Real Life Minimalists: Jessica

Every Monday I post Real Life Minimalists, a profile of one of my readers in their own words. If you’d like to participate, click here for details. (Note: the schedule is now full until February — but if you don’t mind waiting, feel free to send me your submission!)

Today, we hear from Jessica, a long-time reader and commenter. She tells us how minimalism has changed her life, and inspired her to share her experiences on her wonderful blog, Minimal Student.

Jessica writes:

The summer before I moved away to university I realized I was in quite a dilemma.

I had so much stuff that I would never be able to fit it all in one car (unless either myself or my Dad – the driver, wanted to skip the journey).

That’s when I knew that I had to get let a lot of it go. But recognizing I wouldn’t have a lot of money living by myself sent me into a frugal mentality which meant that I didn’t want to waste money or throw anything away in case I needed it one day.

In the end I started to look around for ways to constructively get rid of my stuff. A friend of mine suggested holding a boot sale, so I did. When I saw how much extra space I gained and how much money I made from junk that I didn’t even need, I became addicted to getting rid of stuff. I began putting things up for sale or auction, or just simply donating it.

Bit by bit I chipped away most of my belongings; clothes, shoes and books. I realized that instead of feeling sad or regretful, I actually felt better for it.

Then I went online and found others who felt the same. These people would become my minimalist heroes, heroines and friends. I felt inspired by the movement away from consumerism. Looking at the masses of people converting from collecting and hoarding to selling and giving made me want to join them.

Eventually the question arose, why not share my experiences? So I started the Minimal Student blog to reach out to others like me who are trying to find happiness and balance through minimalism. I just hope I can share my happiness with as many people as I can.

Since I’ve started, I’ve never looked back. I feel I’m part of a massively growing community that is trying to turn the tides on the old ways of thinking about what wealth and success really mean.

The support I get from my fellow minimalists has been a lifeline for me and has given me strength when times are tough. But it’s not hard to continue along this path if I observe the rewards I’ve reaped from minimalism. My life has changed and improved so much I can’t even begin to imagine where I would be now if I hadn’t stumbled across minimalism all those months ago.

This fall, I will be beginning my year abroad in a completely foreign country, Japan. Without minimalism, I would have been afraid to leave behind all of the stuff I would have been attached to. But now, I feel fearless because I know that I don’t need things to be happy.

I have found happiness within me, so I now can take it wherever I go.

{If you’d like to read more about minimalist living, please consider buying my book, The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide, or subscribing to my RSS feed.}

Related posts:

  1. Real Life Minimalists: Monica McCarthy
  2. Real Life Minimalists: Sarah
  3. Real Life Minimalists: Warren and Betsy Talbot

17 comments to Real Life Minimalists: Jessica

  • You blog looks great. It’s good to see you jump into this so whole heartedly.

    It’s funny you mention leaving home and not being able to bring everything. My fiancĂ© and I watched a movie last night that was from 1934. It’s an old Western and they were leaving their home town for new unsettled lands. They were all able to grab all of their possessions and put them into their horse and cart.

    They made their own foods and entertainment. There were no big corporations selling them anything. When they were hungry they’d kill a chicken and eat it. When they wanted entertainment they’d start singing.

    The travelled along land that had no previous made paths to another place with no resources. If this doesn’t show how little we need I don’t know what does.

    • Hey Peter, that sounds beautiful! I would love to rent a caravan or buy a bike and do the same one day. (except for killing the chickens… perhaps I’ll go back to vegetarianism for the trip?). As for making my own entertainment, it would be lovely to spend the time just reading novels and writing my own works, ah, that would be the life!

      Jessica.

  • HK

    Great story, Jessica! Very inspirational.

    I follow your blog, and find it interesting. I also enjoy your “101 Things in Japan” blog. I wish I could go there one day.

    HK

  • Hi Jessica, How exciting that you will be going to study in Japan. I love how you write “I found happiness within me…” I look forward to reading more on your blog!

  • Hi Jessica

    I think it’s great that so many young people are grabbing hold of minimalism. I never thought of myself as someone who needed lots of stuff, and as I’ve gotten older I’ve wanted less and less. But since becoming consciously interested in minimalism I can see that the stuff I did think I needed and the stuff I allowed those around me to accumulate has impacted my life greatly. De-stuffing later in life is a much more difficult process I think. So good on you and I hope you continue with the good habits you’ve acquired so early on.

    • Hey Deb,

      I agree that it’s much harder to get rid of stuff when you’re older, since you’ve had more time to collect it. Also, having something for a longer time makes it worth even more sentimentally. But it’s not impossible, and later is better than never. Thanks for your comment!

  • Sue

    Continuing your studies in Japan should be a breeze. Now that you don’t have too much stuff, it will be easy to focus on what you need to. Good luck, Jessica.

    • Thanks Sue, you’re right, without as many distractions I can focus much better on my studies, although whether or not I would call it a breeze is debatable ;) I’m really enjoying my time here and my life is definitely much easier without unnecessary stuff and commitments to clutter it up!

  • Good for you Jessica! You’re so wise (at such a young age!). Good luck in Japan and always.

    • Thanks R.S, I’m flattered that you think so :) I think I’ve made a lot of progress, especially in the last year or two, but I’ve still got a lot to learn – but that’s the kind of stuff that makes life exciting, right? :)

  • Jessica,
    I’m heading over to check out your blog now! I am about to begin uni in a couple of months and I’m also moving to a new state so I have been busy making my life as minimal as I possibly can. Our stories sound very similar. I have just recently begun my own blog as well. I have fallen in love with the wonderful minimalist community online! They are such kind supportive people. University is totally new for me so hopefully I can learn from your blog.

    Also Japan is in my top three countries to visit. I would love to live there. I think that living in Japan will take you to new heights in your minimalist journey. Have fun!!!

    • Hello Debbie, wow, it sounds like we have so much in common! I totally agree with you about the minimalist community online, I’ve never felt more supported about anything else in my life! I wish you the best of luck with your studies, hopefully I’ll hear more from you soon!

      Jessica.

  • Hi, Jessica! Great to see you here. I love it when my favorite bloggers are featured on each other’s blogs! Your website is great – I really enjoy reading it. Thanks for sharing your story with us!

  • “I have found happiness within me, so I now can take it wherever I go.”

    PRECISELY! when you strip yourself of stuff and get free of all the distractions you tend to find yourself… i discovered the same about twenty years ago when i got rid of EVERYTHING (see “misadventures in minimalism” at my blog)…

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