My writings about minimalism
In the near future (say, within the next 5 years), I want to explore the possibilities of a digital nomad lifestyle. Working independently of location and time is a compelling idea and having followed digital nomads in blogs and Youtube and Instagram for quite a while, I'd definitely love to give it a try. Seeing the world, learning about new cultures and being able to experience the wonders that the world has to offer — sounds good, right?
I realized some time ago that it takes quite a lot to jump from regular 9-to-5 office job and permanent home to remote-only, timezone varying work with no permanent place to call home. So I decided to start learning the required skills and getting used to things before taking a full leap. I also felt that I needed to hone my skills so I could find enough work to keep me going once I decide to start traveling.
Look around you. Of all your things, how many of them were a result of a thought-out process? And how many are just a result of an accumulation that started when you were a teenager?
For me, getting into minimalism was kind of a way to hit the reset button. I was 29 at the time and almost everything I owned was just a continuation of accumulation. Especially coming from a poorer family (we were not very poor but definitely had to count the money when deciding what to buy), many things were bought because they were affordable.
Last week I had an interesting conversation with a friend. We started talking about minimalism and getting rid of excess stuff as she was moving to a new apartment. The long-winding discussion led to a topic of how I have changed my perception of the cost of things. Back in the day I was mostly measuring everything by their monetary value: do I have enough euros or dollars in my bank account to make this purchase. As I got older and my salary increased, suddenly very few everyday items became out of reach. That's why my house started to fill with stuff that I thought I needed but didn't actually even spend another second thinking about my needs.
Now I consider other aspects than money: I think about what I need to get rid of to make the new purchase fit into my backpack and I need to think about the lifetime expense of owning something. Suddenly I'm not filling my house with 5€ trinkets just because they were on sale. Or buying a new tv just because I was able to financially pay for it.
An average US household has 300,000 items. I would argue that it's a lot. But looking at my own childhood in Finland, it's actually not surprising. We tend to gather a lot of stuff. And there's a perfectly reasonable explanation for it: space has a tendency to fill itself.
How many times have you packed something and noticed that there's still a little bit room in a box or a suitcase? And then you started thinking what more could you fit in since you have all this extra space. I have found myself thinking about that a lot. When I started decluttering my stuff, I caught myself multiple times thinking "I'll give myself this box for board games, everything that doesn't fit in has to go." Once you start going down that path, you will eventually fill every space you can find.
About a year ago I learned about minimalism from Youtube videos and the two dudes who call themselves the Minimalists. In the end of June last year, I wrote a blog post about the first steps in my journey. After having a fruitful discussion about the topic with a friend on Wednesday, I decided to write a follow-up based on my experience and learnings from the past year.
A lot has happened in a year. Last summer I got rid of a lot of stuff I didn’t really need: started with excess clothes and TV and the snowball kinda started rolling from there. I moved to Helsinki in April and did two new huge rounds of decluttering.
My journey as a minimalist started a year ago. For quite a while I had been a fan of the Tiny House movement and sometime last summer I ended up watching Youtube videos about minimalism and quickly found out about The Minimalists.
Until that point, I had lived with a lot of stuff. Back home, we had a nice house full of stuff. The garage was unusable because of the amount of stuff. All the closets were filled with boxes and piles of stuff. It was the life I knew. So when I grew up and moved to my first own apartment, I brought with me a lot of stuff. And for 10 years, my small studios were filled with things I never used. At some point, I moved three or four times without even fully unboxing my moving boxes. It still took a long time — and the help of amazing Youtubers — to realize that I could get rid of that stuff.
I have a background as a hoarder. I lived my childhood in a big suburban home and we threw away almost nothing. As I moved to smaller and smaller apartments, I started seeing the problems with the amount of my stuff. First, I imagined the problem was just bad organizing or dull and stupid floor plans. But eventually I realized the problem was my huge piles of junk.
My journey towards minimalism started — as I’ve noticed to be similar to many others — through looking for inspiration in tiny houses: I wanted to figure out how I could use my small apartment optimally. Luckily, instead of spending tons of money trying to build something cool, I found out about minimalism. It started all innocent by watching some Youtubers talk about their lives and soon enough I ended up watching Minimalism: A Documentary About Important Things and learning more from Joshua and Ryan through their TEDxTalks and their book.