I gave up my business, sold most of my possessions, went from having a whole room as my wardrobe to two shelves of clothing. But does this make me a minimalist?
To me, minimalism isn’t about the number of possessions you have, it’s about how much value you place on the possessions you have kept, including the place you call home and the relationships you have cultivated and maintain. It’s not necessarily about having minimal possessions, although usually this will be the case. You could have a whole house full of stuff, but as long as you really, truly place a positive value in these items, you use it regularly and it makes you happy, then that stuff is worth keeping.
For me, my possessions, certain relationships, my business and my house did not make me happy.
When I was at university, I used shopping for new clothes as a way to create happiness for myself, believing that a new outfit could make me feel better (it didn’t). in 2015, my husband and I decided to use some inheritance as a deposit for a 3 bedroom house. We moved out of our much loved one bedroom apartment in to this newly renovated 3 bedroom house, I filled one room with my ever growing collection of clothes, and we filled the other rooms with furniture we never used, just to fill the space. A year later we found ourselves more miserable than we had been before, with our relationship going through the rockiest point in our 10 year history together. So we rented the house out and moved back in with our parents whilst we figured out the next step. We came to the conclusion we didn’t need as much space, it was the large space that was the problem, so we saved up for yet another deposit to put down on a tiny little town centre flat. The universe was on our side, and there was a lot of complications on the sellers end which led to the sale falling through. That night we both confided in each other that we were not upset, but relieved. For us, we realised that buying somewhere else wasn’t going to make us happy. So instead we looked inward, and truly asked ourselves what would make us happy.
We realised we felt trapped, trapped by our possessions, by our property, by societies expectations of us. We wanted to feel free. It was at this time we came across The Minimalists. We watched their documentary on Netflix and then listened to their books on Audible. And honestly, our lives haven’t been the same since. We realised we both had certain issues in relationships with family and friends that needed to be addressed. That we needed to focus on the things that made us happy, and where we could, reduce the negativity in our lives. Andy left his corporate job, and came to work with me in my vegan cafe. We loved spending so much time together, but felt we needed to focus even more on our health and happiness. As my health issues from my PMDD grew worse from the stress of running such an intense business, we decided that the cafe wasn’t adding value to our lives, it was doing the opposite and making us feel more negative, unhealthy and unhappy. It was a heart breaking realisation, as we knew how happy the cafe made others. I found this particularly difficult as I felt like it would be worth being unhappy to make others happy and to try to help the animals by encouraging people to eat more plant based, and that if I walked away, the people I cared for and animals I wished to save would suffer for my happiness.
But this is exactly why I had to walk away. Because my life is mine, and until I can thrive, I can’t help anyone else thrive. If I stayed, I would have destroyed the business from the inside out due to my own stress, negative headspace and health issues.
We decided we needed a way to live with less.
Less money, less burdens, less stuff, less negativity. Inspired by friends, as well as individuals and couples online living alternative lifestyles, we decided that instead of buying another property like we initially thought we should, that we should buy a campervan. Over the period of a few weeks, we got rid of most of our possessions and moved everything we had left in to our tiny home on wheels. With each item we let go of, we felt a little bit lighter and a little more free. We realised how heavy and burdening our possessions were.
I think if we just had a few possessions, and not gone through this process, we couldn’t call ourselves a minimalist. It’s the mental process we have gone through to get here that makes us minimalists. Because now, we truly value the things we own, and value the things we don’t. Yes, We value not owning things! We value our off grid home that we can live in wherever we feel like. We value our tiny fridge, and understand the luxury of the things we don’t have such as an endless supply of water and a real flushing toilet. We love that we don’t need lots of money to live if we don’t need to pay for lots of stuff. Right now we aren’t making any money, but we’ve saved enough that it’s okay. And when we run out, we won’t have to hand our lives over to the corporate world because we don’t need that much money to survive, or even thrive. That freedom is wonderful and a bigger luxury than being able to afford lots of clothes, shoes, bags and more. We come in many different shapes and sizes, but that’s what makes me a minimalist.
Love and Good Vibes, Ellie xxx