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.
I just adore this contribution from Xandra, a self-described “writer, expat, productivity fiend, and bookworm living in Edinburgh, Scotland.” She tells us how minimalism helps her follow her passions and dreams.
As I teenager I believed I ‘could never be a minimalist,’ because I liked books too much, and I adored my massive collection of clothes. My high school schedule was like Hermione’s in Prisoner of Azkaban: I took 10 classes instead of the required 5 and maximum 6, except with no Time Turner. My one treat to myself every morning amidst the chaos was to spend longer than necessary in that closet, challenging myself to piece together an outfit from the treasure trove of clothing I had amassed over the years.
The reason for such academic madness was that I desperately dreamed of going to Oxford, to study in the place that inspired my favourite fictional worlds. When I was accepted, the reality of moving across the ocean struck me: I would have to pack my possessions into a suitcase. I would need to rethink that collection of clothes. It took something as huge and important as this – my biggest, most certain dream of my life – to inspire my change in lifestyle. There’s nothing like moving across the ocean three times a year to remind me of the physical weight of my possessions.
I could sacrifice a few ill-fitting items of clothing. And actually, I decided that I wouldn’t see it as a sacrifice, but as embracing Minimalism, that practice I so admired in others from afar. I kept my styling passion alive, but instead of “what can I make out of too much?” I now ask “what can I make out of less”? I didn’t see a lot of colourful minimalists online, so I started my own website.
As I wrote my book about minimalism, I struggled with the meaning amongst the decluttering tips I wove together. I asked myself, what is the point? The answer I arrived at was that we cut the clutter in our lives – physically, mentally, and emotionally – to make room for what we truly love and who we truly are. I call this “being my own heroine”, and I write about this at HeroineTraining.com.
I no longer have to move thrice a year, and people often ask if I’m “still a minimalist”. I find this a strange question, mainly because it means something different to everyone (as this series illustrates!). To me that question translates as “do you still believe in giving prominence to what is most important to you?” The answer is of course yes. I don’t count my possessions, but I am excruciatingly picky about letting new objects into my life. I own some unessential yet delightful things, like John the ceramic whale water jug. I don’t own a smartphone, but I do have special camera equipment (often used to film videos about minimalism, ironically!). I used to want to be surrounded by as many books as possible, but now I prefer a small curated collection — and that doesn’t mean I love books any less.
Without minimalism, sure, I could still do what I’m passionate about. But with it, I can more easily identify and live the life I desire.