One month trying to live as a minimalist
26 April, 2018
Around 30 days ago I left my job in Recife with the goal of bootstrapping a digital product while living off my savings and/or freelance jobs.
With this goal also came the desire (and the opportunity) to put into practice something I said I was gonna do a long time ago: minimalism.
This is going to be a long post so sit tight.
I first heard of minimalism as a way of life trough my friend Allan around mid-2015. I was shocked at first. “How can someone NOT want a car, a big house and all those fancy stuff?”
I remember dismissing the idea after putting some thought in it.
A few months later I had to search for an apartment near the campus (I was studying I.T. on a small town called Belo Jardim at the moment).
My worry wasn’t about finding a good place, but rather all the stuff I was going to need to buy or get from my family. Bedroom, all the kitchen stuff, etc.
Luckily, I found someone that was looking for a roommate. He and his previous roommate had basically furnished the entire place so I brought only my bed, a desk and a couch. Still, I had A LOT of small stuff. Those things that you bring in your life and can’t remember why they’re there.
One year passed and I dropped out of school and got back to my parents’. Luckily for me, my transition was very smooth since I hadn’t a lot of furniture.
At the time, me and Allan were working on a brand new startup and he moved to my hometown, renting a furnished room (literally, a bedroom with a bathroom and a desk that could be turned into a bed. There was like six rooms like these in the building and a common area with a kitchen. No, it wasn’t a hostel).
He literally moved to another place and brought only one or two backpacks.
To me, it was mind blowing. “What the fuck? How does he live with a backpack?”
From that moment I started taking minimalism a bit more seriously. First stop: The Minimalists Podcast.
And, for my surprise, I discovered that minimalism is not just about physical stuff and clutter. It goes way deeper than that.
Fast forward one year and there I was with Allan again. Our startup had failed a few months earlier and we were about to start on new jobs in the big city, Recife.
First challenge: find an apartment.
I created a Trello board to help us figure out what we needed to buy, and every time I added a card like “microwave” or “T.V.” he would comment something like why the fuck we need that shit?
If you understand Portuguese, that’s an interesting conversation to read about the need to buy a microwave:
In the end everything worked out because we found a furnished apartment. This time I didn’t have to bring my bed or anything.
But still, I brought a lot of those small stuff, and I didn’t noticed.
And again, Allan brought one or two backpacks.
We spent almost a year there.
Then I decided that was time for me to move on. But this time I needed to go lean.
I fcking hate clutter. Really.
My parents are innate acummulators, and this doesn’t do any good for them.
Besides that, minimalism just seems to be the most logical way of living. Why do I need things that I don’t need?
It’s easy to travel, easy to live. When you need to move, your stuff fits in a backpack.
And there’s life as a service: everything I need, from housing to food and from transportation to a place to work, can be solved using my smartphone. No hassle, no clutter.
I want to spend my money on experiences, not stuff.
Getting rid of stuff
The first thing I did right before announcing my resignation was to get rid of A LOT of stuff.
- ~30 books
- ~60 pieces of clothes
- ~60 simple useless stuff
There was more, but I didn’t count.
I can’t exactly describe the feeling. It’s like someone is suffocating you for a long time, and you get used to it. But then, someday, it stops, and you can breath again.
By the time I arrived in my hometown, this was everything I needed:
One backpack and a handbag. That’s all.
And, for fun, I completed an old desire: have a completely grey wardrobe:
I still have useless stuff in my life, the small ones. Like the Arduino I bought and never used, but it’s way less than it was two months ago.
Minimalism is constant discipline. Things have a sneaky way of entering your life, and if you don’t take care, soon you’ll find yourself with lots of meaningless stuff in your life, physically and mentally.
“Kipple is useless objects, like junk mail or match folders after you use the last match or gum wrappers or yesterday’s homeopape. When nobody’s around, kipple reproduces itself. For instance, if you go to bed leaving any kipple around your apartment, when you wake up the next morning there’s twice as much of it. It always gets more and more.”- Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
I haven’t counted yet how many things I currently carry. Maybe I can won the 100 thing challenge. The next step is probably look into all my stuff and ask “what is the purpose of this item?”, if there’s no answer, then it’s probably not worth having it.
These are still baby steps, I have a lot to learn yet on how to live a fulfilling life without entering the trap of consumerism.
Much to thanks to my friend Allan Carlos for showing me that I don’t need all that shit.