I didn’t realize I was becoming a minimalist living abroad until one day I went through all of my ‘stuff’. I counted all of my life’s belongings. This is what I have:
Laptop, cellphone, earphones, Bluetooth speaker, six pairs of underwear, six pairs of socks, one pair of jeans, four button-down shirts, three t-shirts, one pair of shorts, three pairs of shoes, two sweaters, two jackets, two watches, one belt, one hat, one pair of sunglasses, one shower towel, one toothbrush, wallet, Amazon Firestick, waterproof phone case, digital camera, film camera, and my backpack.[sg_popup id=”1″ event=”hover”][/sg_popup]
That’s it. Forty-five belongings; forty-five items to bring with me when I move. Eleven kilograms to lug around in my backpack when fully packed (and half of that weight is my trusty laptop restored from the stone age). That’s how much I brought with me when I decided to move across the world with a one-way ticket.
A lot of people head out of the country with a one-way ticket and travel around for six months or a year. I give those people major props. Travel wears on you and that kind of commitment is trying. I’ve gone one or two months on the road and by the end, there’s nothing more that I want than a place to call my own. Those people are real travelers.
However, when I moved, I moved. After about a month of traveling, I landed in my end destination – Malta. After four months, I’m still on the island. I have a few jobs and I’m starting a temporary life with the few possessions I brought with me. I didn’t buy any extra stuff when I arrived because I know that in a year or so, I could be ready for my next move.
The Minimalist who didn’t know
I was always familiar with minimalism; someone who lives extremely conservative – only taking what is needed and only consuming what is absolutely important. I thought it was an inspirational lifestyle but never considered myself a minimalist. I was always intrigued but never ready to commit to it.
That was the confusion. I thought it took a commitment. In my mind, if I wasn’t holding a garage sale in order to sell all of my belongings, I wasn’t a minimalist.
Then came moving time and I started making a list of any belongings that held value to me. As I did this, I noticed I was parting ways with a lot of stuff. Stuff that was previously important to me but held no value to me on the road.
I sold my car, gave away my clothes, and pawned a few electronics and gave a few away. I even left behind my all-important baseball memorabilia collection. I packed two medium-sized moving boxes of items with sentimental value (mostly photographs, ticket stubs, and journals) and stuffed them in the back of the closet of my parent’s home. The rest I packed into my 50L backpack with a lot of room left in it and I set out on the road.
But still, I didn’t see myself as a minimalist. It wasn’t until I saw the documentary “Minimalism” on Netflix that I felt my life reflected the idea of minimalism. Soon, I started realizing that people had been commenting on the amount of luggage I had brought to Malta the entire time.
Project 333 – becoming a minimalist
I witnessed new flatmates hauling in two checked suitcases along with their carry-on’s that are stuffed far past the given allowance for stays in Malta that were far shorter than my own. It started to dawn on me that maybe I had committed to the lifestyle. After all, I had very limited possessions with me.
I ran into Project 333 in the documentary I watched from The Minimalists. It’s a worthy movement that tries to open people’s eyes to the amount of clothes and accessories they have. The idea is to own less than 33 items of clothes – including accessories, jewelry, and other things you wear on your body.
Before becoming aware of this project, I had exactly 33 items and a large majority of those items were socks and underwear. I was borrowing – which is a key to minimalism. It’s a sort of community movement. Suddenly, borrowing a pair of shorts from another guy isn’t such an uncommon, weird thing to ask of your roommate. You start to rely on others a little bit more.
This isn’t to say you’re mooching off others possessions. The right people will understand and also borrow things from you. Minimalism becomes a lot more difficult if you’re not prepared to share.
The more I thought about that, the more it bothered me. Society has become radically selfish. It’s something I never noticed until I realized that I may have adopted a style.
What have I noticed since I adopted Minimalism?
I’m living life more stress-free. It sounds cliché, but it is utterly true. Think about a life having eliminated so many choices in life. What will I wear in the morning? How will I afford a suit and tie that I will wear once a year? Is it worth the cost to repair my 18-year-old car that could give out any day? But I need a car, right? There are few choices to make with this way of living.
I spend virtually no time-consuming goods. Back home, I used to spend far too much time on Amazon, just browsing. I was, admittedly, an online shop-a-hollic. I have, to be honest, it helps that Amazon doesn’t ship (or charges outrageous shipping fees) to Malta. However, I think I’ve successfully ditched that part of my old life.
I’m a lot more resourceful than I used to be. When you don’t have the right gear or utensil, instead of purchasing it to use once, you find a way to get around having it. Part of being resourceful is borrowing from friends. Part of it is recycling. I don’t throw away near as many things anymore. I fix things that break and it pains me when I need to buy new things.
My ways have changed and I am so fortunate they did. It’s a much more rewarding way of life and leads to more happiness, more freedom, and closer friendships. In a world full of materialism, I’m proud to say that I have officially escaped it.
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