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It’s Not “My Way or The Highway”

When I was first researching #vanlife and the accompanying minimalist movement, I read constantly about people selling everything and investing everything into it. They cited consumerism, the environment, and the elusive “happiness” emotion as reasons they pursued this lifestyle. I also came across people who shoved minimalism in my face through their writing, making it seem as if people who lived this way were “elitist” – they felt that their way of living was the right and only way to do so.

I am here to apologize if anything I’ve ever written has made you feel that way.

The reason I am doing this is not because I think this is the only way to live and anyone who doesn’t do this is wrong. I am here because I wanted a lifestyle change that I think can fit me. It doesn’t have to work for anyone else and it doesn’t even have to make sense, as long as it is what I want to do. My goal is not to force what I’m doing down your throat, I just want to share what I learn along the way.

I wanted to start this journey because I knew I was living in a complete tornado aftermath. After so many moves, accumulations, and just overall unhappiness with how I lived at home, I knew it was time to make a change. But little changes don’t work for me so this was the most drastic thing I could do. And so far it is one of the most motivating things I have done.

Despite me saying I accumulate stuff, honestly I really don’t buy that much. Sure, I get groceries and certain necessities, but I’ve never been one for shopping. I really only buy clothes when I have a need for something but I never got rid of anything along the way so I kept holding on to things I wore in high school or college. I also have a job where we get new clothing items every year – shirts, shorts, sweats, sweatshirts, shoes, etc. Those things I also can’t get rid of (NCAA violations and such) so mostly it builds in quantity.

Alright, I’m not going to get in an environmental fight with anyone so I’ll just leave it at this: I drive a hybrid because gas is expensive and I drive a lot (visiting family, recruiting trips, split second decisions to go somewhere, etc.). I also don’t have to buy environmentally safe products. I’m gonna do what I’m gonna do.

Finally, happiness. I know I cited that it was something I was searching for in my earlier posts. But what even is happiness? I feel it in certain aspects of my life like at my job, with my friends, with my cats… but I never feel it about my living space or my mental space. I don’t know if this pursuit will equal happiness for me, but I do know what I’m dealing with now does not. So why not try something new? And what makes me happy may or may not make the next person happy because the definition is fluid.

Just like happiness, minimalism is fluid. Am I going to reduce my life to exactly 62 items and finally reach peak happiness? Probably not. But maybe that works for someone else. Am I going to be heartbroken when I still can’t get rid of my 6 pairs of Doctor Who socks, which means I have “too many pairs of socks according to some minimalist doctrine”? Absolutely not, because those socks are awesome and if that is what keeps me from being a “minimalist” then so be it. I am making my life minimalist according to me, and no one else.

So if minimalism is what you choose to do, make it you. If you want to be a maximalist, make it your own! And whatever there is in between, who cares… as the current (and sorry, I find it super annoying) Subway commercial sings – “Make it what you want”. No one is “better” than you at minimalism because they own less things or their walls are all white with green plants and such. If you have reached your definition of living, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts, comments, or questions! Check out my Instagram page for some photos of my pursuits because words are sometimes boring.

-LJ

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