Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Key to Choosing Minimalism: Starting Small

2016 seems like it’s going to be a good year, which is good news because I’d be lying if said I didn’t need one. You’d think I’d be over it, but readjusting from the Peace Corps continues to be an on-going experience. One that I’m not entirely sure will ever end.

Twenty-four access to the news, Netflix and social media hasn’t exactly done me any favors. It’s like an obsessive impulse that both entraps and embarrasses me - I am as aware of the world’s suffering as I am the activity on my Pinterest boards. The more I browse, the more I crave and with so much clutter in my life (and mind), it becomes harder to express gratitude, stay present and remain satisfied. 

I started with a sabbatical from Facebook. I realized that the internet has the tendency to create two habits - the projection of perfection (which can only be reaffirmed by others) and an unchecked meanness toward that which is different.  So I dug a hole and buried my head in it, spending the month of December focusing on myself and the things things I love.

Why? Because I want to be more mindful of the choices I make. Whether that be gaining control over my admittedly rampant consumerism (I love shoes) or being more aware of the source of my food and clothing (I love the environment), I think I have reached a truly important impasse.

Life isn’t about filling up my closet or collecting Instagram followers or proving, through likes, that I have an amazing, enviable existence. Life is about the friends who lift me up and love me for exactly who I am (especially the boring, joyful, miserable masterpiece that is my day-to-day). It’s about memories being the only proof of an experience because I was so present I forgot to take a photo. It's about actively engaging in the things I love and being inspired by the beauty of each moment.

Emma’s Ridiculously Simple List of Minimalist Goals (#1)
1.) Do the dishes by hand (every time) & make it a communal activity. 
2.) No phones after 6 p.m. 
3.) Read at least one chapter every night.
4.) Buy responsibly (socially & environmentally).
5.) Always eat dinner as a family.

None of these things are particularly difficult, but they do take an adjustment. They are the first small step into what I hope will become a lifestyle. 

America changed while I was gone. It isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it certainly left me feeling very alone. My goal is to connect again, to actively create the life I want exactly where I am. And truthfully, whatever your motive may be, there’s nothing wrong with admitting that the lives we think we want - ruled by Wi-Fi, filters and an endless supply of binge-worthy shows, sales and time-stealing apps - can sometimes be ironically empty. 

So start simple.