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Wednesday, 25 January 2017

What Living Abroad For 2 Years Taught Me About Minimalism

Some may have said I overpacked for my year in Korea. Heck, I even said it myself. Two overweight/oversized suitcases, one carry-on backpack, (and one steamer later....) I was ready for my year abroad.

You would think after that much luggage in size and weight, (I'm surprised the zippers didn't break) that my room back home in Canada would be looking pretty bare. But, no. It was disturbing how much stuff was still there. Someone could have easily still lived in there.

I did overpack, but in comparison to everything I left in my room, I was only taking a fraction of my belongings with me.

And guess what? I survived!

In fact, I thrived. It's only through looking back now that I can identify the feeling. I didn't know it at the time, but upon arriving in Korea and moving into my new apartment, I felt different. Not because I was in a foreign country, or out of my parents house... But I felt different in relation to my belongings. Lighter. Which I can only attribute to the fact that I was living with less.

Living with less, but each item having MORE meaning, more intent, more purpose (ok except for my portable steamer...). I actually WORE all my clothes. Why is that so amazing?! That should be a normal thing to do! And not only did I WEAR all of my clothes, but I liked them all too! Trying to find an outfit in the morning was never a problem, and I could actually start to SEE the back of my closet when laundry time was near. I used all my clothes, I liked all my clothes, and they served their purpose.

Fast forward two years.

Upon returning home after my time in Korea, I was flabbergasted by the amount of STUFF still in my room. And I don't use the word flabbergasted lightly (in fact I don't think I have ever used that word). The magnitude of things I owned made me feel sick to my stomach. I hadn't used any of this stuff in two years. I had forgotten about most of it, and been just fine without it. Happier, without it. Heavier, with it.

The very next day after my 26 hour flight itinerary from Sydney to Ottawa,  all I did was discard (aka donate, recycle, etc). A word I am now very familiar with after reading Marie Kondo's "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up". I could have chosen to do a great deal of other things on my first day back on Canadian soil, but alas. I discarded. It brought me joy and relief to get rid of these things I hadn't used or thought about in two years. They are just things.

One month and approximately 6+ garbage bags worth of items later (if anything that is an underestimation), and I am still discarding. I am trying to develop and maintain a lifestyle where I live a simpler life with less, and find more intentional uses in my belongings. I can't give Korea all the credit to opening me up to this lifestyle. Perhaps some people may be familiar with the term "minimalism", which has kind of blown up the internet (and real life) recently, with tons of books, YouTube channels, and podcasts devoted to this concept. "The Minimalists" website defines minimalism as, " a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfilment and freedom." Although the concept has probably been around for ages without a name, discovering the concept of minimalism and learning about this lifestyle has been inspirational and instrumental. It gave a name to the feeling I had, when I felt lighter with less.

Some of my favourite resources for minimalism so far include:
I have a long way to go in the decluttering department but I am looking forward to this life long minimalism journey. Thank you Korea, and the sources above to opening me up to this concept. It has changed me so far, and this is only the beginning. 

If anyone has any other minimalist resources they love and would like to share, I would love to hear them!

Until next time,

-LBFK

(Laura Back From Korea)

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