The end of 2019 came with a lot of learning, personal growth and transformation for me, and boy was I ready for it. I found the first half of the year tough. I wasn’t feeling myself in the things I was doing, and I just couldn’t put my finger on why. I started to crave something more, but I didn’t know what that was.
Through coaching and counselling, I was able to dig deeper into my feelings and behaviours, and unearth a lot of truths that I wouldn’t have been ready to realise sooner. It felt like a period of coming into my own, and in doing so it helped me to learn more about why I had done some of the things in my past.
One of the most interesting things for me to learn about was my relationship with minimalism. I discovered the concept of minimalism a few years ago and I embraced it wholeheartedly. I decluttered everything in my house until I was left with a fraction of what I’d had before. I ditched all of my furniture and replaced it with everything white and grey. I stopped wearing makeup. I stopped styling my hair. I removed every item of colour from my wardrobe. And I felt so much better.
I will always remember the feeling the first time I walked down the stairs after setting up our new, white, sideboard bookshelves. I felt a physical sensation of opening in my chest. I felt freer. Like I could breathe so much easier than before.
I took those positive feelings, and I ran with them. I tried so many different, minimal, things to keep hold of that sense of ease, and it worked for a long time. Until it didn’t.
What I learned over time, but didn’t fully understand, was that I used minimalism as a coping mechanism to deal with all of the difficult things I was experiencing in life at that time. Looking back now, I would say those first couple of years of minimalism were also the most traumatic and tumultuous of my life, and that’s no coincidence. I used controlling my possessions as a way to cope with all of the other things that I couldn’t control. But what I realised more recently was that I was also erasing myself in order to deal with it all. I was making every aspect of my own life – the way I dressed, the way I took care of myself, the day-to-day living of my life – as simple as I possibly could so I could channel all of my energy into the other things.
But when that period of my life passed, and I was able to settle back down, I wasn’t happy. I kept doing all of the things that I had been doing, but they didn’t work any more. And that’s because I was craving something more. I was craving being more.
I realised that I was feeling so lost because I had left so much of myself behind. I was ready to rediscover those parts of myself, and discover what was new. But doing so came with some mindset issues to overcome. For so long I had told myself that less is more, and it is, except for when it isn’t. In allowing myself to open up, I found myself craving more things. I wanted to express myself in new ways. I wanted to dress differently and take more pride in my appearance. I wanted to express my personality in my personal space and show the world a little more of who I am. But those things came with expenses, and acquisitions and it was hard for me to reconcile.
I bought some new outfits, and some earrings and lipstick. I started styling my hair differently, and I focused on new hobbies. I was doing well, but there was something that still didn’t feel right. It took me until this week to discover what that missing piece was, and it came to light while I was reading Jessica Rose Williams’ blog, Why I shop seasonally for my capsule wardrobe. In it, she writes “I don’t think implementing structures to help us simplify should ever be about deprivation.” and I suddenly realised what I’d been holding on to that had been holding me back – I had been depriving myself of the things I wanted, because I thought I should be living with less. I’d spent two weeks wearing jeans with holes in them because I thought I couldn’t justify buying a new pair. I’d spent months wearing the same pair of trainers, day in and day out, because I thought owning a second pair would be excessive. But that’s not true. I can still live within my means, with as much stuff as I need, without depriving myself of the things that I really want. And most often than not, the things that I want are also really useful.
So the next day I took myself into town and bought a new pair of jeans, and I ordered those trainers that I’d had bookmarked and kept looking at every time I booted up my laptop. And honestly, I couldn’t be happier.
It feels like I’ve still got a way to go in settling into redirecting my mindset away from deprivation, but granting myself permission to own things that I want and value feels like a form of self-care. It’s fascinating to me to look back on this journey and see how the whole thing has come full circle. Looking after myself has been the motivation throughout, but this time having a little more is what makes me feel freer and calmer and I’m ready to allow myself that.