I have always wanted to write. But I never did. I just didn’t think that I have anything to write about. I was born in the world. I went to elementary school. I went to high school. I went to college. I graduated. I worked. That was all that I ever did. Outside being a daughter, a student and a professional, I wasn’t much else. So what was I going to write about? What time I woke up to get to work? What crappy food I ate for lunch? How long I slaved away last night to finish some report that needed to be done come the next day? My life was a white sheet of lined paper with the straight borders marking the margins. And I’ve always written on the lines, inside the clearly marked borders. But the thing is, I think my paper is full. I could easily get a new, crisp sheet and start again. But the question is, do I want to? What if I used the old sheet, and wrote OUTSIDE the margins for a change? Now that’s something to write about, and honestly, to live for.
There’s this quote that I’ve been hearing quite plenty recently. It goes something like, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” If this is in any sense true, my life would probably be number one on the list of those lives that are worth living. For as long as I remember, I have always obsessed about getting my shit right. Thus probably the pretty good life I have led so far. But I think that although my efforts are very commendable, I still feel that I have merely been scraping the surface. The examination is not done yet, and it’s about to get deeper.
Just last week, I have started giving away probably the most valuable possessions of my life (or so I thought), my books. Ever since I was a little kid, books have been my refuge. I even had a bookmark before (which I cut out from an issue of Oprah magazine, which I love) which says that books are the most constant of friends. And I couldn’t agree more. When no one would play with me, I would read. When no one would love me, I would read. And I never had books of my own. These ‘friends’ were still very temporary. So when I got a job, I got crazy. Whatever I felt after a long day of work, or even when I didn’t feel anything at all, I would march forth towards the nearest bookshop and buy a book. My collection grew and I felt extremely happy because I was fulfilling a dream. Finally, I was granting that little girl’s dream of having a friend that was indeed gonna be constant. The sad thing was my friends became friends with dust and termites instead of me. This continued for three years… until I learned about minimalism.
Minimalism. Do you know what it is? I think I know it. I’m just not sure I can explain it very well. But when some of my colleagues did ask me what it was, I think I said that it was simply about simplifying life. Identifying what you most want and need in your life and removing everything else. Some (jokingly) interpreted it as me wanting to be a Buddhist monk (I don’t even know what they do!), a nun (What now?!) or a hermit (No.). I’m still learning what it is. And I’m not even sure if I’m really gonna be a full-on minimalist. I just don’t know enough yet. But I do know some. And it’s actually funny how I did get to know some.
It all started with me trying to find my CORE. With my new job, new friends and over-all new world, I was starting to get overwhelmed. I had to be the perfect employee, I had to go out every night with my friends, I had to look, talk and walk cool, I had to spend time with my family. Trying to fit the mold for that emerging trend of the ‘perfect’ girl, I just felt trapped. Some of these new obligations I was more than happy to fulfill, but some just left me drained and weirdly unsatisfied. Every time that I was doing well in something, I was horrible at something else. No matter how I tried, I was never good enough. And that ate at me. Because I have always been more than good enough. So it was a bit baffling why now, when the world was at my fingertips, was I feeling that way. It turns out, I didn’t need the whole world. I probably just needed a continent or two.
That was when I started making a list of the things that I thought were important to me. And the funny thing was, for my first draft, I ended up writing EXACTLY everything that I was currently doing. Obviously (so there shouldn’t be any hard feelings), I still had to dig deeper and delete more. After some time, the list did get shorter. And I gave it a try. I dropped one of my working days. It was liberating at first. But then I started using that supposedly ‘free’ day to do some extra work at home. And when I realized it was simply not working out, I worked five days again. And then, seven days. And that is how I am today. I spend five days working in the office and two days working at home. They have always said that Americans live to work while the rest of the world works to live. So why am I like this? I am not fucking American!
Now since trying to control my working hours seemed impossible, I turned to other things, namely, my wardrobe. I wanted to dress the way I thought would be an honest representation of who I was. Bright colors have always looked good on me but that was not me. So I turned to the one color I thought WAS me. Black. Sad, I know, and probably even gothy. And I didn’t want gothy. I just wanted the black element of the goth thing. But I wanted to keep everything else simple, unemotional, minimal. And this led me to the brilliant term MINIMALIST GOTH. No one has ever told me that term. I simply created it. And then I typed it into dear old Google and what do you know, there it was. There actually was only one girl who did use the term and dressed that way. I tried it, loved it and thought, “This minimalist thing isn’t bad at all.”
I haven’t thought much about minimalism after that. Until something really shitty happened at work and I was so down and I just wanted to cut that cord and just say adios. But the thing is, this job is really financially rewarding and probably one of the most noble jobs on earth. But there had to be a quiet way out. But while looking for the exit, I was angry and confused. But luckily, above all the emotions and thoughts that were swirling in my head, one thing was clear. I wanted to be happy. All through one night, the keys on my laptop went tippity tap, searching for happiness. And finally, the fingers tapped the letters m-i-n-i-m-a-l-i-s-m. And then I saw the first flash of happiness in the tunnel. The Minimalists.
Now let’s go back to my books (sorry for leading you so far away). The Minimalists is a blog featuring these two hot guys (they’re not paying me to say this BTW) who are, well, minimalists. They have this awesome 21-day guide on how to jump start your life as a minimalist. And one of the first things that you have to do is to let go of the things that you don’t necessarily need in your life. Unfortunately, that includes my book collection. Don’t get me wrong, the stories that I have read and are yet to read are still one of the most important things that I will ever have in my life. But instead of collecting dust in my shelf, they will stay with me in my heart and in my mind. So far, I have been successful in removing all other clutter too. But the best clutter that I have learned to let go of are the bleak ideas of who and what I should be. I have always known what value I have but I could not fully appreciate who I am because of my failure to become who I thought I wanted to be. I learned to love who I am, right here, right now, because frankly, that’s all that I’ve got. And anything that is stealing this irreplaceable treasure away from me is not welcome in my life.
Without a doubt, this marks a new chapter in my life. Something that will surely be written outside the margins that’s been put around my existence. I am starting on the edges, something that I have never even thought of doing before. I am both excited and scared. But I am ready. For whatever I lose, it will be my life that I will get back. And if THIS is not something I could write about, I don’t know what is.