My journey began with a sense of disquiet in my soul. I took one instinctive step after another, and there I was: A minimalist.
I only realised that there was a word for what I was when, yes, I stumbled on a blog about minimalism. It was an, “Ah-ha, so that’s what this is!” moment. Totally validating to discover that you’re not the only person who thought that shucking off your worldly possessions is the most liberating act in the universe.
Still, like most minimalists, my story began somewhere. And that somewhere was a four-letter word: Debt.
More than a decade ago, I had a RM12,000 credit card debt. When I added that amount to my car debt, it became an amazing RM25,000. When I added that amount to my house loan, well, my brain exploded.
One day, I just snapped. I was tired of this weight on my psyche, this fear that if lost my job, I’d be f***ed, this struggle of living paycheck to paycheck. I want it all gone.
I worked double time to do get rid of the debt and refused to listen to popular financial advice. (For example, people said it was a bad financial move to get rid of my car loan fast because of the low interest rates).
How I did this is a subject for another post, but after a year, I managed to get rid of that icky RM25,000 debt.
All that money that would’ve gone to minimal credit card payments now went to my savings account.
It felt like I could breathe again.
By then I had changed.
Stuff, I realised, got me into debt. Stuff that I didn’t use.
I felt that keenly when I had to move to Australia. Emptying my 1,000sq feet apartment turned out to be an arduous, insanely difficult process.
I had nearly 2,000 books, possibly 1,000 DVDs. The tragic thing about it all is that I have not read nor watched 50% of that collection.
I got into debt for this?
Fortunately, a church was looking for someone to donate things for a charity sale. My library went to them.
After that I was allergic to stuff. That switch in my head that said, “let’s shop for fun” was flipped off.
I realised then that I had been using stuff to feel happy, but stuff didn’t make me happy. It cluttered up my life, making it hard to move easily. I couldn’t just pick up and move to another state if I wanted to - I had all my stuff to think about.
As the years went by, I refined my approach to minimalism. I’m now a KonMari devotee, and why not - she makes my life so much easier!
I’m still a work in progress, but I’ve come so far from where I was ten years ago.
I no longer live paycheck to paycheck, for one, and that massive, six-figure house loan debt?
My friend once asked me how in the world I got so much things done.
Besides having an organising system that you can take to like a duck to water, minimalism was also a factor.
With minimalism, the world is now full of possibilities. The space taken up by stuff before I now spend on my interests, passion and on self-actualisation.
All that white, neutral empty space formerly cluttered up by knick knacks and trophies allow me to go into a calm state that allows me to think deeply about my life and about where I want to go.
That’s why I’m a minimalist. It makes me happy.