Real Life Minimalists: Starlet Rose

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.

Today, Starlet Rose tells us how minimalism gave her the freedom and confidence to conquer her anxiety problems. She’s currently chronicling her journey and interests on her blog.

Starlet Rose writes:

I wasn’t born a minimalist. I was always organised but I wanted to collect something. I suffered anxiety problems from being young and suffered social phobia as a teen. By the time of fourteen I felt to terrified to leave the house in case I met ‘someone,’ saw me. I spent most of my time alone in my bedroom. My main contact with the outside world was via penfriends. I didn’t want to tell them I was housebound so I collected so I had something to say.

I gained an interest in alternative therapies. I started to collect crystals and other things like that. I was always looking for the answer to my problems. There was always someone out there selling a cream, or a bracelet or something that claimed that by buying it I would be filled with confidence and able to sort out any problem that life threw at me. It was like a magical charm only it never worked.

I felt that I had nothing to be proud of. I had suffered social phobia so badly I hadn’t taken exams at school. I had never worked properly. I was trying to feel pride in the possessions that I had because I felt so ashamed of who I was. I was trying to buy my identity because I was not sure of whom I really was.

I hid behind the things I bought, I was going to better if I bought one more thing, or read one more book or tried one more self-help group. I could put of my recovery off until tomorrow. I got to the point where I realised I knew all the theory about social phobia but wasn’t getting over it.

I felt unsure of what to do next. Then I saw a psychic on the internet that I had met in person years ago. I couldn’t remember much but knew I liked him and he had given me good advice. I decided to have a reading with him. As I am a single mother to a young child I chose a remote photo reading, where I simply had to email a photo and wait for the reading. His reading did make a lot of sense but one telling part of it was that in order to move forward with my life I had to de-clutter my possessions and my mind. He explained that my energy was liked a blocked pipe and until I unblocked it things would not change in my life. I knew he was right so I started on de-cluttering. There were possessions and beliefs I knew I no longer needed. I don’t drive so relied on the charity van making its monthly collection so de-cluttering sometimes seemed slow, but I was determined to do it.

The more I got rid of the more I realised I didn’t need it. But, even more scary was that I realised many aspects of my social phobia were being caused by materialism. I never had any interest in fashion, yet I bought clothes on the basis of trying to wear the right thing in other people’s eyes, I bought things to try to solve my problems, and I went in search of my true nature. It was then I turned to minimalism. I purged my home getting rid of excess and all the things that had been false dreams.

The more I got rid of the free I became. The less I owned the more clear my mind became and the more aware I became of who I really am. Once I stopped looking for the miracle cure outside of myself suddenly my confidence soared. I managed to look people in the eye for the first time ever in my life and I feel as though I am moving on with life. I do feel as though I owe my recovery to minimalist at least in part, without turning to minimalism I felt I was trapped in a prison of possessions. I had to buy more to keep up and be the person they represented instead of who I am.

I realise my interests consist of writing, nature, herbs and spirituality. I don’t need to own a lot of have those interests. My blog covers these subjects and more. I started blogging some years ago as a way of simply seeing where it took me. It is steadily gaining more focus over time, but covers a range of topics.

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

16 comments to Real Life Minimalists: Starlet Rose

  • Brian

    What an inspiring tale! I particularly liked your comment, “I hid behind the things I bought, I was going to better if I bought one more thing, or read one more book or tried one more self-help group. I could put of my recovery off until tomorrow.” I can SO identify with the hiding behind the things you bought, as I once went through a very similar phase.

    Clutter and ‘stuff’ definitely holds us back, and I am delighted that you are now starting to feel more free the more you declutter.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Lovely story! I added your blog to my reading list. Love it! :)

  • so glad you are doing better :) Social phobia is super hard. It is sad how much we let the way ‘we think other’ people think of us to make such an impact on our life.

  • Ashley

    Thanks for sharing your story, Starlet. I also can identify with a lot of what you said. For me it has been amazing to get rid of things I was “supposed to” – supposed to read, supposed to wear, supposed to care about or be interested in. Instead my life is now opened up for what I *actually* want to read, wear, study, do. It’s so liberating! (It’s also a daily process – I’m always amazed at how insidious clutter can be.)

  • Wow. That was an incredible story, Starlet. I can definitely identify with you when you say that it was almost like you were trying to buy your identity with the possessions you owned. I felt very much like that as well. I wouldn’t go as far as saying I had social-phobia but I definitely wasn’t very confident.

    It must have been an incredibly liberating experience for you. I know I don’t know you… and I don’t know if these words mean much… but I am proud of you and I am excited for the adventures that will take place in your life in the years to come :)

    Thanks for sharing! It was a pleasure to read.

  • mrs Brady Old Lady

    I reckon you’re the most courageous person I’ve ever met in cyberspace!!! I’ve bookmarked your site and will read it entirely at leasure.

    Just curious – how does a person with severe social phobia manage to be near a man long enough to get pregnant????

    • CoCoYoYo

      Starlet Rose, I must say that I see a bit of myself in you. The idea about “[getting] better if I buy one more thing” REALLY hit home. Wishing you nothing but the best :)

      Mrs. Brady, was wondering the same ;)

  • Debbie

    Beautiful story! Thanks for sharing.

  • Wow what an incredible story! You’ve really been on a voyage of discovery – I loved hearing about how freeing you found decluttering as that’s one of my favourite benefits. I work with a few clients who have anxiety and you’re absolutely right – there is not one easy fix but a combination of elements that help. I bet the psychic you used would love to read this story too :) I know I love feedback from my clients. Even psychic’s like to know they’ve been helpful and useful :) A psychic’s job is to be accurate and supportive but they can’t fix things for other people, feel proud that you were able to carried out the actions that supported your recovery. Fiona,x

  • Carolyn

    I got to the point where I realised I knew all the theory about social phobia but wasn’t getting over it.

    I do understand! I too got to the point where I was just tired of “understanding” my problems … having too many possessions is overwhelming. Definitely, decluttering helps a great deal.

  • This is so timely! I’ve been reading your blog but really connected with Starlet’s experience.
    Like her, I realized the idea that you’re never enough is complete BS and a horrible way to treat yourself. She mentioned crystals, haha- I’ve got a growing collection!
    But the idea that you must buy something else because you are flawed is central here- and in my own budding work with minimalism.
    That, and I plain don’t like dusting everything.
    Thanks for sharing, Starlet (Samantha)!

  • very authentic and human his narrative, could write a book about his personal history, self discovery, realizing that materialism was his being detained and escape and find that nature itself should be in a more come Book

  • Tina

    Went to several psychiatrists. I was always told I would “grow out” of my problems. Took a bout of severe depression to be properly diagnosed. I am lucky my problems are due to various chemical imbalances and drugs solve the problem. Minimalism keeps my house uncluttered so I can manage. Cluttered places make me very uncomfortable.

  • Tina

    I am filling this week’s bag for Goodwill with some shirts I was given but won’t use. I just gave away a bag of potting soil I don’t need as I only grow a few plants on my balcony ever summer. My son called to tell me he heard some retired people watch over 50 hours of TV every week. I spent the morning taking my friend to her Dr. Appt and then picking up her meds.

  • Tina

    Every week I give the library a stack of books. I give Goodwill a big bag or 2. The house wasn’t cluttered before but there is a lot less now. drawers are all half-empty and bookshelves can be given away. There are so many positives in having less. I still need to fix a few things but the less there is the better I feel.

  • I gave away a painting I had never displayed. I still have more to get rid of. I got a bunch of catalogs in the mail and realized they showed the kind of junk my mother bought. Plastic dishes, junk jewelry, fake collector’s items. Lots of coin purses. Magazine subscriptions to magazines no one ever heard of.

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