have tried to not hurt anyone and probably because I was scared of making someone else feel what I felt when I liked someone who was not into me, that I became even more shy than I previously was.

I was so happy and so free when I had few things, few clothes, few stuff. Even though, comparing myself with other girls or friends, I felt so bad. I felt like someone who did not belong there. Someone that is always not having something. I was not into smoking. I was not into drinking. Coffee or what ever. I did not go out. I did not like to meet new people. I did not know how to react, or what to talk about. Because I had and still have a little very good selection of themes that I am interested in. And I am very selective. I am interested in things that not anyone believes or finds it useful. Or does not think it is important or that it actually exists. I have been always so independent. And I always thought that I needed someone to fulfil me, because this is what you grow up with.

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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Minimalism is within ourselves. My grandmother used to describe me her childhood, she used to tell me stories about how she and her brother would invent things and toys and stories and games and they were so happy. They only had one piece of cloth, they did not even wear shoes on summer and they were happy. Because their mind was not cluttered with all the things that now clutter our minds, our spirits, our souls and especially our time. When we have lots of things, we need to organise them, we need to take care of them, we need to do x and y for it. We need to be in time for something. We need to be there for that thing. Whereas, back in the days, you only needed to take care of you, there in the momentum and you would not miss the chance to play with that tree, with that new game invented, with that cat or new child on the road. We are now so concerned with what we wear to impress the new child on the road, that we totally forget what the whole experience should be about.

When I was in high school, my best friend thought I was gay because I was not interested in any boy around or would not speak or gossip about anyone as she did or as the other girls would do. At that time (when it did not exist the thing with do not insult the gay people, they have their rights too, do not be a racists or do not discriminate) I felt like I was a special kind of person but in the perverted way, although I am not gay or anything alike, people judge. The fact that it was my best friend who even considered that, made me feel so alone. I was simply not interested in boys. I was interested in myself. I was interested in my day dreaming about how I would change the world, or how something extraordinary would happen and my life would totally be changed. I always day dreamed about my own house, about something amazing that I would discover or create or offer to the world. I was dreamy. I wanted so bad to create something outstanding. To be the best version of myself and to be the best of the best. I dreamt of myself, not about boys or sex or smoking or whatever. I admired girls who looked nice and who took care of themselves, and mostly I liked the ones that were naturally beautiful, that were not wearing make up. I wanted to be them and have the life that I dreamt or imagined that they had. So this is where things get confused. This is where the minimalism ends. When you start comparing yourself with others, you wish their things. This is when I wanted their dresses, their bags, their clothes and so on. That’s how you become a consumerist.

Thing is that I eventually graduated. From high-school and from uni. When I graduated from high-school I wanted to have my own money to be able to spend it how I want and on lots of stuff I needed and on other stuff I thought I needed. That includes clothes, of course. I took a job at a newspaper dealing with ads and I cannot say I enjoyed it. I didn’t. From that first salary, I remember buying myself a very beautiful shirt, white with small light pink flowers all over. It looked nice on me. That was my first ever purchase and I think I still have it, just as a remembrance of that first item I bought with my own money. And I loved that shirt. I then gained a bit more weight and it really does not fit me anymore.

I only had that job though for around 2 months. I then started uni and I wanted to learn and be the best I could be in my field. I studied Psychology. I remember I was not able to purchase too many things in that first year as I did not receive a lot of money from my parents to do that. And I really could not afford anything else than the basics of any woman. So, obviously, because I wanted to take on some courses and build my knowledge with psychology, I took on a different job after a couple of months and the money started going on stuff that I rarely wore, on things I rarely used and on stuff that eventually, in time, I did have to take to the garbage. As those were impulse things I purchased that they do not matter not even to be named here. At one point in time, I remember feeling overwhelmed by the fact that I had some nice clothes, but not really something that can be worn on different occasions. I found myself buying the same type of item, in different colors or with slight variations of the material used or was buying some piece of clothing that could not be worn with anything. Because they seemed to be from totally different movies.

I was purchasing whatever made me feel good about myself by having that thing, by owning that piece of shit. I was buying pieces that were more of a sample of the puzzle of what I wanted to discover about myself. About my self, my personality, about me. I discovered that I was buying things that were different, that were unique, that not anyone would have or even afford (at some periods of time in my life) simply so that I could portray myself as ME. As if everything that I owned was creating this human being that I am.

Because whenever you purchase something, you showcase your personality through that item. When you put your eyes on something, that is your personality becoming something material, to be shown to everyone. We all want to shine and to be known as stars in something. We all wish to attain the stars. We all want to be the sun to someone. So we glitter ourselves with all these things that populate our earth with the hope that someone will see our shining personalities and will love us. And that, that someone will want us. And will come after us, like the prince in all those fairytales.

That’s why it’s so hard to stop buying. Because you cannot stop showing yourself, or wishing to show yourself as you want to attract someone. You do not want to be alone. Being a minimalist in a way translates into having few things, dealing with fewer items and being in love with less. Not wanting to make your star shine. Not pursuing a special person to love your shining ass.

Being a minimalist means you are happy with how much you have. You are happy with who you are as you are. You do not need anything to adorn yourself to make others want you. Because you are enough as you are. It means you love yourself as you are.

You do not need someone for you to understand you are lovable. You simply are already. Getting to this stage it is not easy in a consumerist world, where everything must be labelled, where society teaches you how to act. We are like in that book the writer Aldous Huxley wrote, do not remember the name, but the idea was that there were people brought up into the world to become something in particular. They were fed the idea into their minds from infants that they are x, y, z and in this way they would know what they need to become and what their purpose would be in life. They would be enough and would not pursue more than that. By comparison, we are grown not as human beings, with the right to be alive as we are. We are grown up by society as animals that need to be conditioned for a special purpose. To consume. BUT. To be able to consume, you need a job, to have a job, you kinda need a degree or something, unless you are happy to work something hard and paid less and enjoy your addictions: TV, internet, movies, clothes, alcohol, food, cigarettes, etc. We are thought these things before we are even born, as parents think about what their children will become, they create accounts to fund them for schooling and they save up money for making sure they, you and me, will become what it is expected of us.

We are expected to be something that consumes. Something that buys. Something that goes to work to pay bills.

We are expected not to be minimalists. Because a minimalist would not consume as much as we are thought we need to. A minimalist will not be forced into working something they dislike, as their minds are clear and they know what they need to do to make a living. A minimalist can inspire others to be a minimalist because it sets people’s mind free, and when people’s minds are free, people act as free. They are free from the consuming society. Free from the burden of responsibilities that are made up to be able to help the sustainability of the consumerist society.

If you are an active member of the consumerist society, you are not free. I am not saying here, you have to never purchase again anything or you need to make up your own garden. I am saying a minimalist would find ways to live on less, and consume less, to use more what still is in their possession before disposing of it. And then buy a new stuff. Fast fashion is something a minimalist would never really consider on a monthly basis. I am not a fully customised minimalist yet (but working on becoming a a-la-carte one), but I only shop like that once a year when I truly need something new (and do not imagine I purchase everything I see and like, as I did in the old younger days), and when old stuff cannot be used/worn anymore.

If you are not a minimalist in any way, you are not free. You are attached to a lot of things that you cannot let go. You are imprisoned to consume and live your life in a circle of work (whatever work needed to bring in the goodies) — consume — work — consume — die.

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