Fellow minimalists over at London Minimalists wrote a post about running into a friend who is currently jetsetting around the world for work…living out of a rucksack and a suitcase. Of course, feelings of envy ensued. I knew exactly how that felt. Recently, a college buddy of mine got married and he and his wife sold everything and went off to South Korea to teach English. I wanted that fresh start, that adventure. But I’m married to a non minimalist and I have three children, so selling it all for a fresh start isn’t in the cards for me. It’s easy to fall into the trap of comparison.
Maybe every minimalist goes through a period where they have to adjust their view of minimalism’s gold standard to their current situation. I stopped keeping up with the consumer Joneses and then I tried to keep up with the minimalist Joneses. My minimalist Jones is Joshua Millburn over at The Minimalists. Have you seen the pictures of his flat before he moved to Missoula? And he teaches writing and writes for a living? Could I be any more jealous? But he is a single guy with money and freedom to do what he likes. My situation is different and it’s useless to compare. There comes a point where you have to ask yourself if you’re doing this minimalism thing for you or if you’re trying to attain an impossible standard…for you.
My tendency is to fall prey to the “if only I could do this or that, then I’d be happy”. Sitting around comparing and not taking any action in your own life is a recipe for trouble. I read minimalist blogs for three years and I took some action…I decluttered stuff and secretly wished for a smaller house, a more minimalist husband, that my kids were older, etc. But eventually it became clear that I needed to shape minimalism to fit my life instead of wishing for someone else’s.
It finally hit me that I could be envious of my minimalist Jones or I could be inspired by them. I could never be a single male writer but I could incorporate some of his habits. Joshua Millburn gets up at three thirty to write. I now get up at four forty five (four thirty is the goal…almost there!). My friends moved to South Korea to experience new cultures and new people. My state is home to at least 400,000 immigrants–including the ninth largest African immigrant community in the country. New cultures and new people are literally right outside my front door. I’ve spent enough time comparing. It’s time to get my hands dirty and start living.
How have you stopped keeping up with the minimalist Joneses?