simple living

Real life vs. internet life?

One thing I’ve come to really dislike about social media is the trend to portray a ‘perfect’ life. You have those on Instagram taking 20 selfies to get that pose just right… which is then edited beyond recognition with filters.  Maybe it’s just the people I come across my own age but everyone seems to depict this ‘I’m in school, but have the time to eat out and go to concerts every weekend, spend glamorous summers at my fantastic internship all the while jetting off on a foreign adventure’ lifestyle. There is such a false-ness about it all.

However isn’t this now the draw of social media with likes of twitter, instagram, youtube and tumblr? Unlike Facebook, where there is only so much you can fake around people you actually know, on these sites you can create a completely different persona. You can become your very own pinterest board come to life! But really what is the point of it all? To instigate jealousy? Not to show your vulnerabilities?

I have a friend who after graduating last year, immediately got a job offer at a start up in NYC. From what I have seen, her social media is filled with pictures of herself going to restaurants and boutiques while jetting off every couple of weeks to visit her boyfriend in san francisco. However recently we ran into each other and I was given a fuller picture. In reality: she walks an hour to work since she can’t afford transportation, she constantly has to work overtime which she isn’t paid for and her boss is an egomanical tyrant. Nothing you would suspect from the image portrayed on social media.

Now I understand that no one wants to be the person constantly whining and complaining on social media. For one thing there can be negative ramifications, we’ve seen how people have lost their jobs for an insensitive tweet or an incriminating Facebook post. However at what point are you portraying an unrealistic version of yourself? I’ll admit that I felt both jealous and self-concious; what was I doing wrong? Why didn’t I have the time or resources to live like everyone else (seemingly) was. Was the problem with those who portrayed this false opulent lifestyle or was it with myself for taking these social media interactions as a literal representation of someones life instead of just a sampling of positive highlights?

Later that day I opened up about some stressors I was facing to a close friend. It’s unclear whether consciously or unconsciously but I had internalized all of my anxiety in an attempt to exude a certain image. Again the question was why? To keep people at arms length? To keep my fears a secret? Although she didn’t have a crystal ball to look into the future and let me know everything was going to work out, just talking about my worries and letting myself be vulnerable helped much more than I had expected.

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Change?

Anyone can change.

It’s never too late.

These are phrases we hear over and over again meant to be words of motivation or encouragement. While it can be easy to change physical aspects of ourselves, such as a new hair colour or new wardrobe, inner reflection – a change from within requires a greater mental effort.

A strange aftereffect throughout this minimalism journey is that I feel I’ve learned a lot about myself. I know that sounds cheesy and cliche, but mentally I feel like i’m in a different place than where I was a year – even a few months ago. While I’ve always been pretty decisive with my decision making (a very un-Libra like trait) I feel as though I’ve almost solidified my own personal likes and dislikes. This isn’t to say that every inner reflection has been a positive one. I’ve also become aware of some very unattractive personality traits; what’s worse is when thinking back to past situations, I can see that they have existed for quite a while. Though awareness is the first step to bring about change, doubt may be my downfall. As much as I want to immediately eliminate these unpleasant traits, that nagging question remains ever present in the back of my mind…Is it too late? Will I be able to change?

The Temptation of a Sale

Temptation. Really what is there to say about it? It’s something that will always be there – it’s human nature to crave that instant satisfaction. Whether it be the temptation to EAT that extra piece of pie, BUY that impulse splurge item or READ the latest Facebook updates instead of your textbooks; temptation exists all around us.

Many minimalist blogs seem to either act like temptation no longer exists once you decide to embrace living with less, or act like the solution is a simple one such as ‘unsubscribe from those trigger blogs, don’t go shopping, WALK AROUND WITH HORSE BLINDERS!‘ Now of course that last one is a joke but in all honesty where is this utopian place where these techniques actually work? What about the unavoidable (or unconscious) forms of advertising? The billboard ads, magazine displays, television commercials, radio commercials – advertisements have even begun to pop up on our social media feeds! Outside of cutting yourself off from all technology and moving to some remote location, we need to learn to live with the bombardment of advertisements rather than try to cut them out of our lives completely.

This is all just to say that as I type this post I am trying to resist temptation. Last week I came across a pair of glitter hi top sneakers. Now although I’ve never been a glitter fanatic, I was immediately drawn to them. I’ve always preferred gold to silver accents but these were the best of both worlds, beautiful platinum glitter side panels with a taupe suede trim. While a part of me thought they were undeniably tacky, a larger part of my mind immediately became that pressed doorbell screaming Buy! Buy! Buy! I was able to resist purchasing them during a black friday/cyber monday sale, deciding they weren’t an immediately needed purchase. But somehow found myself back on the site today to see the majority of the previously available sizes had sold out. As luck would have it my size was the only one still in stock.

Was this a sign that I was destined to have these gloriously tacky glitter sneakers? Do signs even exist for tacky impulse shoes? Either way, while I had talked myself out of purchasing them a few short days ago, here I was scrambling to punch out my payment information. Mind you, now that the black friday sale had ended the shoes were more expensive, yet somehow my mind had convinced myself that I needed these shoes. What if they run out of my size? What if they don’t get more in stock? Will I regret not purchasing these? HOW WILL I SURVIVE WITHOUT GLITTER FOOTWEAR!?

If you’re cringing at the mere thought of glitter hi tops you’ll be happy to know that I was able to resist the temptation. While my mind was busy justifying all the occasions I could wear them (holidays in hi tops , summer in hi tops, early fall in HI TOPS!!!) a quick mental reminder of all the other shoes in my possession, coupled with the memory of an entire tote full of impulse shoes I had purged no more than 2 weeks prior was enough for me to say no.

What is it about a sale that makes our impulse centres go berzerk? Is it the ‘for a limited time only’ aspect or the prospect of getting a good deal? (even when you may have resisted an even better deal a short time ago) As much as I’d like them to disappear, I don’t see my list of wants going away anytime soon- temptation will always be out there. However instead of immediately giving into that pleasure centre, take a step back, a deep breath, and try to clear your mind from beneath that dark temptation cloud.

The ‘Stuff Cycle’

the word minimalism tends to garner a specific image of sterile, stark, white rooms with minimal furnishings, art, personality everything. About 2 1/2 years ago I started an unexpected shift towards minimalism and find myself moving further and further in that direction. It started in decluttering and minimizing one specific aspect in my life and has slowly bled out. I know some people just wake up one day and suddenly get inspired to do a big purge of all their belongings but for me I’m glad this has been a slow process over time. While I have purged a LOT over the last year, I’ve also never regretted getting rid of an item. To me something that is just as important as the discarding itself.

The problem I’ve found with a lot of minimalistic blogs is that they focus too much on the number e.g. 100 items, 33 items etc. to me the number isn’t as important as how the items make me feel, it almost makes minimalism seem like a competition – who can have the fewest amount of things. I want to be surrounded by things that I love, my goal is just to get rid of the excess. Its funny how overtime it becomes easier to purge and get rid of possessions that 6 months or a year ago I would have been making excuses for why I needed to keep that item in my life.

Have I been perfect throughout my minimalism journey so far? No, but I have been getting better at letting go of regrettable purchases as soon as possible. I actually have a small paper shopping bag that has become a staple on my bedroom floor. It sits right beside my bookshelf and whenever I have an item I’m ready to toss (or am thinking about tossing) in it goes. Its easy to have on hand for a friend or family member to rummage through and its nice to have a designated ‘out’ box instead of leaving things scattered around until the next time I decide to do a purge.

At the end of the day its all a cycle. Buying stuff – displaying stuff – maintaining stuff – storing stuff – getting rid of stuff – working to pay for new stuff. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not going to swear off consumerism entirely however I do want to drastically reduce that cycle for myself. While at a certain point I was focused on a rigid one in, one out policy, I now want to be  more mindful of what I’m bringing into my home and resist those impulse wants. The less I let the stuff- cycle take over my life, the more time I have for what’s important to me.