Like many millennial hipsters out there in the world, I was immediately impressed with the concept of living with less and in this case very less. The concept of minimalism revolves around reducing your needs, your environmental footprint etc. , basically “quality over quantity”. As a recovering spendaholic who is also a nature nut, I immediately fell in love with this concept. I binged on youtube videos about how minimalism as a lifestyle has changed the lives of many across the globe.
One week of looped videos and I was on the other side of the iceberg. Within a week’s time, I went from To-Do journaling on my Google Keep to having a plain-unruled-faux leather bound-diary. In spite of being raised in a household that practically lived off curries, I switched to the bland and tasteless salad and raw food regime. I wouldn’t replace my running shoes when they were worn off and continued using the caved insole for my nature runs etc. Meanwhile, I also took up the challenge of de-clutter your den challenge and started either giving away my kitchenware or “unnecessary” decor items and books. Post this apparently relieving activity, I wasn’t feeling much “decluttered” on the inside, instead, I was feeling overwhelmed because what used to an arm away, now isn’t.
Lack of utensils in the kitchen would need the maid to come in again in the evening to wash them so that they can be used for dinner. This meant a handsome pay hike for the maid. Since I had given away most of my library, I would Netflix more often meaning an exponential rise in my internet data consumption. The interiors of my home started to seem as if someone robbed it, so I took to DIY projects to decorate them. For this, I purchased kilos of PoP, piles of origami paper & other paraphernalia. I tried Pinterest and other DIYs but I eventually gave up because these items were nowhere near insta-worthy. Frustrated, that my living room doesn’t look anything like the last minimalist blogger’s, I ended up splurging on items from West Elm & Anthropologie – Quality over Quantity established.
With my savings almost depleted over this lifestyle change, I stood to face another issue that needed de-cluttering – My then very well paying job. I decided that this job was no longer helping me grow professionally & personally, which was true at that time as I wanted to pursue advertising. I left the job, moved to another city to stay with beau till I found another job either where he was stationed or somewhere back in my city. During this period, we traveled quite a bit which I’ll be writing about soon. I soon landed on my next gig and had to travel to my old city. Since this job wasn’t as paying as my first one, I decided to share a 3BHK with other 2 girls. Still a minimalist/purist at heart, I was vehement that I’ll only live by my standards especially when it came to fixtures and fittings in the bathroom as well as my food preparations. The girls didn’t mind and I continued with early morning cooking in the kitchen and yoga on my hand-woven-cruelty-free yoga rug ($40 minus international shipping).
One another way Minimalism wasn’t helping my savings is because plant-based nutrition is a costly affair in India. For example, a normal 500ml packet of milk usually costs around Rs.21 and the plant-based 500 ml milk packet could be anywhere around Rs.35-45. Something as simple as a single serving of paneer kadhai or cottage cheese curry when made at home costs as less as Rs.100, but when prepared by plant-based ingredients cost a whopping Rs. 250 or more (both portions serve 4 adults).
Eventually, this codependent shared living space and considerate adults for room-mates taught me that minimalism doesn’t exactly mean swanky whitewashed kitchen tables and neither does it have to make you a puritan in all your life choices. Post an hour-long conversation, we mutually agreed to split household expenses equally including food, now that I was back to Indian nutrition. While I exchanged handmade detergent soap for a department store one, they agreed on cleaning and de-cluttering old cartons off the living room making more space for all.
I still like cruelty free make-up but I don’t toss out my make up every 6 months to “maintain quality”, I still prefer organic vegetables but rather than buying it off luxury grocery stores, I source my culinary requirements from the farmers’ market down the street. One thing that minimalism taught me is that, it’s better when you practice it on the emotional level rather than the insta-worthy level after all, life is but a youtube video.