If you knew me at 16-20 years old, you would cringe at how full my wardrobe was and how my dresser was overfilled with a lot of beauty products, from its drawers to the counter. I was a shopaholic, one who is addicted to shopping. I was a self-proclaimed beauty splurging gal and a gal who was trying to keep up with fashion trends. There’s nothing wrong with those (it is actually amazing how many women love fashion & beauty and are dedicated to that!), but how much you’re spending and not making space in your room can be an indication of well… an addiction. An addiction that leaves you guilty to your core and not 100% fulfilling the growth you’ve truly needed …until I discovered minimalism.
For about 3 years now, I’m practicing the concept of minimalism and one of the things I focus on how to not feed into consumerism is the outdoors (and traveling). These are what helped me control how I was then and these are what helped me feel more aligned with my purpose and with more of an accepting well-being.
By the way, I’m not saying you can’t be both stylish and a minimalist (I am that!), but I’m going to talk about my excessiveness with materials back then to becoming comfortable with living with less and how I’ve spiritually felt connected with the concept of less.
Not knowing who I wanted to be
I got into keeping up with trends when I used to watch so many makeup tutorial videos on YouTube and being fascinated by lifestyle and beauty vloggers. It just seemed like what they were doing was super fun and it was a way for them to express themselves. My intention, however, was to never be a lifestyle and beauty vlogger or blogger.
I wanted to express myself too. Buying makeup and keeping up with trying to own high-end and low-end brands and then experimenting on my face became a hobby. I liked experimenting with the plethora of pop of colors and then I was getting into owning the cutest outfits. I liked pairing both of them because it bought a load of confidence that I’ve been searching for.
The thing was that even after I had that mentality, I was still searching for myself. Shopping was then starting to feel guilty for me and it became worst when I got my first job at 18 years old. I used to work in retail (I worked in it for 3 years) and it was that instance that after a lot of my work shifts, I’d head to shopping around the store and using my paychecks to buy these items.
I can find myself to be an impulsive person and I was dumb, young, and naive and finances didn’t seem like such a big deal to me back then. I did not even know how to understand finances. You see, I came from a family who didn’t quite educate finances to my siblings and I. My family was just the same as I was; they loved to splurge and some of the finances with my family were a mess. I don’t want to get into details for the respect of the privacy of the family, but it played a huge impact on how I was becoming at this point as a teenager.
I needed to feel some sort of gratification but I felt my true connection wasn’t really there when I spent money on things I would wear once or hardly and then I’d look at the items like… they’re just items. I also believed that shopping was a way to mask the anxiety and depression I felt. I just knew something in me was missing and not a single soul could tell me what that was, not even me, until…
It took me to a breaking point to realize my behavior.
My family and I moved out of the house I have lived in since I was 9 years old. At the time, my ex-boyfriend, who helped me pack up my stuff in boxes, and I came to the realization that I had filled up 6 LARGE-sized boxes with only clothes. I was so stubborn to let go of these items, so I kept them.
I had realized that through this moving, and moving 4 times later in 3 years, I had no choice but to keep downsizing. It was overwhelming and I slowly kept getting rid of all these items. I had to let go. I couldn’t be attached to things anymore. I had to let go of adding a new thing on top of another through materials because I was already getting rid of one old thing from another. That just made me feel too much weight on my shoulders and it’s so unnecessary.
I shifted my mind to instead adding a new idea on top of another of how I could be more responsible and to work on myself in general. I transfigured this mind to consistent productivity and by that, I mean making my achievements mean more. My style changed over time and when I began adulting more when I lived with myself (and roommates) instead of with my parents, it was hard to budget things. I couldn’t go out and get myself random items to splurge on (ahem, I needed food to eat morning to night, I needed gas for my car to drive to work, and I needed to live in a place every day!). I was relying on myself and I needed to rely on myself to be financially responsible.
At the beginning of college, my friends inspired me to travel and I would sometimes go traveling with my family (I did NOT travel a single time when I was in high school for four years but I did travel a lot too when I was younger), I then got hit with that dang travel bug.
Wait… travel and the outdoors helped me be self-aware?
Besides the constant moving around, yep, traveling and being outside made me recognize that I can go with less. I can be satisfied outside with just a backpack and wearing an outfit I have worn over 50 times.
You can’t have everything. You may have known that already, but it’s soooo true. I had to either choose from “Should I spend my money on clothes/makeup, EDM concerts (that’s a different story), or travel?” I sacrificed things and I feel better knowing how freeing it feels to be with less.
I can now actually see all the options of clothes I can wear. I can put together a stylish cute outfit by changing around pieces and layering them. I can just buy makeup only when I run out of it (plus keeping palettes of eyeshadow that can look the same, am I realistically going to use all of them?). I also do not need to get my nails done monthly (maybe once a year only) when I have always had the skills to paint my own nails?!
The outdoors was a big step for me to explore minimalism.
Since I broke into hiking this year, it’s helped me keep up with my health and wellness more than anything. It’s become routinely and not forced, like the times I would go to the gym after work or school because I was worried I had been committed to a paid membership yet I was not too excited about it (an example of how I wasn’t placing value on what’s important to me then). The gym never gave me as much adrenaline and good feelings as the outdoors do. (Thank youuu, Arizona, for helping me love it!!!) Although that may be a different story for you and you may get into a different type of exercise or sport that will relieve you from addiction.
So, how does walking on a trail help me? MINDFULNESS and meditation. I can clearly think better and understand gratitude. I’m grateful that my body works and I’m even more grateful that I’m using my time to do this instead of going from store to store in the mall. It’s given me a hobby and it’s helped me express myself once again because I’m creating content from my own adventures.
Lastly, I’ve always worked hard and I should know my value.
I worked all throughout college and most of those roles were low paying positions. I should’ve known to save every penny on more important things like towards my education and etc. But, you learn life lessons as you go and that’s how it’s always been for everyone.
I still work hard whether it’s for this blog, marketing, freelancing, etc. I wear different hats and I’m proud to say that these things all contribute to productivity, the newer obsession I have and with more long-term payoff than items that did not show my true value or self-worth.
They’re long-term paying because I can have more financial freedom and I can continue doing things that serve my wellness and personal and professional development.
Anyways with all these directions I took, it all tied in and it led me to where I have to be at this very moment. I had to strive to find a purpose.
Do you want to get into minimalism?
Minimalism is not just about owning less but it’s to put importance on things that truly matter. It’s having clarity and promoting things that we value the most. It’s about slowing down life and slowing down ourselves to lessen the stress and noise around us. You can achieve minimalism as anyone else can and once you get into it, you may want to keep embracing this lifestyle. I know I don’t want to go back to my old lifestyle.
Practicing minimalism can be hard when you came from a background similar to mine. I explain in my blog post “A Simple Guide on How to Practice Minimalism” more of my story of who I used to be and it’s also a guide on how you can practice and add minimalism to your life.