“Once in a while it really hits people that they don’t have to experience the world in the way they have been told to.” -Alan Keightley

I spoke with someone about minimalism a couple of months ago. We were so on the same page about how much of a hassle too much stuff is, how little you really need, etc. We walked back to their place and upon entering they exclaimed, “Yup! This is all the stuff I have!”. I looked around floored at just how much they had confused at how they interpreted this as minimalism. I had to suppress my reaction as I realized what minimalism means for me is likely quite different than what it means for someone else.

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I don’t have cups. I have one mug and I have 2 protein shakers. One is currently holding flowers I got for my mom on Mother’s Day when I picked her up from the airport (obviously don’t have any vases). The other I drink out of for basically everything. Water, protein shakes, wine… I didn’t notice until one day my neighbor was locked out of her apartment and asked for a glass of water. My friend was in town visiting and we both nervously glanced at each other.

“Uhhh I don’t have any cups but I have a mug I can put water in.”

Why do you need real cups anyway?! A mug works for warm and cold water!

It pained me to buy a second towel. I realized I had to if I was going to in any way welcome guests. The same struggle happened when it came to buying more blankets.

I don’t have any chairs. I don’t have a table. I sit on the $115 futon I got off of amazon or stand at the kitchen counter. Sometimes I’ll eat my meals cross legged on the yoga mat in the corner. I didn’t realize how odd this was until my mom came to visit and I found myself stuttering through explaining where it is I normally eat.

“Oh, right, most people actually have tables and chairs. Duh.” 

I sleep on a blow up air mattress my mom got me for Christmas. It’s fantastic and I’m pretty convinced I’ll sleep on it until it bursts at this rate seeing as I can take it wherever I want to go. I think she regrets buying it for me just a tiny bit.

I own four jackets but really could get by with just two. The other two are “nicer” jackets more for others to deem me acceptable than they are for me. If I didn’t travel and just lived in San Diego, I could easily get by with just one.

I have two pairs of pants. Three if you count my athletic track pants that I tend to wear most days. I have 4 pairs of shoes: cleats, running shoes, sambas, and my “nice flats” for special occasions (I’ve had these shoes for nearly 8 years).  I have over 3 times more books than I do shoes and jackets combined.

I have one knife. It is a dull knife and it drives me nuts. I finally caved and just ordered a knife from William Sonoma. When it arrives, I will get rid of the old, dull one. I have one non-stick (but of course it sticks) sauté pan and a glass baking pan that I use to cook whatever it is I’m eating. I struggle to fill the dishwasher with enough items before I feel it merits to be run.

I have a case of disinfectant wipes and a swiffer. This is all I’ve had to clean my apartment since I’ve moved in.  This proved to be a frustrating experience every time it came to clean my apartment as I would inevitably end up sitting on the ground picking up little tiny bits of dirt with my little tiny hands from the pile I made with the swiffer. Sigh.

I knew I needed a broom. I’ve needed a broom since I moved in but I didn’t want to have to need it. It felt like admitting minimalist defeat. Tons of people get by without brooms – why do you feel you need one? You just want one because it would make things easier! I kept wrestling with it even after I came back from soccer one day only to take off my socks and have 230958235 pieces of turf go flying in every direction. A broom would make this so much easier.

I bought a broom two days ago. It’s incredible. It stands on its own. It came with it’s own dust pan that snaps into place on the broom. It’s a bit smaller than most brooms which I love. I’ve swept my apartment probably 10 times since I got it marveling at how genius of a creation it is. I kept comparing it in my head to the swiffer thinking about how they both serve their own purpose and are brilliant in their own ways. Having a broom has genuinely made me happy.

It reminds me of finger nail clippers. When I first started nomading, I forgot to snag a pair. They cost at most $2 at the local convenient store but I refused to buy another pair after I forgot mine. Three weeks in and I found myself chewing my finger nails — a habit I’ve never had — because it was driving me nuts to have long nails. I could feel them every. letter. I. typed. I eventually caved and have the same pair of fingernail clippers today.

Growing up, the motto “Live simply so others can simply live” was engrained in me. Something switches in you when you see true poverty. At least, it did in me. I have privileges beyond measure. The fact that I choose to live so simply is a testament to that. When most walk into my apartment, they likely look around and react to how bare/simple it is. I look around and marvel at how much I have. I seriously love the way I live. I don’t have to experience the world in the way I have been told to.

Don’t mind me as I marvel at brooms and cherish fingernail clippers.

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